Q: Jesus said, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25–34), but that can seem impossible. How can I overcome persistent worries?
A: If you wrote out all of your day-to-day concerns, what would be on your list?
If yours are anything like mine, there are two main categories where most concerns fall:
1. “What-ifs.” These are all of my dreams, anxieties, thoughts about the future, and “what-ifs” that pack themselves in my brain like a loud, crowded party (except a lot less fun).
2. “To-dos.” This list includes everything that I know, perceive, or imagine is required of me. These “to-dos” scamper around my brain like dust bunnies, hard to catch and wildly pervasive, reminding me that nothing is as neat and tidy as I wish it was.
On a good day, I live above the what-ifs and the to-dos, seeing them as details, not dictators of my life. But on not-so-good and downright difficult days, these concerns distract me from the present and steal away my joy. And when one bad day turns into a few bad weeks or even months, I find that this list of troubles becomes a breeding ground for doubt in God’s provision and faithfulness.
It’s never a life-changing earthquake that shakes my trust. It’s the slow-going erosion of a life where concerns crowd out my active trust in God. God becomes a shadowy, disinterested figure, and I become a shallow, anxious person.
The Issue of Trust
What I’m realizing is that trust is at the root of the problem here. I deceive myself into thinking that God doesn’t care about my future and my to-do lists—that these minor concerns are no concern of his. But Jesus actually says otherwise.1