One day last week, I woke up quite anxious, fretting about the day and sorta about my life in general. Naturally, I turned to the most popular passage about worry to glean some help from Jesus’ words. To my surprise, I found it not helpful at all. He totally missed the mark with what I was feeling. Here’s the passage:
Matthew 6:25-26, 31-32 … Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?… Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
When I read this last week, it struck me how unapplicable it seemed. If Jesus was aiming for my worry and my anxiety, he missed. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m worried about my life, it has nothing to do with what I will eat or drink or wear.
I know that in many parts of the world, people have to be regularly concerned with their daily needs just to get by, to be sustained at the simplest level. I, on the other hand, have never had to worry about having anything to eat or having water or clothes. Never. I’m fortunate in that respect, as are most of the people I know. Jesus is addressing a set of worries that I (and most of you) cannot relate to.
Or can we? …
Then it hit me. There’s more than one way to be hungry, thirsty, and naked.
I have never been without food… but I am always hungry.
I have never had to go without water… but I am always thirsty.
And I have never worried about having clothes to wear… but I am always worried about being covered.
What do I mean? I’m talking about what King David said when he pined in Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!”
Jesus wants to talk about our hunger, thirst, and nakedness. So let’s talk.
When I wake up each morning, I am not worried about where breakfast will come from or if I’ll have any water to drink. But when I wake up each morning, I am often asking myself questions like these:
Am I important to anyone? Am I worth anything? Does my life really matter? Will I ever be really, deeply happy? Does anyone really care? What do I have to do to feel at peace just for one day? When will I stop feeling empty? Why do I feel so alone?!
Do you ever find yourself asking questions anything like that? Do you ever feel that kind of hunger? Jesus has an answer.
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
We do not need to hunger or thirst for meaning or wholeness anymore. Jesus is our sustenance, our nourishment. He fills up our emptiness. He feeds our starving spirits and waters our dry, weary souls. He is the fountain of living water, and there is no substitute.
Do not worry about your spiritual fullness – your bread and water of the soul. You’re helpless to find spiritual satisfaction on your own, aren’t you? haven’t you tried every avenue you can think of already? Every sin that makes empty promises? Only God is able.
So “do not be anxious”, as Jesus said, because God will provide for your spiritual fullness. He has provided it in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Just trust. Put your faith in Jesus.
You think that’s beautiful? He’s not done.
What about the our nakedness? What does God mean by that?
Fortunately, I have never had to worry about having clothes to cover me or keep me warm. But I do have worries like these:
I’m so far from being good enough. I’m hopeless! I’m so ashamed of myself! I can’t do anything right! I can’t seem to do what’s right for even a second at a time! What’s wrong with me?! Am I acceptable? Do I have some making up to do, or am I clean in Your sight? After all I’ve done wrong, will You still have me? Jesus, do I belong with you? Am I allowed in?
Do you ever have worries like these? Do you ever feel shame or fear because of your sin? I vote that we let Jesus answer this one, too.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness …
Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure garments.”
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
We do not need to feel shame at our sin or fear about our standing before God. Jesus has covered us with his own goodness so that the Father’s love for us is like his love for his own Son. Perfect. Complete. Unshakable.
Do not worry about how to cover your sin. If you’re trying to enter God’s sight wearing your own clothes, you do have reason to worry. A lot of reason to worry. God will not overlook even one minor sin. But He offers his own clean garment for you to wear! He paid a very high price for that garment so that you could be with Him, and He wants you to wear it. Will you?
So “do not be anxious”, as Jesus said, because God will provide a covering for your sin. He has provided it in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Just trust. Put your faith in Jesus.
Jesus’ words about anxiety and worry do have meaning for us. When Jesus tells us not to worry about food, water, or clothing, we can relate.
If you’ve ever worried about your emptiness being filled, your brokenness being made whole, or your filthiness being made clean, take heart. Jesus is all of that and more. But believing that water can quench your thirst isn’t enough. You have to actually drink it. Put your faith in Jesus for all these things, and you will have them. More importantly, you will have Him. There is no substitute.
When Jesus says he can quench your thirst, believe him. When you find yourself with dirty spiritual clothes, trust that your loving Father has provided his own white garments. He’s got it covered. Do not worry, but believe.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” [Matthew 5:6]