Worry is more than a momentary thought about an issue of concern.
Worry is an emotional state that is a response to a perceived existential threat.
We typically do not worry about our car breaking down. What we do worry about is how the car breaking down may affect our ability to get to work, to earn a livelihood so that we can secure food, clothing or shelter. So in this example, the real worry is not about the car but the underlying perceived threat to our physical well-being.
There are a number of aspects to our well-being besides physical, such as emotional and social. As such, there are a seemingly limitless combination of things we can worry about. But, whatever aspect of our well-being is giving rise to unrest and anxiety in our lives, Jesus has a prescription.
I, for one, have been wrestling with my sense of self worth. We live under a constant barrage of messages that aim to assess and ascribe our value. The use of terms such as “net worth” and the practice of placing value on human lives based on how much stuff they’ve been able to amass or how many people the are able to control is the cornerstone of our culture. I therefore find myself assessing my own value based on such trivial things as how much money I make, how may followers I have or how much engagement I have on a social media post.
Sure it would feel good to shed ourselves of these measures of value, but we live in the real word and value is a real thing, so can something have worth if others do not value it?
Absolutely. We know that even apart from the wisdom of scripture. How many songs do we have about things and people we didn’t appreciate until they’re gone?
But, Jesus reveals a higher truth. He says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…” (Matthew 6:28). God’s creation blooms and blossoms, they give their fruit in season without the slightest care about your acknowledgment or approval.
Now imagine how duplicitous a thing would be if its characteristics were to change based on who’s watching or how many approve. What if that thing were basing its actions on how much applause it would get? This is the way of the world and is fertile soil for double-mindedness and hypocrisy.
As for the lilies of the field -God’s creation, it matters not whether you appreciate them or enjoy their fruit. It simply does what it is in obedience to its creator.
Therefore, my prayer is,
“Lord, help me to be like the lilies of Your field, a tree in Your garden, a branch of Your Vine -Your creation. Help me to bear fruit according to the incorruptible seed, the image of Your Son -the implanted Word. Help me to do the good I was created to do regardless if anyone notices.
Jesus concluded His exhortation about how we should handle worry with an affirmation: if God shows such care for the grass of the field and the birds of the air, what does that mean about you? You are beautiful, even more so than a lily arrayed finer than the richest man in the world. You are valuable, even more so than many birds. You are of great value to God. (Luke 12:7)
The key to overcoming worry and securing our peace is opting out of the world’s value system and taking up God’s (seeking His approach and government i.e. ‘the kingdom of God’ Matthew 6:33). Rather than “net worth”, Jesus must be the chief cornerstone in our lives upon which all value and truth are built.
The truth is: you and I are valuable whether anyone sees us or not. In fact, you are most you when you believe no one sees. So, I say to my soul and yours: Whether seen or unseen let us be what God created: blessings; loving caretakers of creation and our fellow man (Ephesians 2:10). Our life and value in Christ are secure. There is no need to worry.