Day 1 of 7
“Do not be anxious” (Matthew 6:34). – Jesus Christ
The next 7 days will be as hard or as easy as you would like them to be. The interesting thing about counseling is that it can be deep and challenging, or shallow and smooth. So much of it depends on how badly you would like to see the change. It is going to be determined by how anxious and troubled you really are. How heavy is the Holy Spirit weighing on you to change? This is not going to be a simple “read and reflect,” but rather more of a study of how God can help with your anxiety. It will be predicated on some self-exploration that may force you to be a little uncomfortable. These uncomfortable moments should be brought into the light of Scripture, with a specific focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Outside of this, there is no other real or lasting change.
The best change happens when you have an understanding of the process. Think for a minute about our quotation at the top of this study. When Jesus Christ said, “Do not be anxious,” there had to be more to it than just that, right? That was not His whole message; it was not a 5-second, one-statement talk about how to not be worried or bothered. Take a moment right now and read these verses:
Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV): “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”
What is our Savior trying to get across to the people listening to His Sermon on the Mount? Think about these verses carefully. If it were as easy as just “stop being anxious,” then He would not have gone on to describe food, drink, clothes, birds, and flowers. There is a process to overcoming anxiety, and we will explore that in this 7-day study. Also, I would suggest this is more of an invitation than a command. There are differing views, but for the sake of the one who is struggling through anxiety, the idea of this being a command can sometimes be detrimental. For example, consider Mark Driscoll’s illustration referring to “fear not”.
Trust the process:
Step 1: In order to “stop being anxious,” we need to understand what our anxieties/worries/stresses are. At least 4 specific things are described in verses 25-34 above. See if you can find them. Specific examples like these will be discussed in day 2 of the study.
Step 2: Make the decision to stop worrying and immediately replace worries with Scripture and prayer. What does verse 33 tell us to do instead of worrying?
But seek first __________________________________________________________________
Step 3: Strengthen this practice and repeat as needed with the tools provided in God’s Word.
For today’s study, we simply want to reflect on the words of Jesus Christ (above) and understand this 3-step process. Tomorrow, we will begin with step one.
Disclaimer: This is not a substitute for actual counseling. If you are in need of help, please seek out a competent Christian counselor in your area. The elders in your church should be able to suggest counselors to you if you are in need of recommendations.
Disclosure: I am an LPC provider in Michigan with a Master’s degree in Counseling. I work mostly with teenagers and adolescents, but also with individuals from all walks of life. I always strive to use Scriptural principles to guide the counseling process.