Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

Core of the Bible Podcast #34: Steps to reducing anxiety that are founded on trusting God

Today we will be exploring the topic of trust or faith, and how God is faithful to provide for all of our needs, reducing our anxiety over that which is unknown when we place our trust in him and follow some simple biblical directives .

Yeshua stated it this way:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:26-32

Your life is more valuable to God than all the beauty and provision represented in his Creation; he knows all of your needs.

As believers, we are easily and constantly distracted from what is truly important by our bodily needs and desires. Living on this earth presents us with challenges and struggles that can pull our focus away from God.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH TRUST IN GOD

Trust is about perspective. When we focus on the things of this world more than God, then we have lost our true perspective. Yeshua calls this condition “little faith.”

Yet, the simplicity of trusting God can restore us to the correct spiritual perspective and emotional “center.” A sincere understanding of God and his ability to provide for our basic needs gives us a foundation of trust that we can then build on. When this reality seeps deep inside to our core, it becomes a tap-root that can sustain us through the most adverse conditions.

According to Yeshua’s instruction here in Matthew 6, God cares for what he creates. Whether birds, flowers, grass, or people, he has built into his Creation practical mechanisms for sustenance that allow his universe to thrive. Seeing this provision and beauty within his Creation is his evidence to us, his proof, that he has the ability to provide for our needs. All we have to do is recognize this, and rest safely and securely within his care.

We are urged by Yeshua to ponder these evidences for ourselves. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

When we see birds, we should consider how they can find the food they need without any type of farming or storage of goods. The contrast he makes is stark: day to day provision vs. constant toil and storage which is subject to disaster or thieves.

Is there really a way that we can live day to day, and is this what Yeshua is encouraging all of us to do, to be vagabonds and travelers?

As romantic and idealistic as that sounds, my belief is that Yeshua is emphasizing how we many times will tend to focus on the process and methods of provision so hard that we lose sight of who is the One who is the ultimate Provider.

This is a lesson that I constantly need to be reminded of. As a husband and father of four, I have spent the majority of my adult life concerned with providing for myself and my family. Ultimately, I have known that whatever job or place that I worked was a provision from God, but many times the stress became dominant when I took my focus off of him and sought to provide my own security and provision, or when the demands of the work seemed to overwhelm me.

In those moments, I found that all I had to do was focus on one day at a time, one issue at a time. As I did so, I would find that each new day brought a little clearer perspective and a little more insight, and pretty soon things would be working out.

While this may seem simplistic and a bit naive, it is a method that has allowed me to successfully maintain a career of twenty five years and provide (as well as could be expected) for my family in that time.

That has been my path so far, but it may not be yours. God may be calling you to do any number of things in any number of places; maybe several different places, or hundreds of places, for that matter. The primary thing for believers is to not focus on thinking that you are somehow providing for your own needs all this time, and that whatever you are currently doing is what is expected for the rest of your time here on this earth.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH PRAYER

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Anxiety over things we cannot control not only cannot add any time to our span of life, but actually has been scientifically proven to shorten it. The more we stress over things that have not happened yet, the more we tax our immune and nervous systems to where actual damage can be done to the working of our physical bodies.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Another lesson I continue to learn is on the benefits of ongoing prayer throughout the day, asking for God’s involvement and giving over my stress and anxiety to him.

While I have a pretty good routine of praying first thing in the morning to set my mind on the things of God before setting my mind on the things of the world, I confess, my prayer life throughout the rest of the day is practically non-existent. I become consumed in the responsibilities and requirements of my family, my home, and my work, and the things of God easily slide to the periphery of my experience.

However, I am learning that if I maintain an attitude of thanksgiving and continue to present requests to God throughout the day, real requests about real things, he is faithful to relieve my anxiety on those things, and to provide real evidence of his working through those things I have given over to him.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

If we are to truly take Yeshua’s words to consider the lilies and let this line of thinking sink deep into us, we can find that we have the ability to look past the latest trends and fashions and know that if we are trusting in God, we will have the clothing we need to do whatever it is we need to do. Whether it is clothing for normal use, work clothing, or specialized outfitting for unique environments, God is able to provide whatever we need.

Recall the provision of the ancient Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years, as even Moses reminded them.

Deuteronomy 8:4 – “Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these forty years.

While my clothing may not be the latest style, I certainly have what I need, and more. God has been faithful with me and my family.  Now, while I have never had clothing that lasted for forty years it definitely illustrates for me that if God is able to do that, then he is certainly able to provide whatever our possible needs may be. My trust and faith in him is strengthened when I consider the lilies of the field.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

This admonition was directed to an audience that for the most part did not know where their next meal might come from. They were an agrarian society that depended on the weather, the success of the local crops, and the avoidance of conflict. Warfare could interrupt that food cycle. Drought could interrupt that cycle. Pest invasions could interrupt that food cycle. Food was a precious commodity that hung by a thread on any given day of any month. With no refrigeration or collective grocery commerce, this was a real and daily concern that faced the majority of the population at that time.

However, for most of us today, food and drink are merely distractions that we toy with as to the newest cuisine or latest fad food. In our American culture at least, we have idolized food and food preparation, food consumption, restaurants, chefs, nutrition, food plans. We have TV channels dedicated just to food and food preparation and consumption. Restaurant eating has become a pastime and an adventure.

The variety and volume of food available to the average American consumer is mind-boggling in the context of historical comparison with past cultures and civilizations. And yet, even though we have plenty of necessary food available, we still spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about different kinds of food and what we will be eating.

Ironically, and quite sadly, with all of this food available, we still have a large problem with hunger and need in America. We have become so lop-sided in our thinking that we are missing the forest for the trees. If we were to simplify our food obsession, reduce our available portion sizes, and focus on focusing in on the quality natural food that God originally intended for us, we would be much better off and our national health and outlook would improve greatly. With the right motivation and logistical preparation, this could also allow for some of that surplus to make it to those who are in real need.

Yeshua is encouraging us to look at nature, these natural examples of birds and flowers to remind us that these necessary things are part of existence in this world. Just as birds need to eat and flowers exhibit their God-given splendor, Yeshua prods us to consider these provisions amidst the many unnecessary cares we carry for these things in this world. We can express the wonder at how God makes it all work, and keeps his people provided for among the seeming chaos of this life.

The ancient believers expressed a similar amazement at the care that God bestows upon mankind within the vastness of his Creation:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:1, 3-4

God cares for us, not because we desire him to, but because that is his role as a parent. Just as we always want to ensure our own children are provided for, how much more God wants to do the same for his own children! One of the main aspects of this provision is expressing trust in God that he will do so.

When we know and trust God, we are considered righteous, certainly as we grow and seek to follow his commands and live according to his Word. We exhibit this faith by praying and requesting for God to be active and involved in our lives, and the lives of those around us. This is where the peace that passes understanding resides, in true faith and recognition of God’s all-encompassing provision for his Creation.

REDUCING ANXIETY THROUGH GIVING

Psalm 37:18-19, 25  – The LORD watches over the blameless all their days, and their inheritance will last forever.  They will not be disgraced in times of adversity; they will be satisfied in days of hunger.  … I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.

Where we need to exhibit care is in not condemning those who are hungry and in need, as if somehow they are the cause of their own misfortune by not trusting in the God of the Bible. That may only be a small part of a larger context of areas of the world where they are living through the same issues their ancient progenitors faced: drought, famine, and conflict. As a measure and enactment of our trust and faith in God, we should honor him by sharing with those in need to the best of our ability, whether through personal, hands-on assistance, to local agencies or organizations that are working in those areas to provide assistance to those in need.

Psalm 82:3-4 – “Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.”

Just as it was the responsibility of the ancient Israelite judges to act justly with their own people, it may so happen to be that we are the ones whom God will use to provide the justice and rescue that those in need are desperate for. Sometimes, we may be the answer to the prayers of others.

There is no doubt that food and clothing are essential for life; about these necessities, Yeshua even taught that “your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” As we have opportunity amidst our own wealth and abundance, it may be that God is prompting us to share our resources with those who have none.

As we begin to see the larger picture of provision in the world in general, it allows us to get our eyes off of our own needs and anxieties and instead look for answers and solutions to helping others. Our anxiety can be relieved not only by trusting for God’s provision for us personally and through diligent prayer throughout each day. We can also become less anxious as we find ways to helping others in the way we would want to be helped, were we in the same situation.

Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Our faithfulness in meeting the needs of others is the surest way to reduce our own anxiety over these needs for ourselves. That, in and of itself, is also a provision of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

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