By Michael Kelley
I’m a bit of a weather nerd. If you ask my wife, that last sentence is an understatement; she gets no end of enjoyment watching me stand on the porch, simultaneously watching the clouds and the weather app on my phone.
But unlike the typical weather nerd, I’m not standing on that porch in the blinding rain out of fascination or enjoyment; I’m standing there out of anxiety.
In the spring and early summer, we would have two to three tornado warnings a week, and I would wake up on a near daily basis and turn on the weather just to see if I had anything to worry about that day.
That anxiety has stayed with me these thirty or so years, and though I do have a “wake me up” app on my phone just in case of a funnel cloud, I still live with that general sense of worry when I know a storm is coming.
There are plenty of things in the world to worry about. In fact, as I’ve grown further into adulthood, I’ve almost daily found more and more reasons for anxiety.
There might be, then, no more countercultural command than the one we find from Jesus in Matt. 6:25–32, part of the Sermon on the Mount:
Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying?
And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these.
If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith?
So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Make no mistake—the issue of worry, to Jesus, is not merely emotional. And his command in this passage carries with it the same weight as any of his other commands in Scripture.
We make a drastic error when we think that this command regarding worry is in a different category than his commands regarding adultery, lying, or anything else.
The Son of God, with all the authority of heaven, says that the children of God must not worry. That means the anxiety I feel is more than a momentary feeling; it’s outright disobedience to Jesus.
This is where I take a bit of offense, because frankly, as an adult, the command to not worry seems a bit unrealistic.
Don’t worry? Come on, Jesus. You can’t really mean that. I mean, look at the level of responsibility I have. And have you looked around the world lately? Imagine trying to raise a kid in these circumstances.
It’s a nice idea and all, but it’s really not practical. The very suggestion that we should not worry is not only a denial of reality; it’s actually irresponsible.
But when we think more deeply about the issue of worry and anxiety, we come to see that worry is really a barometer of what we believe about God.
A barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure. Why would we want to measure atmospheric pressure? Certainly not for the fascination of doing so.
Atmospheric pressure is really just a checkpoint to help predict short-term changes in weather. As the atmospheric pressure changes, the actual weather conditions are sure to follow.
A barometer, then, is an instrument that gives a good indicator of something else—something much more relevant and important. Such is worry to the life of the Christian.
Worry is more than a negative character trait or a habit to overcome. Worry is a barometer that reveals what we believe to be true—or not true—about God at the deepest levels of our souls.
MICHAEL KELLEY (@_MichaelKelley) is the groups ministry director for LifeWay Christian Resources.
Excerpted with permission from Growing Down by Michael Kelley. Copyright 2018, B&H Publishing Group.