I struggle with anxiety all the time.
What I mean is, I am constantly worrying about things that I cannot control. In the past year, I experienced my first panic attacks. If you ever had a panic attack before, you know what I am describing.
For those who have not, a panic attack is a mixture of terrible thoughts and feelings of impending doom. For me, it feels like I am having a heart attack and my body trembles uncontrollably. It feels like I am about to die and like the whole world is turning into darkness and caving in around me.
Thankfully, our Lord gave us practical advice on how to handle anxiety in Luke 12:22-31. This has been so helpful to me, and I hope it’s helpful to you as well.
1. Change Your Perspective.
Jesus first tells His audience to change their perspective. They were worried about their food and clothing. Jesus reminds them that life is more than our physical needs. There are more important things that we need to focus on in this life. This helps with anxiety because it can help us weed out those things that we know shouldn’t worry us. And this not to say that God doesn’t care about our physical needs, as Jesus’ next point makes clear.
2. See God’s Providential Care.
Jesus asks his audience to look around them and see the ravens. They do not sow and reap their own crops, and yet God feeds them and takes care of them. “Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Jesus says. He repeats this idea by comparing clothing to the beauty of flowers. The flowers do not work, and yet God clothes them with a splendor that is more beautiful than Solomon was in all of his glory. If God feeds the birds and clothes the grass, and you are more important than birds and grass, how much more will God take care of you as His child?
3. Realize that Anxiety is Powerless.
This is one of my favorite sayings about worry: “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair; you are moving, but you aren’t going anywhere.” Jesus says it even better: “Can any of you add a cubit to his height by worrying?” (Luke 12:25 HCSB).
In other words, anxiety is like trying to grow a foot and a half taller by merely thinking hard about it. How ridiculous is that? Anxiety has no power to do anything, so why let it have power over you?
4. Remember that God Knows Your Needs.
The nations make these things their primary focus, but you don’t have to because “your Father knows that you need them.” God knows. God sees. God cares. He is not an absent Father but a present one.
Before Jesus gave us the model prayer, He said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this” (Matthew 6:8-9a). The fact that God knows what we need before we pray shouldn’t discourage us from praying. Instead, it should encourage us to pray because we know that God is already aware of our needs and is already working and providing for us!
5. Focus on the Kingdom.
Lastly, Jesus urges us to seek God’s kingdom first, and God will take care of the rest. This goes back to the first point of changing our perspective. We cannot be consumed with worry if we are instead consumed with seeking God’s Kingdom.
Jesus closes with an incredible promise: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It brings God joy to give you the kingdom. He wants you to have it and He freely gives it to you.
Change your perspective. See God’s providential care. Realize that anxiety is powerless. Remember that God knows your needs. Focus on the Kingdom. Do these things, and you will not be anxious about your life.
So fear not, little flock. God is your Shepherd and His desire is for you.