Give Thanks in Anxiety

Open Your Bible

Habakkuk 3:17-19, Matthew 6:25-34, John 6:4-14, 1 Peter 5:6-7

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.

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59 thoughts on "Give Thanks in Anxiety"

  1. Samantha says:

    It struck me today that all Philip needed to do was to ask Jesus who was right there with him for help, but instead he tried to do come up with an answer himself. How many times do I not ask God to help me when He is right there walking with me waiting for me to just ask. He wants to meet my needs yet “you have not because you ask not. “ God help me to give my burdens over to You, looking to Your strength and not my own.

  2. Teresa Donley says:

    “Seek first. Celebrate. Sit down. Humble yourself.” I, too, need to make this my mantra. Notice that “worry about it” is not included in that list. I was also struck by “Celebrate” came right after Seek first.” Not at the end when everything has turned out just fine. We do that as humans, don’t we. When something turns out just as we asked, we celebrate the goodness of God. I need to remember that the celebration comes after seeking and before Gods provision. He wants me to have the faith that I’m able to celebrate BEFORE He has provided. That just makes me feel happy. I can know that God will provide, and have faith that He will do so, as soon as I seek “it” from Him.

    Thank you to Mercy and all the others who responded to my posting about fearing God’s wrath. You gave me new ways to consider God’s discipline, and enabled me to humbly thank Him for the times He brings to my attention that I should be doing , saying, thinking something other than I’m currently doing, saying, thinking. I am so blessed to have all my SRT sisters who provide such wisdom, insight and prayer to one another.

    I am praying for each request as I read them, since I am not able to remember each person at the end of reading for today. I’m praying for those who are seeking employment, those caring for small children, those with rebellious children those waiting for the blessing of a baby, those caring for sick spouses, and the family receiving the gift of a donated organ as well as the donor’s family. I pray that God will intervene in each situation, showing His love and His strength in our weakness.

  3. Teresa Donley says:

    HEIDI , I’m praying for your presentation to be a success and for a sense of calm and confidence to envelop you. I pray you will feel God’s presence as you prepare and as you give your presentation. I pray you will feel and hear the Holy Spirit giving you the words to say. I pray that you, and your audience will be blessed by the insights you discover through this presentation. You are wrapped in prayer by your SRT sisters.

  4. GramsieSue says:

    Well, this one certainly speaks to our situation…
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    So many prayer warriors
    So many caring doctors and nurses
    And God is here in the midst of all of this.
    If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment!
    Hugs to my sister shes ❤️

  5. Heidi says:

    SHARON, JERSEY GIRL – I love it… that’s so awesome… I grew up watching my parents make the decision for my dad to leave a very financially supportive/high position job only for my mom of 3 littles to work as a dental assistant and put dad through full-time seminary. We had some very lean years when I was small, but I have no complaints. While I’m sure it happened, I have no stored memory of lacking in christmas gifts, birthday celebrations, fun times. We never went to bed without food or lived without a car. We didn’t have the largest house on the block or take vacations on the regular – but who cares? I had a lovely childhood and was blessed to actually SEE how God provided at even a young age :)

  6. Heidi says:

    You know… reading and thinking through that passage in Matthew, it hit me (and I’m NOT speaking for every human here…) that I don’t know that most of us really worry that God will provide NOTHING. I don’t think our distrust or worry comes from a place of honestly wondering if He will let us starve, go cold, be cast out with nothing. I *THINK* our distrust in these situations is more so that He will not provide the way I/WE WANT Him to… We don’t trust in the type/source of His provision and often that is because we have a loftier view of what we “deserve” and fail to look at our provision through the lens of pure gratitude. I think, for myself, THAT is where I need to start when in those moments of wonderin how provision will come. Not in expectation that I be “kept” the way I am used to, but in gratitude that He is faithful to His promise to provide and is only capable of providing in the most perfectly appropriate means possible. When I genuinely seek HIM first – and not His hand – I think that gratitude comes more naturally…

    I know I’ve said it before but I believe it’s worth repeating – gratitude, like forgiveness, is a tool God has given us for OUR benefit. When, in trials, I choose to stop and just start listing from big to small what blessings I have had/still have, it doesn’t take long before my heart is boldly reminded of all the times God has already been present – and it begs me to ask myself, why would He suddenly change His mind now? Again – I know the answers and provision are not always in the form that WE would choose… but that’s when we get honestly to ask, is He still good and faithful and worthy *even then*? I still struggle at times with that, but I know He is. He’s proven it throughout history and will continue proving it until the day we all see Him face to face.

    THANKS to you all who are praying… my presentation/teaching session for Acts 2:42-47 is tomorrow (probably around 3p or 4p eastern time, if I have the schedule right). Sunday and Monday as I was preparing the bulk of it, I just kept shaking, bursting into tears, overwhelmed by anxiety and fear and inadequacy. Yesterday was a bit better, today as well (thought just thinking about it, fear creeps in). I KNOW that this task is something God is wanting to grow me in and that in my future in ministry it will be something I am called on to do well for Him – and I know that is why the enemy is taunting me with everything possible to convince me I cannot do it. This is a skill set he does NOT want to see matured in me – so I am praying that the Holy Spirit blows the whole thing out of the water! Both for that foolish enemy to see, and honestly, for me to see too!! ;)

  7. Gayle Craik says:

    Perfect scripture as I am flying to Reno to meet with oncologist Forsythe to discuss natural treatment for the cancer %

  8. EJ says:

    “Our labors can turn from acts of love into a frenzy of spinning thoughts and endless worries.” Wow. This hit home especially after hosting Thanksgiving dinner last week with much stress and worry. I will be pondering on this for a while. “Seek first. Celebrate. Sit down. Humble yourself.”