Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6 : 26 – 27
I have to confess to being a worrier. I have the well-bitten nails to prove it! Like many people I am prone to having anxious thoughts and sometimes can lose myself in worries.
But no matter how hard we worry it cannot add a single hour to our lives. On the contrary, it’s been found that spending too long in elevated levels of stress is very bad for our health, and can even shorten your life. So Jesus’s advice to worry less has some very practical health implications.
So how do we worry less? Well here we can take a lesson from the birds. As Jesus observes, birds have to live in the present. They can’t make long term plans like plant field or storing food. Instead they live in the moment and have to accept whatever comes. Humans on the other hand are very different. We have good memories and an ability to plan ahead. However this gift is also the source of our worry: we fret about things that have happened and we stress about what things might come next. Anxiety forces us to fixate on past regrets and our future fears.
I think what many of us anxious people need is to learn how to be in the present. To accept where we are and to trust that whatever comes, God is in control. For me when my anxiety starts to get to much, I take a moment to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply and say to myself the line from Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God”. That helps me to clear my worries and return to the present moment.
Prayer: Loving God, quiet my worries and allow me to be still in your presence.
Act: Take a minute of silent prayer. Imagine breathing in God’s grace, and breathing out fear. Allow yourself a moment of stillness during your day.