So we are going to take a break for a couple weeks from the sermon series that we have been doing where have been learning about who God and who we are in the book of Genesis. We will return to this series soon. However, with so much going on in the world today, it seemed appropriate for us to pivot our studies in Overflow and in Genesis so that we can talk about anxiety. We are crushed with worry right now with the coronavirus. There is no break in the news about this virus. Life has been completely changed. Many are not working. Schools and restaurants are closed. Everywhere we look is fear. I did not know that I could wish for all the political memes and rants to come back to by Facebook feed. But everyone now posts what they know as if they have secret information about this virus that no one else has. The whole country is being driven by fear. What is a Christian to do during these times? How are we to handle our anxieties and fears? We will talk about how to handle our worries over the next few weeks, Lord willing.
Who Is Your God? (Mark 4:35-41)
Turn in your copies of God’s word to Mark 4:35-41. Jesus and his disciples have entered a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly, a great windstorm arose and the waves were breaking over the boat. The waves are so great that the waves are breaking into the boat. Their boat is filling with water. But something shocking is happening. Jesus is asleep while the boat rises and falls with the waves and as the water splashes into the boat. Look at what the disciples say to Jesus in verse 38. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” This is our cry when we are afraid and filled with worry. God, don’t you care? Don’t you know what is going on? Do you not care that we could die?
Now we need to think about this question for a moment. Think about what the disciples are asking. Think about what we are asking when we are afraid. Does Jesus care about you? Truly think about this. Does Jesus care about you? I hope that no matter what we are going through we would realize that the answer is yes. Yes, Jesus cares for you. Jesus cares about you. Jesus cares what you are going through. Jesus cares about your life.
But look at what Jesus does. Jesus speaks and the wind stops and the sea calms. What did Jesus just show his disciples? Jesus showed that he has absolutely control over this earth. There is nothing outside of his power. Jesus is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Think about this for a moment. Is there something that Jesus cannot do? Is there something to difficult for Jesus? Is there a request that he cannot answer? Is there something we can ask God to do that is outside of his skill set? This is what Jesus is showing at this moment.
This is why Jesus says what he says next. Jesus asks, “Why are you so afraid?” This is God’s question to his people. Why are you so afraid? Now think about how the disciples could have answered this question. The answer is obvious. The boat nearly sank and we almost drowned. That is why we are so afraid! We were in danger! That is why we were afraid! What a silly question! But it is not a silly question if you understand who Jesus is and that he cares for you. This is the calm that we need. Does Jesus care for you? Yes. Does Jesus have control over the affairs of the earth? Yes. So why are you so afraid?
Jesus continues in verse 40. “Have you still no faith?” In Luke’s account, Jesus asks, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:22-25). Do you see what Jesus is showing us? Let me break this down for a moment. Fear comes from a lack of control. When we do not have control, we fear. This is why we see the hoarding that is going on right now. People are realizing that they do not have control. Now, friends, did we not already know this because God has taught it again and again? We liked to think that we had control. But we know that we do not have any control. This hurts when see control slip from our hands. I hurt when I lost my friends Josh and Erin in the tornado in Cookeville a few weeks ago. We like to think that we have the control to go to bed and wake up the next day. We forget that our life is just a vapor and it is time like a virus that reminds that we have zero control. Our lack of control is what generates our fear.
So you see what Jesus is asking. Where is your faith? You never had control. So why are you not trusting me? If you believe that Jesus cares and you believe that Jesus has control and we do not, then where is your faith? Faith will not panic but turn our fear over to him. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 6:24-34.
Fighting Anxiety (Matthew 6:24-34)
This is a passage we know very well and can hold on to during hard times. The first word of verse 25 is “therefore.” This means we need to look back at the last verse which tells us that we cannot serve two masters. Either we serve God or we serve wealth. We cannot do both. The implication is this: if we serve God and understand that we cannot serve both, then here is the outcome.
Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, drink, your body, or what you will wear. We get to practice this right now, friends. Do not worry about what you are going to eat. Do not worry about what you are going to drink. Do not worry about your body. In short, do not worry about physical things. Now this is easy to say but difficult to do. So Jesus is going to tell us how we can do this. This is all about our perspective. It is all about what we focus on and think about. So if we are worrying and fearful, then we are thinking about the wrong things. How do we fight fear and anxiety?
First, know you are valuable to God (6:26, 28-30).
You need to know that you are valuable to God. We need to remind ourselves that God does care. God cares about what is happening to us. We know that we are valuable to God because he sent his only Son for us. The cross of Jesus reveals to us the depth of God’s love for us. You are valuable to God. God feeds the birds and they do not have refrigerators or a Costco. You are worth more than them to God. You were made in the image of God. You were made for relationship with God.
Second, your worry is worthless (6:27).
What does watching all of this virus news do for you? What does worrying about how more people are infected do for you? Can you change anything that is happening? There is only one person who can do anything about this and it is not us. Only God can change this. What will all of your fear and worry do? What will your worry change? It is strange how we spend so much time in fear and worry over things that we cannot change or control only to make ourselves feel even worse. Your worry is worthless.
Third, God knows what you need (6:31-32).
Did you know that God knows what you need? God cared for Israel throughout all of the journeys in the wilderness. God knew they needed water. God knew they needed food. God knew they needed shelter. Now God did not make that easy so that they would see how much they needed God. They went without water for awhile so that they would look to God for water. They went without food for awhile so that they would look to God for food. Friends, God knows what we need. God knows you need food. God knows you need toilet paper. Stop worrying because God knows what you need.
Fourth, seek God first (6:33).
The answer to fear is to seek God. Now is the time we need to be seeking God. We do not need to be turning away from God or ignoring God. Seek God first and he will take care of the rest. We are showing our lack of faith when we think that we have to take care of ourselves and fend for ourselves. God is telling each of us he will take care of you if you will seek him first. The reason we worry is because we do not believe that God will provide for us. Let us be honest about this. The reason we make decisions from fear and we worry is because we do not believe God will provide for us. God does not say he will provide for you if you trust yourself first, try to take care of yourself first, worry about your wealth first, and take care of you first. God says to seek him first and he will provide for us.
We are being given an opportunity to show our Lord that we trust him. We stand at a moment in time when we can really show God we love him above all else. We get the chance to show him that we love him and worship him when it is a time of uncertainty and fear. We get to show God that we believe he will take care of us today.
Finally, let tomorrow go (6:34).
Do not worry about tomorrow. Are you worried about tomorrow? Jesus says to stop that. God wants you to give tomorrow to him. God wants you to give next week to him. God wants you to give next month to him. God wants you give all of those future fears and future worries to him. God has given you today. Live today and let tomorrow go.
We can win over worry. But we need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we like to worry. We like the feeling of control. We like to think that have power. This is such an important moment that God has brought us to today. We need to ask ourselves two questions. What is God teaching? What will be my response? Right now, maybe God is teaching you that you have too much hope in this world. Maybe God is teaching you that you have an idol in your health. Maybe God is teaching you that you are not ready to meet the Lord one day. Maybe God is teaching you that you do not have control. Maybe God is teaching you that you do not trust him like you think you do. Maybe God is showing us that we are trying to serve him and wealth. What is God teaching us?
Now ask yourself how you will respond. How will you respond? Will this show us our gap in faith so that we quickly repent and trust our Lord again? Or will this gap only cause us to trust in ourselves even more? What is God teaching you? What will be your response?