Understanding and living Matthew 6:27
Years ago, a friend confided to me how she was so overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities that she constantly worried and could no longer find the heart to enjoy the things around her.
Even while she was speaking, I could tell how worry had taken over her life as she was constantly shifting her sitting position, and her eyebrows ‘frowned’ the whole time we were together in that coffee shop. Her fretful face was evidence of a disturbed heart, mind and soul.
She confessed that worry cost her to lose sleep, adding that if only there was a blueprint she could buy from a store so she could know what to do with her life, she would readily buy it no matter the amount on the price tag.
This kind of worry is destructive because it causes us to stress about things that are out of our control. Destructive worry completely takes over our whole being, and sucks away the joy in our lives. So what could possibly be the spiritual roots of our worry and how do we battle this?
Spiritual roots of worry
1. Control and pride
The problem with us humans is that we want assurance of everything. We want to know what is going to happen next, which is why we result to mediums, false prophets, and horoscopes to give us a glimpse of the future.
The truth is, deep within the fallen nature of the human heart, we would gladly give anything to know everything. We want to be in total control. Why is that?
Worry is really a manifestation of our control issues. We want to be in control and master of everything but really, we can’t. That’s probably one of the things that was stirred inside Eve’s heart and drove her to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.
The serpent made her believe that she needed to know what God knows in order to be truly happy. But the thing is, we can never be like God. Only God knows our past, present, and future, right down to the minutiae of our lives.
We also worry because we want the outcome to be exactly the way we want it be. And if it isn’t perfectly to plan, we end up frustrated and we blame God for ‘not doing His job’.
It is like a lactose-intolerant child asking for ice cream, but because his parents know it is bad for him, they give him gelato instead. Still, the child throws temper tantrums at his parents for not giving him exactly what he wanted.
When God gives us gelato instead of ice cream, how often are we like that child? Throwing temper tantrums at Him because we think we know better than Him?
Being controlling is actually a manifestation of pride—that is pride in oneself that wants to be in control of everything. Pride thinks “Hey God, I can do a better job than You! My ideas are better than Yours!”
Pride believes that everything must yield or adjust to us because we are too important. And if things won’t go our way, we become overly worried or anxious.
But God in His goodness knows all too well that we are just not capable of controlling everything and that our human wisdom is finite and flawed. We just can’t handle everything. Thankfully, God will lovingly break our pride over and over again if only to make us joyfully and peacefully whole again.
Another spiritual root of worry is failing to trust that God can and He will come through in His own way and in His own time. We don’t have that childlike faith in Him and so we take matters into our own hands.
It’s quite easy to say “I believe in God” when things are going well. But when placed in hot water, we discover that we don’t really believe Him in as much as we led ourselves to think because by then, we panic and take the wheel from Him. By taking the wheel, we disregard his activity in our lives.
Suffice to say, unbelief and control issues do go hand in hand. While God isn’t a genie upon whom we can make wishes, He is the God of the universe who is in charge of everything and knows what He is doing.
We have to believe that whatever answers He has for our prayers, it is for our own good that comes from His divine wisdom. Belief in Him requires belief in His ways and His timing, freeing us from having to worry about the outcomes.
How worry affects us: Worry paralysis
The problem with destructive worry is that it paralyzes us. Because we get so overwhelmed with the things that we worry about, it leaves us feeling helpless, hopeless, and ultimately giving up on life. “Worry paralysis”, as I like to call it, impairs us emotionally, mentally and physically.
In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asks, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Of course it won’t, but it certainly will rob us of the quality of our days. Instead of making use of all that has God has given us—talents, abilities and resources—we end up sitting on the rocking chair wallowing in dreadful feelings and never really having accomplished anything except biting our nails away.
The antidote to worry: Knowing God’s character and trusting in His promises
It is quite understandable to not immediately trust someone we don’t have an intimate relationship with. How can we ever trust someone who we don’t even know? That is why it is essential to know God’s heart, and have our hearts after His own.
So the question we must ask is, “How well do I know God and His character? How is my personal relationship with Him?” Worry is an expression of not fully knowing God or His character, and not having a personal intimate relationship with Him.
Trusting in His promises
As we begin to grow deeper in our personal relationship with Him, we start to take hold of His promises. One of His promises for us His children is in Romans 8:28: “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
If you love God, if you are living out His purpose for you, you just have to trust the outcome of the effort you put in today by leaving it in God’s hands. That means taking it one day at a time, and relying on His moment-by-moment grace of helping you live out your day to the fullest.
Even when things are not going very well or you are going through trials and suffering, God is still working everything for good. Perhaps He is breaking our pride or our self-reliance so we would depend less on ourselves and enjoy the peace and joy knowing that He is in control; or maybe He is doing something else entirely.
That is another form of trusting in His Romans 8:28 promise. There is nothing in vain when it comes to the Lord and His children. God never wastes anything on us. Every person, every circumstance can work for our good, which He weaves beautifully in our lives. All we have to do is trust Him and in His promises.
No matter how spiritually mature we become, worry will rear its ugly head every now and then. The key is that we can be at peace knowing that His grace is sufficient for us moment by moment (2 Corinthians 12:9), that He will meet our needs according to His glorious riches and that He will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).
We just have to humble ourselves to admit that we are indeed helpless humans who need Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and believe that all of God’s promises have been already fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” (2 Corinthians 1:20).