I’ve been considering Jesus’ words about worry and anxiety in Luke 12:22-31 this week as I prepare to preach.
Anxiety is certainly a modern day concern. I had that confirmed as I read this headline in today’s newspaper: ‘Coping classes’ for high-anxiety children.
The article quoted a psychologist who noted that many children were ‘catastrophising’ because parents solve all their problems without teaching them the life skills to manage ‘stresses and challenges’.
“Kids rely on adults around them to show them the rules of life, and one of them is to be the boss of your own anxiety.”
There was particular concern about so-called ‘helicopter parents’: ‘Mum and dad need take a step back and help children become more resilient – prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.’ (The Australian, 9 Feb 2023.)
I’m glad to see steps being made to help with this issue, but I know that the real starting point is to listen to the words of Jesus who gives us real wisdom about life. So in Luke 12 we read:
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small at thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26).
Kent Hughes comments on these verses:
“In truth, worry shortens life and desolates what is left. Kierkegaard said, ‘No Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as anxiety.’
Worriers feel every blow
That never falls
And they cry over things
They will never lose.
Worriers fear, worriers suffer, worriers wither and twist and die. Worry takes a terrile toll, and we see it every day – the stammer in midsentence, the distractedness, the missed appointment, the wasted hour in front of the television, the second pack of cigarettes. Worry is not a moral virtue in a disciple of Christ. Worry is not something to be proud of. It is a desiccator, a shriveler.” (Hughes, Luke, 485.)
In Luke 12, Jesus’ instruction goes on to speak of God as our Heavenly Father who knows what we need. For both children and adults there is the real key to dealing with our anxiety about life – knowing God as Father.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your FAther’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32).