Commentary by Walter Albritton


January 27, 2008


Trusting God Frees Us from Unnecessary Fear and Anxiety


Luke 12:22-34


Key Verse: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. – Luke 12:22


Stress almost killed me in my mid-forties. One morning I passed out from loss of blood. An ulcer had caused internal bleeding. But the frightening ride to the hospital in an ambulance was not as shocking as the doctor’s diagnosis.

After explaining that my problem was a tiny stomach ulcer, the doctor said compassionately, “Surgery will not be necessary. We can stop the bleeding with medication.” Relieved and thankful, I asked what causes ulcers.

I wished I had not asked. The doctor replied, “We are pretty sure that stress causes many ulcers. It may be that you are not handling your stress very well. I have asked one of our counselors to talk with you this afternoon.”

That was the day I learned that anxiety can kill you. It was also the day I began asking for the grace to learn to trust God in a new way. Confession was necessary. Tearfully I confessed that all my life I had been trusting far too much in myself and not enough in God. Thankfully my confession led to new joy and a profoundly new relationship with God.

After a week’s stay in the hospital, and two weeks out of my pulpit, I chose as my text the scripture for this Sunday’s lesson. I preached on Jesus’ words, “Do not worry,” admitting that after 44 years I had a lot to learn about how to trust God and not worry.

Since then I have made progress but I still have a way to go. Wholly trusting God in all things is not easy. Like the common cold, anxiety keeps hanging around, waiting for an opening into my mind. It helps to remind myself that anxiety is a killer and worry is a sin. “Do not worry” means just that – do not worry, and if I obey Christ, I will not worry.

In our scripture lesson Jesus has just told the story of the Rich Man and his barns. The rich man’s problem was not worry but greed. He wanted more and more to store in bigger and bigger barns. But abruptly his life ended just as he realized he had been a fool.

Jesus used the man’s covetousness to teach the disciples that they should not worry about food and clothing. The meaning of life is not found in these material things. As the rich man was a fool to wish for bigger barns, so are we foolish to spend time worrying about food, drink, or clothing.

Instead we should learn from the birds and the flowers to trust God rather than worry. God feeds the birds and without worrying they enjoy his gracious provision. Flowers do not strive for beauty but simply allow God to make them beautiful.

We are children of the Father. He knows what we need and delights in meeting our needs. He provides for us because he loves us so we should strive to please him instead of seeking material things. As we learn to trust God as our Source of all things needful, we are able to relax in his love and enjoy being his children.

It is a wonderful thing to stop all our wheels from turning and sit for a spell outdoors where we can enjoy the birds and beautiful flowers. Whenever I do this, I remember that I am not the center of the world. I thank God that I am alive and that he loves me just like I am. In such quiet moments God reminds me that he does not need my help to manage the universe. Such reflection clears my perspective and helps me re-focus my energy in trusting God rather than fretting about things over which I have no control.

As Bishop N. T. Wright says so well, “The kingdom of God is, at its heart, about God’s sovereignty sweeping the world with love and power, so that human beings, each made in God’s image and each one loved dearly, may relax in the knowledge that God is in control.” My heart says Amen!

 Any day becomes brighter when we repeat and believe these words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Believe it: your Father wants to give you gifts, the best gifts, the ones you need the most, especially the gift of faith. Do not be bashful. Ask your Father for his good gifts – and you’ve got them! 

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