Madison Church

How Do I Deal With Anxiety? | Searching For Answers (Part 5) | Jason Webb

May 17, 2023 Jason Webb
Madison Church
How Do I Deal With Anxiety? | Searching For Answers (Part 5) | Jason Webb
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Does worry and anxiety seem to consume you, even when life is good? Discover how Jesus' wisdom in Luke 12 can help you overcome these feelings and live a more peaceful life. In the first part of this episode, we explore why worry and anxiety grip us so tightly and how Jesus' teachings can provide relief. We discuss how the worries we carry can crush us if we let them, and how reflecting on Jesus' words can help us battle worry in our personal lives.

As we continue, we delve into the impact that worries and anxieties have on our relationships and our tendency to self-medicate as a coping mechanism. We also examine how a short-term perspective and overestimation of our own power feed into our anxiety. But fear not! Jesus offers us something more significant to live for – his kingdom, which is much bigger than our worries. Join us on a journey of faith as we learn how to seek and accept this life-changing gift.
Support the show
Speaker 1:

A man sits alone in his office. It's been a good year, actually, no, it's been a great year. He's risen to the top of his company far quicker than he ever thought he would. People say he's the golden boy of the company. He's next in line to be the CEO. His bank account would tell it that he's making far more than he ever could imagine he would make at this young age. And yet here he is sitting in his office alone. Far after dinner. He had to call his wife yet again saying he would be late, that it's just a season. But he's wondering if it really is just a season. The pressure he feels to keep performing, to keep climbing, is immense, and it's not necessarily the pressure other people put on him, it's the pressure he feels himself. What if I can't live up to my expectations? What if I don't make it? He feels this weight. It's almost an indescribable feeling, this just weight that's on his shoulders to keep doing more, to keep doing better. He's weighed down by worry. A mom lays in bed at night just staring at the ceiling. She knows she should be asleep, but how can she sleep when her kids haven't contacted her? You see, when her kids went off to UWS and she was promised by them that every day they would text her before they went to bed. Now her son, who's the junior, he's kind of the responsible one, and so he texts exactly at 10 o'clock every night saying hey, mom going to bed. Now she wonders if he has it on some sort of auto send. But it's fine, at least she gets a message from her. But her daughter, the freshman, the creative one, well, she doesn't always text And she worries. She wonders what is she doing? Is she okay? Why hasn't she sent a message? Is she out doing? she's a free spirit, is she getting into trouble? And she lies awake, wondering what to do, staring at the ceiling, drowning in a sea of worry. A once financially secure man stares at his credit card that lost an worry. A couple entering retirement, not knowing what to do, not that they have all this free time. A woman at the height of her career stares at a doctor blankly as he utters the word it's cancer. A young couple wonders if they will ever have kids. A divorced woman wonders if she'll ever find love again. A student lays in bed, wondering if he'll figure out why he feels this way. Why is he in this funk, all these people lost in deep, deep worry. Today we're continuing our series called Searching for Answers, and the one thing that most of us don't know what to do with, but all of us in some way, big or small, struggle with, is this issue of anxiety or worry, and Jesus knows this. In fact, jesus tackles this subject head on in Luke 12, and he asks us this simple question, but this perplexing question Why do you worry? Because we worry, i worry. Just a couple of weeks ago, i was in bed, just paralyzed by so many issues in life, just frozen by worry. So what do we do with that? How do we handle it? Well, jesus has a lot to say on this subject. So let's look at Luke, chapter 12, beginning in 22. I'm going to read several verses, so just hang on. It's important that we read all of these. It says this Consider how the wildflowers grow. They don't labor or spend. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon and all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that's how God closed, the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you? you of little faith, don't set your heart on what you will eat or drink. Don't worry about it. The pagan world runs after those things and your father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. Don't be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, give to the poor, provide purposes for yourself that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys for your. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. You know, as we hear Jesus words about worry, there's a couple of things we need to consider, and the first thing is this it's kind of a warning at us, and it's this that the worries we carry will absolutely 100% crush us. They will crush us if we let them. This is why Jesus says again and again in this passage Do not worry, do not worry, do not worry. Now, jesus's audience had a lot to worry about. This is a group who, by and large, lived hand to mouth. Most of them were incredibly poor. They lived on less than a dollar a day. 95% of them, historians tell us, could not read or write Because of lack of good healthcare. Many were sick with no medicine. Plagues would sometimes come and kill off one third of an entire city. Most of them would not see past the age of 30. One historian describes it this way The smell of sweat, urine, feces and decay permeated everything Outside. On the street, it was little better mud, open sewers, manure and crowds. In fact, human corpses get that. Human corpses, adult as well as infant, were sometimes just pushed into the street and abandoned. And so when Jesus comes in and says, don't worry, they're like really, jesus, have you seen what we're dealing with? How can we possibly not worry? See, they had a big box of worries that they carried around. Maybe we could picture it this way. You see, in their box of worries were things like how much money do they have? In fact, jesus talks a lot about this and they didn't have much. They're kind of like me, in fact. My stepson, when he saw how much money I had up here, said really just $2? That's all I got. So that's kind of how they felt how much money they had, whether they would be able to clothe themselves. Apparently they dressed like Northern Wisconsiners clothe themselves or clothe their family. They worried about work or lack of work. You see, they were manual laborers, but they couldn't find work most of the time And, of course, since they lived in the conditions they did, they were concerned about their health and whether or not they would be healthy, whether the kids would be healthy. That one in their worry box. And while this passage doesn't talk about it directly, a little bit later in this chapter Jesus talks about the family and how much worries that that comes. And so their family went in there as well, and since they only are expected to live to the age of 30, they were worried about their future and how much time they had left. And so that one in their worry box as well. And so they just were carrying around, everywhere they went, this big box of worries, and the more they carried it, the heavier it got. And the more they carried it, the more they added to it. And Jesus just comes in and says why are you carrying that? How's that working out for you? You know, the reality is we're not really that different. My guess is that one or two of us in this room, in our box, have worries about money. Maybe we're in debt, maybe we're just kind of living close to the edge of debt. Inflation certainly doesn't help. We certainly have our family in there. And you know what about our kids? Why don't we have kids? What about the broken relationships in our family? Is our spouse going to keep loving us? Are we ever going to find a spouse? And certainly in there is our health. We don't know what to do with what the doctor said, or maybe it's the health of somebody we love. And of course, we're worried about our future. God, what am I supposed to do? God, this wasn't the dream, but I had a five-step plan that I was going to fulfill in my life and I only got to step one, and now it's all off course. God, what do you want me to do? Because this ain't it? And we carry around all these worries and soon we start to question ourselves I know I've been there Like is there something inherently wrong with me? God, look at all this mess. And the more we carry it, the heavier it becomes. Because that's what worries do? They get heavier and they grow and eventually they crush us. Worries don't start off that way. In fact, jesus talks about it several places. He says they actually just start off at what we call troubles, what he calls troubles, and that shouldn't be a surprise. In fact, in Matthew's version of the same teaching, jesus says this don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. And Jesus would say this in John in this world, guarantee 100%, don't be surprised by this, you will have troubles. But so often we forget that and we don't know what to do when troubles come our way. I remember when my daughter, jenny, was five and she was learning how to ride a bike And I remember one day she declared to me dad, it's time to take off the training wheels. I looked at her are you sure You ready for this? Because this is big time. Are you ready for training wheel, less riding? She said, yeah, dad, i'm ready. I said, okay, here's the deal, jenny. I know you can start off well, but inevitably there will come a point maybe half a block down where you're going to see a bump or somebody's going to walk down the sidewalk. Just keep pedaling. Troubles are going to come, but just keep pedaling. And she said, dad, i got this, don't worry about me. In fact, i'll move out tomorrow. I got this, i'm good. And she started off pedaling. I mean it was amazing. I mean she could be in the Tour de France. She was just pedaling and setting a world record for a five-year-old as her speed and grace on a bike And then, as I predicted, there was a bump and she didn't take my advice. She froze and she fell. Thankfully she had a helmet on, but she fell. And I said Jenny and she said what I said you forgot to keep pedaling. And she said I know, but it just seemed so scary. And that's what we do. Jesus says hey, troubles are going to come, it's just part of life. Keep pedaling. But when we don't, and when we freeze those troubles, well, they become bigger And we start staring at them and they start to overwhelm us. And that's when they become what Jesus says here a worry. And when they're a worry, we feel like we've lost total control. What happens if this thing doesn't change? What can I do to change it? Why isn't this situation changing? Why don't you even care anymore? And ultimately, the more we stare at it, it's not just a worry anymore, it's not just a trouble, there's that bigger one. You can't see it there, but it says fear. It becomes a fear. When it's a fear, we feel like we've lost all hope. When it's a fear. It paralyzes us. I think that's why Jesus, even in this passage, changes his words from worry to fear to, at the end He says don't be afraid, little flock. It's no surprise that the number one command in Scripture is this don't be afraid. But so many of us are, worries that we've carried around for so long now grow into fears and they just absolutely 100% crush us. They crush us in a variety of ways. They crush our bodies. They crush our bodies physically. I find it ironic that in verse 25, jesus says whoever you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life. Because here's the reality worry doesn't add hours to our lives. Worries actually, according to the doctors, take hours away from our lives. They cause headaches, ulcers, stomach aches, sleep deprivation, worrying stress adversely affect our heart, blood pressure, immune system. But I don't have to tell you this. We know that When I was deep in worry a few weeks ago, it's not a surprise that I caught a flu. I caught an infection. That happens all the time. That's why those of us who have struggled with depression in our lives know that oftentimes, when we're in a state of depression, all we want to do is sleep. Why? Because worry crushes our body. It crushes our immune system, it crushes our ability to function physically. That's why Proverbs says this an anxious heart weighs a man down. It crushes our bodies And, secondly, they crush our relationships. You see, since we can't control what is going on inside of us, those worries and anxiety, it comes out on the people closest to us. James writes about this. He says this what causes fights and quarrels among you? And his answer isn't because that person's a jerk. No, don't. They come from your desires. That battle within you. In other words, you have all this stuff that's all tangled up inside. You're worried about it, you can't figure it out, you can't control it. In that tension and that anxiety and sometimes that anger over it, it just comes out on the person closest to you, not because they've done anything wrong, but it's just because they're close to you. And that stuff that's within is always going to come out. That's why, when you're worried about work, you take it out on your kids or your spouse or your friends, not because they did anything wrong, but because they're just there, crush our relationships. They crush our character. See, worries and fears that won't go away often leave us feeling like we need to medicate ourselves And so soon we're overeating or drinking a little too much, or going to those websites or working beyond a level that's healthy, and ultimately they crush our dreams. Since we're living in a constant fear, we don't feel like we can take risks like we used to. We live in the fear of the what is, and our dreams become distant memories. So let me ask you what's in your box? Because we all have a box that we carry around. What's in yours? And I'm just going to say this as an aside that, yes, messages like this are important, but sometimes we need professional help to deal with our box. I've gone to therapy a lot of my life and continue to do so, for my own health And some of you. You just need to find a good counselor who can help you work through these things, because it's just hard. But what's in your box? But Jesus' original question still remains why do we worry? You know, i think at its roots, the reason we worry is our perspective has gotten out of whack. When we start to stare at our worries and to grow and grow, all sorts of things go out of focus. And so why do we worry? Well, first of all, we worry because our view of life is too short. That's too short. This is where Jesus begins, in verses 22 and 23, says don't worry about your life, what you'll eat, or about your body, what you'll wear, why? For life is more than food and the body more than clothes. In other words, jesus is saying the reason you are worrying so much is that your view of life is too short. You don't have an eternal perspective on it. And you see, when we don't have an internal perspective on our money or all we think about that, all we have in life are these things in this box, that life is only about the money we have, or about the relationships, making sure our family's happy and healthy, or about our work, when all we have in life are these things, of course the moment that they shake, of course the moment that we lose some of what's in there, of course we're going to spin into worry and even into despair. That's why Jesus says in verses 29 and 30 that when we operate that way, we're no different than the pagans, in other words, those who don't believe in God. He says this, for the pagan world runs after all such things, and that's what we do all the time. We chase after the things in our box and when we don't have them, whether or not what we thought they would look like we're lost. We don't know what to do. And Jesus says the reason you do that is that you're viewing life in a limited way. You have to start seeing it from an eternal perspective, that life is so much bigger than the things in your box. I think that's why, in verse 33, he says provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes and no moth destroys. See, one of the reasons we worry is our view of life is too short. One of the other reasons we worry is our view of ourselves is too high. We think too highly of ourselves. In other words, we assume we can control things that are actually beyond our control. Jesus talks about this in a very sarcastic way. In fact, one of the things I encourage you to do as you read the scriptures, read the stories of Jesus teaching us see where he's actually kind of funny. And here's a place where he's actually kind of funny. He says this who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? And if that wasn't sarcastic enough, he says since you can't do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? I mean, i love this. Think about it. If somebody had an ability to add an hour to the day, we would think that they are the most powerful person in the universe. And Jesus is saying that's nothing compared to what I can do, that's just a little thing. It says that if he's saying you're not God, you think you are, you try to be, but you're not, you can't even do the things that I can do with my hands tied behind my back. Maybe we could picture it this way. I don't know how many of you would like to bowl, but I enjoy bowling, but it's fascinating. I enjoy bowling not so much bowling myself but watching other people bowl. And the funny thing about bowling is everybody lines up, they have their bowling ball and they do whatever they do to get it just right And they bring it back and then they let it go. And you would think at that point that they would just go back and sit down and see what happens. But they don't. They stand there at the edge of the lane and they start to do weird motions. If they want it to go left, they start to lean to the left. If they want it to go right, they start to lean to the right. I've even seen some people hop as if to make it go that way. Some people will move their hands and some people I've even seen will blow as if that's going to help. I mean, do you ever think that a bowling ball halfway down the alley thinks to myself, you know what? because that idiot back there is blowing, i think I'll go to the right for them? No, but that's what Jesus is saying. We do in life. You do the best you can with your kids and you let them go, but we stay back in our house. Please do this, do this, do that. We have no control, but we do the best we can at work and we let it go. It's in our boss's hands, but we stay up at night leaning this way, saying turn left, turn left, pick me, pick me. And Jesus just comes and says what are you doing? You're not God. Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? Who of you, by worrying, can change the diagnosis? Who of you, by worrying, can make her say yes? Who of you, by worrying, can make him change? Who of you, by worrying, can get your kids to talk to you again? Who of you, by worrying, can be God. You see, oftentimes we worry because our view of ourselves is too high, but interestingly, sometimes we worry for just the opposite reason Our view of ourselves is too low, our view of ourselves is too low. In other words, we don't feel like we're worth God's time. He helps other people, not us. We're lost cause. We messed up too much. We're not important enough. Nothing will ever change, never has, never will. We're not worth his time. That's why Jesus uses the examples he does in this passage. He first says verse 24, amazing. He says consider the ravens. They don't sow or reap, they have no store room or barn. Yeah, god feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds. Now, that's fascinating enough, but it's even more fascinating when you understand what ravens were in the Jewish culture. See, the Jewish people weren't even allowed to touch ravens. They were considered the most unclean bird possible. And so what Jesus is saying is the bird you won't even touch, i take care of, the bird that's considered in the culture unclean I provide for. And if I do that for that bird, how much more am I going to do that for you, who is the crown of my creation for you, who scripture says is the apple of my eye for you, who is made in my image? How much more am I going to take care of you? And then he goes on to wildflowers in verse 27 and talks about how they are addressed to the finest detail by God. And he says this in verse 28,. If that is how God closed, the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, you of little faith? The grass and flowers He was talking about would actually be used by His audience to put into their clay ovens for fire. And He's just saying the grass, we just burn that stuff, but I take care of it. You live forever. How much more am I going to take care of you? And yet sometimes we think God doesn't. We think, because other people have told us we're worthless, that God thinks we're worthless. We think that, because other people have said that we're a lost cause, that God thinks we're a lost cause, and I think that, because we made that mistake, that we are a mistake, and so we worry. But ultimately, the reason we worry the most is whether our view of ourselves is too high or our view of ourselves is too low. Either way, it leads us to this conclusion that our view of God is too small. Maybe we could picture it this way and we could get up the graphic on the screen. You'll see here that when my view of myself at the top is too big, but I don't view God properly, i think God can't do what I need him to do. He's not powerful enough. And when I don't think he can, i just try to grab control of things that I can't control. But ultimately that leaves to worry. But the same thing happens when our view of ourselves is too small because I think God won't. Yeah, he's powerful enough, but I don't see him properly, so I don't think he will actually help me. And when I don't think he will, i just go around playing the victim in life, like nobody wants to help me. Of course things are going to be messed up, because that's my story. Either way it leads to worry. Either he can't and I try to grab control, or he won't and I play the victim. It ends up in worry. Let me ask you why do you worry? Is it because your view of your life is too short, or your view of yourself is too high or too low, or is it ultimately because your God has become too small? Well, that's all the bad news. What's the good news? How do we get out of worry? Well, the key is this to remember how good your heavenly Father is. Remember how good your heavenly Father is. I love being a dad and a stepdad, and one of the things I love to do with my stepson, exxon, who's here and I probably didn't realize I was going to talk about him is I love to put him in a lock in my legs and tell him that he needs to have a password to get out, and the password is this dad is awesome because I'm a bit ego-tistical, so if he says those words, then I'll let him out, and while that may make us smile a little bit, this is kind of what Jesus is getting out here. It's like how do you get out of worry? Well, you just realize your heavenly Father is awesome. In other words, he's saying you know why you can handle the things that cause you to worry, because your heavenly Father is awesome, because your heavenly Father is so unbelievably, indescribably good. And you see, we think this passage is about us. It's not. It's about our heavenly Father, and Jesus wants us to know that the only way out of worry is to stop looking at these things that are in your box. Get your head out of the box and start looking at your heavenly Father, who has been there all along, walking with you, crying with you and leading you. So your good Father knows what you need. He knows what you need. If we didn't get this by now, he says this verse 30, for the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. And actually that term for Father is Abba, which is translated Daddy. It says, if Jesus is saying, you don't have to be frightened, you don't have to be worried because your Daddy is here, seek him. He knows what you need. He's going to provide what you need. Now. It doesn't mean we're passive and say, okay, god, you do all the work. No one of the ways he provides this for us is giving us guidance on how to wisely handle our finances or how we should engage in relationships, or how do we should think about work and health in the future, but he promises not to let us hang out to dry. So let me ask you when it comes to the things in your box, are you just staring at them, not knowing what to do? Jesus says get your head out of the box and start looking at your heavenly Father. He's been right there all along and he knows what you need. The second thing about your good Father is that he gives you something bigger to live for. He gives you something bigger. See, when Jesus talks about our heavenly Father, he says seek his kingdom. He wasn't just talking about going to heaven one day. No, he was talking about living for something bigger than the things in your box. See, life, he says, is not about you. It's a story that God began at the beginning of creation and he's invited you into. It's a story that's so much bigger than these little things that are in your box. It's a story of communities being changed, of wrongs being made right, of relationships being restored. But the only way you will ever be able to be a part of that kingdom is if you stop looking at your little kingdom in here and start looking at his kingdom and saying God, okay, this wears me out anyway, would you help me get my head out of the box, because this, this doesn't deliver. I mean, i hope you have lots of money. You think you can take me out to dinner. I hope your family's great. I really do. I hope you have a great future and that your seven point plan for life works out the way you thought it would. I hope you have a job where you get promoted every six months. But even if you get all that, it's not what you were made for. You were made to be a part of a kingdom. It started from the beginning of time and expands all into eternity. You were made to help change this community, the people that are around you, in a much bigger way than just giving them a few bucks, in a way where your life rubs up against them and they say I don't know what you have, but I want it. You were made to live far beyond your own issues to bring hope and healing and peace and compassion to a world that desperately needs it. You're made to be a part of his kingdom, and that's why Jesus says this in verse 32, Do not be afraid, little flock, for your father has been pleased to give you the kingdom, and so today he is offering you this kingdom. He's saying will you take it? It's my present to you. It just takes a step of faith, just takes a step of saying, yes, i will follow and I will do that. But if you're ever going to take that kingdom, if you're ever going to take that gift, jesus says you first have to give him this Because this is too heavy for you. And so will you give that to him And take the gift he has waiting for you.

Overcoming Anxiety and Worry With Jesus
Why We Worry
Living for Something Bigger