Give Thanks in Anxiety
Open Your Bible
Habakkuk 3:17-19, Matthew 6:25-34, John 6:4-14, 1 Peter 5:6-7
BY Vina Mogg
My favorite place in the Pacific Northwest is Mt. Rainier. In the summer, thousands of wildflowers carpet the hills with shades of purple and gold and crimson and blue. The air is filled with the scent of blossoms flourishing below the majestic crown of the mountain. This splendor is described in the verse we read today: “Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these” (Matthew 6:28–29).
But something inside us is wired to labor and spin. We worry about kids, marriages, health, world events, work, what we will prepare for dinner, and what we will wear. Though these things are good, somehow through comparison or pride, our perspective becomes distorted when we believe everything is under our control. And what about the Big Worries? The ones too difficult to even speak? How will we release our hold on those?
There is a silent satisfaction we take in accomplishing and doing instead of just being. But our laboring can turn into a vortex of do lists, worries, and fears of what may or may not happen. Our labors can turn from acts of love into a frenzy of spinning thoughts and endless worries.
Matthew encourages us as we observe the beauty of the wildflowers as an alternative to this labor. That can sound easy to say but harder to live out when our pattern each day is to grab each thought as it comes to ponder or worry over. But Matthew tells us to take on none of these thoughts. The writers of today’s passages instead guide us to do the opposite of our habitual response of worry: Matthew tells us of Jesus’s call to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Habakkuk tells us to “celebrate in the Lord.” Jesus says, “Have the people sit down” (John 6:10). Peter says, “Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God” (1Peter 5:6).
Seek first. Celebrate. Sit down. Humble yourself.
These deliberate actions turn us from spinning to slowing down. They ask us to give into moments of grace and gratitude, exchanging anxious thoughts for waves of peace—peace that soothes when we sit down to read His word, lightness we sense when celebrate the Lord through the melody of a worship song, and freedom we feel when we humble our hearts and let go of directing our own way by surrendering to His.
The cords of anxiety loosen as we turn from spinning our web of anxious thoughts to praising the God who made the heavens and the earth. As we praise, we observe our humble place before a mighty God.
Posturing into this place of humility does not lessen us. Instead, it exalts God as the mighty One who cares so much for His creation—about me, about you—to spin and clothe and adorn us and provide just what is needed, and more, when we seek Him first.