Worrying, especially excessively, can produce major negative effects. Studies have shown that excessive worry can lead to less restful sleep, weakening of the immune system, digestive problems, and even heart attacks. Worriers also report greater problems in their relationships with others.
Beyond such physical and social impacts, worry can also be spiritually damaging. The very nature of worry involves obsessing over uncertain things: “‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (6:31). Am I smart enough for this job? Will I make friends in this new community? What will I do with my life?
Taking measures to answer such questions is not a problem. For instance, planting crops for food is a repeated theme in Jesus’ parables. But to worry about and thus to obsess over such matters leads to many problems.
Above all, worry diverts our attention from where it should be—the kingdom of God. Jesus teaches us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (6:33). Why would we turn away from that glorious kingdom to worry about problems that may never develop? Winston Churchill once recalled the story of an old man who said that “he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” Or why would we turn away from God’s kingdom to obsess over things we cannot control? Thus, Jesus asks, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (6:27).
We can focus on the kingdom of God only if we stand on the bedrock of trust in God. We must recognize that our loving Father in heaven knows what we need, and He will “give good gifts to those who ask him” (7:11). May we have such faith.
What situations or problems worry you? Reflecting on these, what steps can you take to resolve them in a way that advances the kingdom of God? What good things do you hope might come out of these situations or problems? Ask God to bring those good gifts, and pray that God would help you to seek His kingdom above all else.