There are days when I have to remind myself to breathe and my heart to beat—days when the overwhelm seems to overflow, filling in the spaces of my chest until it’s weighed down and heavy. Sometimes it has left me feeling frozen. Other times it has left me feeling like a firecracker waiting for someone to light the fuse.
And though deep breaths bring temporary healing in these moments, I can’t help but sing of the peace that Christ’s loving voice has brought me in these times of anxiety. There are daily practices that can help us quiet our worries, but I’ve found none to be as powerful as simply turning to Jesus.
That’s why I want to share a passage that I’ve tried to keep close to my heart the last few years as God has gently pushed me to brave the battlefield—to take up His strength and run towards His peace. In my small pocket Bible, the title of the passage is simply “Do Not Worry.”
In Matthew 6:25-34, Christ commands us not to worry, shedding light on the worldly worries that can distract us from His truths and promises. In those familiar times of overwhelm, these are the verses I will often read and meditate on.
Grab your Bible and read with me as we look deeper into this passage and learn how God’s provision and promises can free us from the grips of overwhelm and anxiety.
Read Matthew 6:25-27
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Sometimes, being overwhelmed with life’s physical things, like appearance, possessions, and schedules, can distract us from our source of life. For me, I know this leads to feeling exhausted and empty—in those times, every small request for energy feels impossible. I know I’m guilty of trying to drink from the world’s well. It tells me if I just own this, if I just look like that, if I just add one more thing to my busy schedule, I’ll be quenched. But drinking from the world’s well can never quench my soul the way the Lord can—He nourishes my spirit with peace, joy, hope…
1) What does worry and anxiety feel like to you? What things overwhelm you?
2) Do you see yourself obsessing over physical needs to the point of neglecting your spiritual and eternal needs? How do you think this might cause you to become overwhelmed with worry?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
I’ve always loved the idea of nature as a testament to God’s goodness and faithfulness. If we don’t trust in His provision, we can become consumed with control—constantly worried that we won’t be provided for, the fear of our futures crippling, and the joy of the present stolen. In these verses, we’re encouraged to trust in the Lord to provide each day as He does for all of His creation. Worrying won’t add time to your life, but it can certainly take it away.
1) What other ways does his creation attest to His providence?
2) Do you see areas of your own life where your desire for control and lack of faith is causing you to not be present, become frozen, or fear for your future? Write these down and pray that God would help you trust in His guidance and providence.
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Again, Christ goes back to our worry with physical needs. Solomon was a king and had an incomprehensible amount of wealth. Even so, Christ says that the flowers of the field are more beautifully dressed than Solomon ever was. He still draws our attention to what is eternal—while the flowers and their outward adornments are beautiful, they are “here today and gone tomorrow.” We, on the other hand, are designed for the worship of God and for eternal life.
1) If in God’s eyes our outward adornments pale in comparison to the lilies that He clothed, what does that mean for us? In what ways does God clothe us?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
When we feel our peace slip away, we can come back with prayer and meditation in the word to mend the emotions that come from believing lies and becoming overwhelmed with distraction. In Matthew 6, we see Christ attacking anxiety and encouraging peace with truth and a beckoning back to what’s important—what’s eternal.
When you feel your chest filling with the overwhelm that comes from worrying about tomorrow, about things of this world, things out of your control, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” Nothing compares to the peace and healing that come from setting your eyes on Him.