Never being one to worry much about the future, I had not considered anxiety to be an ingredient of grief before being asked to speak on Matthew 6:25-34, “Do not worry about tomorrow”, at a funeral recently.
When someone close to us dies, someone we loved and still love, we experience a concoction of emotions which someone unhelpfully called grief. Grief can be a mixture of loss, despair, anger, guilt, shame, broken-heartedness and anxiety. And everyone who grieves experiences some or all of these emotions to a greater or lesser extent. I’ve written on first of these emotions in the good grieving guide parts 1, 2 and 3.
In Matthew 6, Jesus deals with our sense of anxiety. It is easy, so easy to be anxious at the time of the death of a loved one. The cause of their death can cause anxiety for us. Where an illness has a genetic link, like some cancers or coronary diseases, children of the deceased can be concerned about their own health and mortality. Sudden accidents can make us anxious about putting ourselves in similar situations, like flying or even driving. It is not selfish to think about ourselves at this time, it’s only natural. And so, the death of a loved one can be a time of anxiety about our own mortality.
It can also be a time of anxiety for the adjustments which must be made in life. “How will I cope without mum?”, “What are we going to do without her?” or “life will never be the same again.”
Jesus speaks directly into our situation. His words are words of assurance for believers. As Jesus assures his followers they know they need not worry. Jesus says “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.”
Not worrying is easier said than done, why shouldn’t we worry? Because, says Jesus, God is in control and knows what he is doing. Look at how the birds live, look at how beautiful the flowers are. God feeds them and makes them beautiful, they all live and die, and God will do much more for you, because you are much worth more to him. God looks after his creation, and especially people.
And so Jesus teaches his followers that if they are anxious, this is a symptom of a lack of faith. He asks them, “will God not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” And so if you find today that this is a day of anxiety, worry about the future and anxiety and concern about your own mortality then listen again to some of the most comforting words of the Lord Jesus:
“seek first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow
Seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness leads people to find the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. Through faith in him the Apostle Paul asks “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32). Through faith in Christ as Saviour from sin and as the way to eternal life, anxiety ceases as nothing can happen which will take away what he has secured for those who love him.