Life has a way of making you feel like you can’t trust God with your future. There are so many things to get done, so many things to achieve and so many people to compare ourselves to. So many uncertainties. The list is endless. All these things make us worry and feel anxious about how things will turn out.
Who Has the Power to Change?
For as long as I can remember I’ve excelled at worrying. Looking back, I hate to think how that broke my God’s heart. Daily I was anxious about whether I would make it through the day. Despite repeatedly reaching the end of that day, then the next, and those that followed.
I worried about things like: Will I find sponsorship for my tertiary education? Will I graduate? If I graduate will I get a job? And if get a job will it pay the bills? After I’ve paid my bills will that job enable me to save, to live above the bare minimum? I think you get the point. I was an expert at obsessing over problems that were years in the future. Uncertainty over my career is just one of the many examples I could give. Regardless of how many times I read Philippians 4:6-7, I worried about things only God has the power to change.
Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Regardless of how many times I read Philippians 4:6-7, I worried about things only God has power to change
The Sin of Anxiety
I was living in sin. Often, we only pay attention to the ‘big sins’. These include theft, murder or adultery. Because I’m not doing those things I can persuade myself I’m not living in sin. But not trusting God for what the future holds is just that: sin. We might pray and ask him to provide and care, only for anxiety to follow straight after our “Amen.” We may rightly entrust our futures to God only to easily worry about how he’s going to do it.
There is much to worry about: awaiting results of any kind, interviewing for a position, sitting exams, and not hearing from loved ones. Hear D. A. Carson, “Paul does not deny the agony and sorrow of many human experiences. How could he? His letters show that he suffered his share of the worst. But he knows the solution. Either worrying drives out prayer, or prayer drives out worrying.” It is true, the human experience tends towards anxiety. But that is where God meets us, as we meet him in prayer.
We may rightly entrust our futures to God only to easily worry about how he’s going to do it
Trust in Your Good Provider
Jesus preached, “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will drink, nor about your body what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).
Material things are mentioned here in the light of what we need for our day to day life and survival. But worrying about them changes nothing besides possibly your blood pressure. Jesus goes on to link worry and anxiety to having “little faith” (Matthew 6:28-30). Then he continues, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:31-34).
Today’s Troubles are Enough
The end of this passage is what really gets me, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Why was I worrying about problems that were years away? Again, let me offer a disclaimer: I am in no way saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. I am saying we can worry about it less than we do. We can be assured that God, our heavenly Father, knows what we need. But time and time again I read these and other verses like them only to resort to anxiety and worry. There were many reasons why I could have been living like this but for now, I will highlight one, which I think we all fall prey to.
I am in no way saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. I am saying we can worry about it less than we do.
I was focused on my neighbours’ blessings. Not in a jealous way. But I would simply wonder when my turn would come. I was constantly comparing my life with theirs. Some people have described this as the rat race, which places everyone in a competition. Only the aspirations of this race are rarely concerned with what really matters. We all want to drive the car others will notice, build the house of our dreams and travel the world before we turn 30.
Trust Glorifies God
But God requires us to work hard and do our best with the gifts he has given. He is glorified when we do that. The rat race glories in human achievements, while it is driven by worldly aspirations. We quickly forget that God has told us that he will supply our every need. And we focus on the person next to us, what they are wearing, where they live, what car they drive, how much property they own and try to catch up or finish ahead. Anxiety and worry readily result when we fail to “catch up”.
We need to believe that we are not competing for the podium but awaiting the crown God has promised to those who are faithful
It took me a while to realise I was living in this sin of worry, by constantly comparing my blessings to others. Thank God he doesn’t leave us the way he found us and continues to sanctify us. I know without a doubt that even on the bad days, God knows what I need and he will provide for me. He has promised this. I know that I am on my own path and shouldn’t use the success of others as my measure of where I should be in life. We need to believe that we are not competing for the podium but awaiting the crown God has promised to those who are faithful.