A Word about Worry
The entire world has been plunged into uncharted waters. The most natural thing in the world for us when we face tremendous uncertainty is for us to worry. People are worried about whether they’re going to get sick or whether loved ones will get sick. For those of us nearing the age of retirement, we’re worried about our savings. People are worried about whether they’re going to have a job or be able to find a job. People are worried simply about paying their bills and about whether they are going to be evicted. The entire world is anxious. But we are mistaken about the source of our worries.
We believe that the source of our worry is outside of us
If you ask almost anyone, “Why are you so worried?”, people might respond because of the stock market or unemployment or concerns about getting ill. This is on top of all the other normal worries that we have. A family member or friend may have a drug problem or may be going through a divorce or is in the hospital. We are worried, we believe, because of all the problems outside of us that are piling up until we feel crushed.
But Jesus says to you and me, “You’ve completely misunderstood the source of your worry. It’s not because of all this stuff is happening around you. The reason that you worry is because of something inside of you.”
We read in Luke 12:15
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “You think that you’re going to secure your life if you just had a little more. Then you think you’d feel ok. But you are deceiving yourself because enough will never be enough for you. You have an insatiable appetite for more!”
We saw this on display in the most vivid terms these past few weeks in America. How many rolls of toilet paper are enough? How many bottles of hand sanitizer are enough? People are getting into fistfights over toilet paper. When is enough enough?
Jesus then turns to people who are barely making it and in essence says, “Do you know what your problem is? You worry too much.” Jesus tells these poor folks, “Don’t worry!” This is really encouraging counsel because you and I can’t control anything that’s happening outside of us. We have no power over Wall Street. The only thing we really have control of is ourselves – what’s going on inside of our hearts. Jesus is giving you and me a really hopeful word in saying, “You do not have to react the way everybody else is. You can choose to not worry.” Whether you’re well off or whether you’re poor, Jesus says that we’re mistaken about the source of our worries – worry does not come from our circumstances. The source of worry is our own hearts!
What is the Christian response to worry?
Who is in control
Jesus speaks about the cause of worry:
25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
The cause of worry is the attempt by you and me to control the uncontrollable. Central to the problem of worry is the illusion that we’re in control when we’re not. We think if I could just do retirement right my future will be secure. If I just stock up on enough toilet paper and hand sanitizer and dog food, we can ride this thing out. If I can figure out the right child-raising technique or use the right form of discipline, that will guarantee that my kids will turn out all right. We worriers always have control issues. And Jesus is saying to us, “You can’t control much of anything. You can’t add a single hour to your life.”
Jesus says, instead,
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
Jesus calls on his disciples to consider the wild flowers. He’s telling us to think about how little control the wild flower has over its life. The flower doesn’t choose which field it will grow in. And you didn’t choose where you were born, when you were born, what family you grew up in, who your parents were or anything else about the circumstances of your birth.
The flower has no control over what grows around it. It might have to fight for its life because there are all these weeds and thorns. And we have no control over what is growing up around us. You may have grown up in a family where you were not the favorite or you had to fight for your life.
The flower has no control over the weather - whether it’s raining or drought. We have no control over what our employer is doing or what the government decides. We can’t control what our neighbors are doing. We have no control over the stock market or the coronavirus.
The truth is that only God is in control of everything. Do you really believe that? If you believe in God’s control and you believe God is good and will work everything together for your good, then you should never be anxious. God rules over Satan. God rules over viruses. God rules over banks and corporations. God rules over governments. God rules over your body and the chemistry that’s at work in your body. God rules over every cell of your body.
And if God rules over everything and he’s working everything together for our good, then what do we have to worry about? It is guaranteed that we will experience future pain. It is also guaranteed that there will be future difficulty. But if worse comes to worse, God, our Father, will still be in control. God knows everything about the future and promises to work everything for our good.
Who you are
When talking about the wild flowers, Jesus is not talking about hybrid roses that are carefully tended to. He’s talking about wild flowers growing by the side of the road. Jesus is saying if God makes wild flowers that nobody worries about, that are growing in the gravel, so beautiful that they outshine even Solomon the King in all of his splendor, how much more will you outshine these wild flowers? What Jesus is saying is that even if we were to die God will clothe us more gloriously than King Solomon!
We don’t need to worry about our health. We don’t need to worry about the money that we’ve got invested in the stock market. Jesus says to his children, “I’ll give you an eternal inheritance.” We don’t need to worry if there’s enough hand sanitizer in the grocery store. The blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse you better than any hand sanitizer ever will.
Who is in control of all of these seemingly uncontrollable events? God! Who are we to God? We are more precious than wild flowers. God promises he will clothe us in glory. Therefore, do not worry!
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