The U.S. is an overachieving culture when it comes to worry, anxiety and just being stressed out as a norm (studies prove it). This is not a #1 status in the world that we should be proud of or want to cling to. As a follower of Christ, you are given an alternative, and don’t have to allow worry to control your life. You can fight back. You can, according to Jesus Himself, counter worry or anxiety when it occurs. Here are two ways Jesus says we can respond when worry strikes.
Recognize Your Inclination to Worry (Luke 12:22-24)
In Luke 12, Jesus starts instructing His disciples about worry with the word “Therefore.” He starts with this term because He is connecting the natural inclination of the culture to worry (vv. 13-21) with His disciples’ inclination to do the same. In starting the conversation with, “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life,” (v.22a) Jesus is recognizing their inclination toward worry or anxiety (as well as ours). Why does He point this out so clearly? Because even the strongest believer/genuine follower of Christ cannot change what they first can’t recognize needs changing.
The word “worry” means to be anxious, allowing something to monopolize your thoughts and your heart. It also means allowing whatever you are worrying about to distract you from what really matters. When you don’t recognize that worry or anxiety is beginning to build, a mole hill will become a mountain before you know it.
Jesus tells His disciples to “consider” the fact that the birds cannot provide for themselves, “yet God feeds them” (v. 24a). “And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Jesus states (v. 24b). “Consider” means to observe fully and understand carefully. When you begin to worry or stress out about something, take the time to remember carefully (and in great detail) how God has been faithful to you and provided for you. Nothing has changed; His faithfulness remains no matter what worries you today.
One important truth: what you feed grows! Instead of feeding your worry, choose to feed your faith in Christ. Remember that He has been, and always will be, faithful. The problem is not the initial worry you experience; it is what you choose to do next that matters.
Counter Your Inclination to Worry (Luke 12:25-26, 31):
Jesus then asks a brilliant question: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (v. 25). I doubt any of the disciples raised their hands on that one. When Jesus said “add”, He was referring to adding quantity or quality of life. The simple truth: worrying does not add to your life, it subtracts from it. Continuing to dwell on worrisome things (often things we can’t control), only feeds our anxiety. This keeps us stuck, unable to move forward.
In countering worry, we must choose not to feed our worries. Jesus redirects by saying “But seek His kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.” “But” points us to a better choice; through Christ we can push back. How? Choose to “seek His kingdom”, which means to let God be sovereign in your life. Know and trust that even when you are not in control, He is. Know and trust that He will never leave nor forsake you. When you trust Jesus with the lead in life, you will discover He is worthy of your trust.
When worry or anxiety comes, choose two things: recognize your inclination to worry (vv. 22-24) and counter your inclination to worry (vv. 25-26, 31). You can either feed worry or fight it! Jesus gives you the basis to fight it.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’”