Does your heart ever grow troubled? What types of things lead to those troubles? The future? Decisions? Children? Security? Jesus spoke on fear, anxiety and discouragement quite frequently. His basic logic was: God is sovereign and in control, so do not worry. It sounds so simple, yet the vast majority of us still get worried (or concerned) when we find ourselves in transition or need (or want).
Perhaps the most dynamic command to not fear or worry is this command and promise:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”
– John 14.1-4
Fighting sin always begins in the mind. We have to understand what God defines as sin and submit to His Truth. Once we recognize what sin is and see it in our lives, we have to confess our sin and begin the process of repenting from it – by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are tempted or long to engage in whatever sin is before us, we can and must make a conscious decision to not sin. Our emotions will be torn, but our minds are our strength. After we successfully refuse the sin or temptation a few times, our emotions will catch up to the decision that we are making. Thus we always begin by the “renewing of our minds” (Rom 12.1-2).
It is good discipline to intentionally claim promises of Scripture and to replace sin with a God-honoring activity when we are feeling tempted. This keeps us from dwelling on the pleasures of sin or the immediate gratification we might seek. Jesus regularly offered promises and hope along with His instruction to help us along this path. For instance, “Do not let your heart be troubled” – don’t worry, don’t fret, don’t be anxious. Instead, remember that we have an eternal home in God’s house and Jesus has prepared the way for us to get there. He is, indeed, the way. He utilized the same tactic when confronting fears and anxieties about our daily needs:
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!”
– Matt 6.25-30
Jesus uses logic to confront fear and anxiety. Have you ever been concerned about what you will eat? Or not having clothing? And I don’t mean having that dream where you are giving a speech naked. We truly want for very little, but Jesus promises that God – who feeds the birds and clothes the fields with flowers will feed and clothe us as well. He loves us and will provide for us in the ways He deems best.
What is so interesting about the first command and promise, however, is the fact that Jesus gave this command to not fear during the last supper. He had already washed the disciples’ feet, He has already sent Judas out to betray Him, He has already predicted Peter’s betrayal and yet while explaining His death and departure He seeks to comfort the disciples. This command/promise is actually a continual flow of thought from Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s betrayal:
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times. Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me…”
There is no break here. Jesus is saying, I’m getting ready to die. Peter says, I want to go wherever you go – I would die for you, and Jesus responds, you won’t even make it through tonight without denying me. But don’t worry about it, I’ve got your eternity secure with God, just keep believing in God and in Me.
Jesus is just hours away from betrayal and the cross. In fact, twenty four hours from this very conversation Jesus will be dead – and He knows it – and He is busy comforting the disciples about what is to come. We see earlier in the chapter that Jesus’ heart was already troubled and in distress because of the coming events, not that He was stressed or worried in the way we get worried, but because He was dreading what was to come (John 13.21). We can walk in faith and not desire to have to walk through what we are experiencing, as long as we claim the promises and obey throughout the trial. Jesus obeyed and submitted to the plan of the cross even though He did not want to die on the cross and be separated from God. He Himself claimed the promises and looked to the end goal when His heart was tempted and hurting.
We must do the same. Look to the promises. Are you worrying about the future or eternity? Jesus has prepared the way for us to spend eternity with God through His death and resurrection. He has prepared a place for us to live in eternity with God. Are you worrying about what you will eat or wear? God knows our needs and will provide for us, in the manner He deems best. This may mean that we go hungry at times, or that we do not get designer clothing, but it will all work out to our best and to God’s glory (Rom 8.28). But let us fight those fleshly worries in our minds, and let us also follow the example of Jesus who, even though His own heart was troubled, comforted those around Him.
Here is a great fighter verse for those moments when you are afraid, worried or hurting. Use this, along with any others you already have to continually transform your mind while you walk in obedience and give our hearts time to catch up.
“When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?”
– Ps 56.3-4