Friday, December 18, 2009

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down

Why is it we spend so much time thinking about what has already happened or about what may possibly happen sometime in the future? Are these thoughts nothing but our own created world? Don't they frequently lead us to worries and anxiety? When we are absorbed in these thoughts where is God?

Especially in this difficult economic climate we find ourselves worrying about many things. As one of many possible recent examples, I have had several people approach me seeking advice about how to deal with the possibility of foreclosure on their house. They were extremely frightened. One was frightened about his inability to support his family and possibly losing his marriage. Another was a builder fretting about losing his equity and his reputation necessary for access to loans in the future to continue his business. Both built dreadful scenarios in their heads about possible consequences that might befall them in the future.  Their anxiety was so great that they could not think clearly about what they needed to do today: i.e. talk to bank about alternatives, talk to parents about assistance, and for the builder, become creative in dealmaking. They were so stressed that even feared sharing their problem with their spouses. As recorded in Proverbs
 (12:25) “Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down …” Where was God?

How did Jesus instruct us?  He says,
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 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? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"(Lk 12:22-25)
Here He is pointing out that our worries add next to nothing to our life, only "one cubit," the smallest of measure. He also points out that even the ravens or crows, considered to be unclean birds in his time and not fit for eating, are provided for by God. So why should we worry about our life?

He continues,
"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.  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?" (Lk 12:27-28)
Here He equates our worries to not having sufficient faith. But the reality is, just as He provides for the lillies and the ravens, He surely will provide for us. But what are we to do when we are in difficulty and can't make our house payments or provide decent food for our family?

Jesus says,

"For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you" (Lk 12:30-31).
Jesus tells us not to rely on our thoughts but instead to concentrate on Him and His kingdom, "to seek the kingdom of God." It is in this way that we will be informed about how to care for ourselves without anxiety or fear. There is no need for worry when we have faith and God to guide us. As we lift our thoughts to Him, they are clarified, our needs minimized, and we area able to face the worst of situations without fear.

All our thoughts do for us,when they lead us to worry, is to separate us from God. They make us self-centered and reinforce the belief that we are self-reliant beings. Our reasoning become clouded making it more difficult to know what our needs really are and how to provide for them. We exclude God's help.

Our thoughts are dangerous. They can create a false world in our mind. We need to develop the capacity to lift ourselves into the spirit that resides within us, focusing on God, setting our thoughts aside so we can open our hearts to God. He will show us the way, not for aggrandizement in this world, but how to live a way that gains us eternal life in His kingdom. Like the birds and the flowers, He provides for His creation and He will provide for us. But we must overcome the entangling web of our own thoughts, the fantasy world we create in our own minds, if we are gong to hear what he intends for us.

In Matthew's version Jesus says,
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" 
(Matt 6:31-34).

Lesson: We must live in the present with our attention directed towards God, lifting our thoughts to a higher source.  This is what the Orthodox Way of Life helps us do. Pray, worship and participate in the sacraments, and be watchful.


  1. Am really encouraged by the verse, how anxiety in a man's heart brings him down and how a kind word makes him glad.

  2. I have bring brought down by anxiety in my heart, am down, silenced by situation but I thank God because of a kind i.e. the word of God that has uplifted me. God bless


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