Best of Daily Reflections: The End of Worry
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
I am a chronic worrier. If worry is a sin, then this is probably my #1 offense. I have been a worrier since I was a young boy. That seems odd because I had a stable, loving family. But my mind has always been particularly adept at stirring up things to fret about. I can worry about what is known and what is unknown, about what is likely and what is unlikely. I can worry about things over which I have some control (like my work) and over things about which I am completely powerless (like the weather). As a father with two teenage children, both now of driving age, with one getting ready to go off to college in New York City, you can imagine how I do battle with worry these days. So I need Luke 12:25 today. Maybe you do too.
Jesus asks: “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (12:15). This question reveals its obvious answer: No, of course not. In fact, medical science shows that worry might very well shorten your life. And, to be sure, worry compromises the quality of life. When I’m worrying, I’m much less peaceful, joyful, and grateful.
It’s all well and good to say that we shouldn’t worry and that worry doesn’t help us. But how can we keep from worrying? And if we in the middle of an anxious spell, how can we stop?
The antidote to worry, according to Jesus in Luke 12, is the assurance that comes from God’s care for us. This care is illustrated in his provision for the ravens, who don’t store up food but have enough to eat, nevertheless. Jesus also points to lilies, which are gloriously dressed even though they have relatively little value. If God, through the natural order of things, cares so much for ravens and lilies, then how much more he cares for you and for me.
As you might expect, I’ve spent a fair amount of my life wrestling this passage and others like it. My worrying self can pick away at Jesus’ analogies: ravens can be killed; lilies can be trampled. But my faithful self focuses on the point Jesus is making: God cares for me more than I realize. God will take care of me. My life may not go exactly how I’d like it to, but I have put my whole self in the strong and safe hands of God.
As I reflect on all that God has done for me, all the ways he has been faithful, I find worry losing its grip on my heart. Oh, I’m not done with worry, I’m sorry to say. But its power in my life wanes as I experience God’s goodness and trust him more and more. Thanks be to God for his faithfulness, patience, and mercy!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever struggle with worry? What adds to your worry? What helps you to worry less? What reassures you about God’s care for you?
PRAYER: Thank you, dear Lord, for this passage in Luke. I need the reminder not to worry. I need to remember your faithful care, even for the ravens and the lilies. I need to be jolted by the fact that worry will not add one moment to my life and may very well subtract several moments from it.
Yet, as you know, I cannot simply stop myself from worrying. This freedom is a gift from you. It comes, in part, as I reflect upon your goodness throughout creation. It comes as I remember how good you have been to me. And it comes as your Spirit graciously calms my heart and helps me to trust you more.
Today, Lord, when I’m tempted to worry...and I surely will be...may I remember your goodness and trust you. May I let go of my worry in order to grasp your strong hand. Amen.