On our recent family vacation, we decided that we would try to find something worth watching on television. This is certainly a challenging task today.
In the process of trying to find a program for our children, we came across many advertisements for new medicines. You know, the advertisement in which the narrator offers a long list of symptoms while the screen shows a dark and dreary scene. Then he announces the name of the new prescription and suddenly, the colors are bright and cheerful and everyone in the scene is happy once again.
We always laugh at the conclusion of these ads because they are required to list all of the possible side effects. Invariably, the “possible” side effects are much worse than whatever problem the medicine is supposed to help. Consider what one of these advertisements might sound like if it was aimed at the average Christian today.
“Do you find yourself unsettled and anxious without knowing why? Does your heart rate increase and are you likely to become angry over things that would not have bothered you some time ago? If you have experienced one or more of these symptoms then you should ask your Savior if God’s Word is right for you.”
Of course, the obvious answer is yes. God’s Word always has the truth that we need. This is especially true for Fathers. Children can see our anxiety. Perhaps your children have asked you, “Dad, why are you so worried?” Your response to this question is critical.
At this moment, you reveal something very important to your children. You show them whether or not you are truly trusting Christ.
Jesus, the Loving Shepherd
As Jesus is speaking with the disciples in Luke 12, He says to them,
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?
29 And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Jesus knows our hearts. He knows that His followers are feeble. He knows what we need to hear in order to be able to keep serving Him in a world that is increasingly hostile to Him. Thus, Jesus speaks to us as a loving Shepherd speaks to His sheep.
Worry, Trust, and the Glory of God
Do not worry about your life - Why did he say this? Because the disciples were like all of us, so prone to worry about our earthly life. This is a command in the present imperative with a negative which means “Stop being worried.”
Clearly, God’s will for His children is trust and not worry. Worry is a byproduct of a lack of trust. C. H. Spurgeon said, “The best cure for the cares of this life is to care much to please God. If we loved him better, we should love the world far less, and be less troubled about our portion in it.”1
There is a subtle distinction between worry and concern, for whereas worry tends to “paralyze” us, genuine concern tends to motivate us. Worry fears the worst and tries to control the future, whereas godly concern hopes for the best and redeems the future.
Worry does not give God the glory due Him (Matthew 5:16) and tends to take our mind off of the things that are important, whereas genuine concern tends to direct our focus to those things that are truly important. A good antidote for present worry is to maintain a “heavenly focus,” continually contemplating the things above (Colossians 3:1-2) and the things to come, especially our blessed future hope (Titus 2:13). In his exposition of Psalm 119:114, Spurgeon offers these helpful words, “Amid fret and worry, a hope of heaven is an effectual balm."2
What is Worry?
The word that is translated as worry was used in classical Greek to describe a condition of being raised up or suspended in the air, like a person dangling from a rope. This word was used to describe a person who felt totally insecure and swinging out of control. Some translations render this as “anxious.” One of the likely roots of this Greek term means to divide; deal out; apportion.3
This is what worry does to a person. Our goals and desires pull us in one direction and our worries and fears pull us in another. Worry distracts people and cuts them into emotional pieces, like a chef slicing away at a cucumber. When a person worries, their peace of mind and ability to focus on the right things is chopped up. Instead of keeping their eyes on the Lord, they focus on things that cannot satisfy.
The Solution to Worry
What then is our Lord’s answer to the pervasive problem of worry? He directs our attention to our Creator. We are told that nothing stems the tide of worry like trust in God. This teaching is concentrated in verses 31 and 32. There we read,
“But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
If we were honest, we would acknowledge that most of our worries come from a lack of focus on eternal things and the God who is Himself eternal. If that is the case for you, as it often is for most of us, take some time to consider this truth - God takes delight in pouring out all the blessings of His kingdom on His beloved children.
In other words, everything that you’re worried about today is a mere trinket compared to what God has already given you in Christ. There is no relationship, treasure, title, or experience that comes even close to the indescribable joy of being in God’s presence. This is the stabilizing truth that Christ shared with His anxious followers that day. This is the same stabilizing truth that we must grab hold of today.
Teach your children to look to Christ. Don’t hide how you are feeling. In those moments when they sense your concern, point toward eternal things and give your children heavenly hope.
Father, “your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Knowing that “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9), gives me hope for today and joy for tomorrow. Thank you for these sweet and precious promises.
Tommy Jeffcott is the senior pastor of Kaysville Bible Church in Kaysville, Utah. He has had the joy of serving there since 2008. Tommy is also actively involved in Christian camp ministry with Pioneer Bible Camp. The Lord has blessed Tommy and his wife Angela with three children.View all posts by Tommy