Have you ever been paralyzed by your to-do list? I remember a time early in my career when I essentially had two different types of jobs to do. I would literally finish one set of tasks and then move to a different desk to complete the other half of my responsibilities. At one point I became so overwhelmed that I couldn’t get anything done. My worry caused me to flit from one task to another until I had everything half-finished but nothing complete.
My manager sat me down and asked me why I wasn’t finishing my projects. After I explained the mental meltdown I was experiencing, she realized I needed help prioritizing my tasks. She sat me down and said, “Do this first. Then do this. Then do that.” She helped me focus on one thing at a time and shared her confidence in my ability to complete the tasks.
When we trust God to guide us, He, too, can diffuse our anxieties by giving us clear guidance. Here’s why we so often give in to worry and what we can do to change our response:
Feelings of inadequacy. Problems can so overwhelm us that we feel insignificant and incapable of doing anything about them. But Jesus advises us to “look at the birds” (Matt. 6:26). They seem so small and inconsequential, yet God takes upon Himself the responsibility to feed them. If God cares so much for them, we can be certain that He will be faithful to meet our needs as well.
Our attempt to change things we cannot control. Jesus reminds us that many situations are beyond our ability to alter. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27). Whenever we encounter circumstances that we cannot change, the only wise option is to turn them over to the only one who can handle them—God.
Our failure to trust God to provide our needs. After explaining how the Lord clothes the lilies of the field with more glory than even Solomon had, Jesus exhorts us not to worry about clothing because He will provide whatever we need (Matt. 6:28-30). When we worry that our needs won’t be met, we demonstrate a lack of faith in God. Part of our problem is that we don’t know what our needs truly are. Sometimes the situation may look like the Lord has let us down, but in reality, He’s supplying for a need that we may not even know we have.
Misplaced priorities. Instead of focusing on obtaining the necessities of life, Jesus tells us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). When we make it our top priority to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, seeking to walk obediently in His ways, God promises to supply whatever else we need.
Trying to live tomorrow today. Planning ahead is good, but sometimes our overloaded calendars lead to an overwhelming sense of time pressure. If we’ll wake up each morning with our thoughts on the Lord, committing ourselves to do whatever He says, we’ll be able to go through the day with peace and joy as we watch Him work out everything.
Do you need help making sense of the chaos in your life? Slow down and take one moment at a time, realize that God’s grace is sufficient, and trust Him to care for you.
Adapted from Dr. Charles Stanley’s message on “Dealing with Anxiety”. From InTouch.