Let’s read Matthew 6 v 25 – 32 again to see what Jesus says about worry and stress. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Wayne Cordeiro is a Pastor in Hawaii who suffers from stress and has had several breakdowns. He has written some books about avoiding stress and burn out. One of them is called “Leading on Empty”. In it he talks about the sin of introspection: when we stand beside ourselves and look at ourselves critically instead of looking at God and how he sees us. He says I have learned how to be gentle with myself, not to be critical, working on shame issues so that shame is not working itself into the gut level of who I am.
This is what Jesus asks us to do in Matthew 6 v 25 – 32 but there is more. These words of Jesus are topped and tailed by some other keys ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. Jesus uses the word “therefore” which means we have to take note of what has gone before.
Matthew 6 v 19 – 21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We can also look at what follows Jesus’ words on worry.
Matthew 6 v 33 – 34
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In other words the key to good mental health and wellbeing is having the right priorities and a sense of balance in our lives – seek first God’s Kingdom.
Michael Jordan said:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”
When we are depressed or suffering from worry and stress, we often withdraw into ourselves, shutting everyone and everything out. That’s one option. But it isn’t the best one.
The best option is to allow our anxiety, worry and depression to draw us nearer to God. In a quiet place, in a world strangely altered by the life changes that have come upon us, we focus on the one who is both outside of ourselves and within us. And we soon realise that is precisely where we must focus in order to heal.