Fear is faith’s adversary. Fear makes us see the world as a dangerous place, shrouded in darkness and stalked by death. So, we build thick walls around our hearts and high-fences around our loved ones. To protect ourselves from hurt, we push aside adventure. To minimize risk, we shrink our world. To insulate ourselves from pain, we isolate ourselves from love. We play it safe, so safe that life becomes stale, dull, and empty.
Anxiety keeps us on edge, uneasy, and restless. It makes our heads throb and our breath shallow. It makes us feel like something’s wrong but we aren’t sure what, it’s an itch we can’t scratch, and a problem we can’t name, much less solve. It’s the sense that a storm is brewing, even though there isn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s the feeling that the world’s going to fall apart—at least our little corner of it–unless we remain on high alert.
Worry is our way of trying to control those things and people over which we actually have no control at all. If we can’ solve a problem, we can at least surround it without our fretting and corral it with our fussing. If we can’t make people do what we’re sure they need to do, at least we can warn them constantly about how wrong they are. We can caution them again after each misguided step they take. We can show them the previews of the disaster they’re headed for—previews we’re watching over and over again. .
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus invited us to live with peace, confidence, and trust rather than fear, anxiety and worry: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today”
Instead of worrying, Jesus said, look again at wonders of life teeming, growing and blooming all around you. “Consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.” We live in God’s vast, intricate, bountiful and beautiful world; but, we blind ourselves to it, and to the generous God whose life and love course through it, by narrowing our gaze to the tight confines of our little lives and our immediate concerns.
So, Jesus said: Open your eyes. Broaden your vision. Deepen your awareness. Get outside, and see the vast world God has made. Nature doesn’t worry: flowers don’t fret and birds aren’t weighed down by fear. They do what they are made to do. They bloom and they fly; and they live the life God gave them to live. Get outside your pride that you are self-made and your fear that you must be self-sufficient. Get beyond the illusion that your life is in your hands and that it is all up to you. Your life is a gift that God gave you, a gift God wants you to enjoy and will certainly sustain.
To jostle us into awareness of God’s love for us, he asks: “Aren’t you more valuable than the bird of the air and the flowers of the field?” Jesus asks us. “Of course we are,” is the answer Jesus wants to trust. Because God loves you, Jesus says, “Do not worry; God knows what you need.”