Anxiety and Trust

Core of the Bible Podcast, Episode 6

In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust. According to Yeshua, an intentional trust that is placed in God is a remedy to reducing our anxiety and our emotional responses to stress.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

We all understand that we carry way more anxiety than we should be, and to live simply trusting in the provision of God is certainly a welcome thought in our current day and age of information and emotional overload.

This verse has three basic sections to it, and in order to understand it better, we can highlight each section.

The first section is “do not worry about tomorrow.” How does the Bible define worry?

merimnaó: to be anxious, to care for

Anxiety divides our concerns and distracts us with negative potentiality. The irony is how situations and events that haven’t happened (or more specifically, may not even happen at all) can affect our present emotional state.

We can understand this logically, that it makes no sense to worry about non-existent things, but our emotional responses to these abstract thoughts about fictitious realities can run ahead of our logic, and they typically do.

Viewed from this perspective, this is also true about our personal struggle with anxiety: it divides us against ourselves, with the result being that we cannot stand.

When we do not worry about tomorrow, that is, when we do not allow our cognitive abilities to become distracted with non-existent potentialities, we can remain secure in our house.

The second part of the verse explains why we should not worry about tomorrow: “for tomorrow will care for itself.”

That can seem odd to us, saying that a day can take care of itself. But this type of personification of inanimate or non-sentient things runs all through the Bible.

‘Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy’ (Psalm 98:8).

‘When the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled’ (Psalm 77:16).

‘Then the moon will be abashed, and the sun ashamed’ (Isaiah 24:23).

This process of personification is a classic Hebraic method of communicating an abstract concept in a more relatable and understandable way.

We sometimes do this as a way of gaining perspective on the past or future. we might process this through writing to our “future self” or in reliving what our “past self” has accomplished. These are just ways for us to help grasp abstract concepts in practical ways.

This idea that tomorrow will take care of itself is an encouragement that, as the old song says, “whatever will be, will be.” When the day is complete, whatever will happen will be done, and “the day” will be considered as “having taken care of itself.”

We have to exercise care here in not adopting a fatalistic attitude; that we have no control over our actions each day. Yeshua simply uses this method as a way of helping us understand that even though tomorrow doesn’t exist yet, it will have its own complete share of challenges that will be worked through, good, bad, or indifferent.

The third part of the verse captures the last thought in this philosophy of trusting God:

Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

Martin Luther observes the principle from this passage when he writes:

“Why wilt thou be concerned beyond to-day, and take upon thyself the misfortunes of two days? Abide by that which to-day lays upon thee: to-morrow, the day will bring thee something else.”

Trouble and problems in this life are  a given. We all experience varying degrees of these and yet they are a very tangible reality. This is acknowledged all through the Bible. 

Consider the stories of men like Noah, having to face the adversity of widespread destruction, or Joseph, being ridiculed by his brothers and unjustly sent to prison in a foreign country. Consider the severe trial of Job losing his family and all the possessions he had. In some ways, the Bible is really all about the types of troubles we experience, which is why these types of stories are so enduring and relatable. It’s because we all share some of these same types of struggles. Each day definitely has trouble of its own.

The good news is that the Bible also provides the insight to overcoming the troubles of each day. Noah trusted God and was safely conveyed through the flood, Joseph trusted God and rose to prominence in Egypt. Job never wavered in his trust in God and had his family and fortunes returned, and even increased.

The Psalms are filled with encouragement of God’s help in our times of trouble:

Psalm 86:6-7 ESV – Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

Psalm 9:9-10 ESV – The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 27:5 ESV – For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

Psalm 46:1 ESV –  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Believers in Messiah wrote of the same confidence in God:

Ph’p 4:6 Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

1 Pet 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

All of these are admonitions to not be anxious about what hasn’t happened yet; let the future carry its own anxieties. If we continue to be anxious about every aspect of our life, can we, as believers, truly be considered to be trusting God? If we are trusting him, aren’t we trusting him for everything?

Yet we continue to have anxiety over so much in this life that has no value, and is really unnecessary in our lives. 

In the overall passage of Matthew 6:25-34, if the essential things like food, drink, and clothing are not worth worrying about, what are we currently so focused on that can surpass these basic necessities? Notice, there is no promise of shelter, fancy cars or successful businesses. Life is more than all these things, and they can distract us from what is really important.

According to Yeshua, if we are seeking first the kingdom above the cares of the basic necessities of food, drink, and clothing, we are exhibiting trust in God that he will provide these basic things while we are focused on the more essential realities. In his Providence and timing God can certainly provide those homes and cars and businesses, and it’s not wrong to prepare those things in your life. But we have to remember God is not obligated to make us successful in the world’s eyes, and we need to keep our primary focus on his purposes and kingdom.

Instead, let’s replace our anxieties of an unknown future with gratefulness for what we do have. God has not provided us the ability to foresee the future, but if you are reading this right now, he has given us today. We need to be living for him and his kingdom in the here and now, and not be worrying about some fictional future that may or may not come to pass. God meets all of our needs now, and we can dwell in his presence each day, resting assured that he is the great Provider. 

This is trusting God.

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