There is a very real temptation to be anxious about life that is pervasive in our present culture and world. Many things in life that we have accepted as normal are now anything but normal. Just the events of this past week in our government are heartbreaking and so very contrary to what we have experienced as normal. How are we as followers of Jesus supposed to respond to events that are so contrary to how God has told His people to live? With the uncertainty that is prevalent in so many different areas of life, is it not understandable that many people resort to anxiety and worry? How do we process the future when so much is unknown?
Take some time to think about history. It is more common than not that the future is really unknown. Think about the certainty of who will win any of the past major wars in our world. Many people have survived a leader of their country making an unpopular decision that restricts their everyday life, and because of the national polity, what that leader says is law. Think about severe droughts and famines where a good day is just getting food and water. The reality is that experiencing a life where the day-to-day certainties are consistent and consistently positive is really unusual. And yet that is what we have enjoyed for most of our lives.
Even if we do begin to realize the blessings that have been bestowed on our culture, this still does not give us a good deal of hope as to how we should live our lives from here. For this, we find the instructions and hope as to how we are to live in the Bible. In Matthew 6 when Jesus is giving instructions not to be anxious, He tells us not to worry about what we are to wear and what we are to eat. He uses a few examples, such as the clothing of the flowers and the food for sparrows, as to how God takes care of His creation. The culminating command in this argument for us to not be anxious is found in verse 33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” It seems to me that we sometimes hear the directive to not be anxious and then try to obey. But do you really listen to the commands to #1 – “Seek first the kingdom of God”, and #2 – Seek His “righteousness”? When we strive to seek God first and His righteousness, we can begin to realize the joy of not being anxious. Are we holding on to things in this life too tightly, maybe even idolizing, so that we cannot appreciate what God has given
us each day in this life?
If we want to have an unflawed understanding of how we are to think and respond to the things of the world, we should read through the Lord’s prayer a bit earlier in Matthew 6 . Starting in verse 9 we read, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” This gives us a proper place to start. We need to begin by relying on and submitting to God our Heavenly Father. We are to give him the revered respect and honor due His name. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We need to desire that God’s kingdom come to this earth the way we are promised it will be in heaven. We are to desire that the Lord will have His way here on earth. We are to desire to be in His will here on earth. “Give us this day our daily bread.” We must realize that our heavenly Father meets all of our daily needs. We are dependent on Him and He desires us to rely on Him and not have some false security that we are self-sufficient. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” It seems like we are really good at keeping lists of offenses but not so adept at forgiving others and living in peace with all men. We are to pursue holiness in every area of our lives as we ask God to, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God has promised He will provide a way out of temptation and not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. We must be seeking God’s provision of delivering us from our evil ways. This model of how to pray instructs us to focus on God and not on ourselves. We are calling on Him to do His work in this world and in our lives. So many times I think we ask God to bless the plans that we have for our lives. That is not how He designed this relationship to work.
So what are we to do in our lives now that so much has become uncertain? What God is asking from us really is pretty simple. We are to put Him first. We are to submit and depend on Him for all of our needs. This includes the need for protection and guidance regarding the temptation to sin. Also, we are to long for the day when His kingdom here on earth is the same as it is in heaven. We are to be peacemakers starting with asking for forgiveness and continuing to seek peace with everyone. Above all else, we are to trust that God is sovereign and in control of everything. We don’t need to concern ourselves with “making things right.” That is for God to figure out. We are to trust Him and seek Him with our lives. Matthew 6 concludes with verse 34, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” So yes, God is very interested in us not worrying about the future, but getting through this day with the joy and peace that only He can give. Don’t get worked up about things that are down the path. Rather focus on the ways God is blessing your today!