Look to the Lord

Hello brothers and sisters~

Do you ever struggle with sleep due to anxiety? For example, maybe you’re trying to fall asleep, but your mind has gone down the path of thinking about what is “on your plate” in the days ahead or past. Perhaps it’s an important responsibility you have at work, maybe a difficult conversation you need to have or have had with your spouse or close friend or family member, or perhaps there is some other burden weighing on you—the bottom line is that whatever it is, it is consuming your thoughts and even has your stomach churning in knots causing you to lose sleep.

This is tough, isn’t it? Not only is the anxiety tough, but then you consider that you’re going to be short on sleep and that makes you even more worked up, knowing you need good rest to face the day ahead. What a vicious cycle! I know, because I’m speaking from personal experience. Sometimes this happens while I’m first trying to go to sleep, and other times this happens very early in the morning. Either way, I find myself getting wrapped up in things that, at present, that I have no ability to practically address. And of course, this type of thing doesn’t just happen at night does it? Anxieties can grip us any time of the day.

Two Sundays ago, I addressed this issue of anxiety. I did so because Jesus did in Matthew 6:25-24. After challenging us to only treasure God in the verses prior (19-24), here he says we must also cast off anxiety by trusting God. After all, as Christians God is our heavenly Father who greatly cares for us. Yes, he takes care of birds and lilies, but he cares so much more for his image-bearers—especially those who are His children through faith in Christ.

This doesn’t mean God exists for our “wealth” or “best life,” as prosperity teachers of our day wrongly dupe people to believe. No, he looks to meet our necessities—and of course even then his definition of what we need may differ from ours. But make no mistake, God loves his children and is fully worthy of our trust in Him. When beginning to give in to our anxieties, we should instead turn our thoughts and prayers to God, the Provider and Sustainer of our lives.

That’s plenty of review from the sermon. If I keep going, I might give you the temptation for more anxiety! ☺ Instead, I want to focus on the last verse of this section: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v.34).

This closing verse on anxiety from our Lord has a different feel to it, doesn’t it? It’s less theological and more pragmatic than the previous verses. You might even say it’s a tad pessimistic, or at least more realistic. Why is this? Because it is frank about the “trouble” that each day we live presents us with: “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Every one of you reading this (and myself as well) feel the reality of this “trouble.” In fact, it’s the “trouble” of our daily lives that often feeds our anxiety. The sleep that we lose centers around the thought of today or tomorrow’s troubles. But here’s where our Lord stoops down and gives us additional help to meet us in our weakness. He reminds us that getting wrapped up in tomorrow’s temptations to worry only doubles up your worries for today. And I tell you what, if we take even just today’s troubles in our own strength without looking to the Lord, we will be buried—let alone adding tomorrow’s as well. So why take on tomorrow’s, too?

Now this doesn’t preclude times where you have to plan for what you’ll do tomorrow (or the next day). Certainly we make plans and do what we can to do prepare for tomorrow. But on the other hand, we can’t live tomorrow today. And God’s grace for tomorrow will only be given to us—surprise, surprise—tomorrow!

SO beloved, let us live our daily lives truly in the present day we’re living. Don’t succumb to anxiety for things you can’t control (whether they’re tomorrow or today). Yes, if you have something you’re responsible for doing in front of you, do it relying on the Lord’s help (see 1 Peter 4:11). This is not a call to passivity! It is a call to faith in the Lord—to going forward with each day’s “troubles” looking to Him for the grace, wisdom, and skill needed.

If the stress that’s mounting inside of you is outside of your ability to remedy, then look to the Lord in prayer. As Peter speaks of in His first letter, “Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, also Phil. 4:4-7). And after you’ve done that? Go to sleep! After all, the One who is in control of all things and able to do all things according to His good character and His wise plans is not sleeping! He who watches over you will never slumber nor sleep (see Ps. 121:4). And He is worthy of our trust.

Trying to stir up more faith in all of us~

Dennis