In 2020, 60% of Americans struggle with anxiety…
In my back yard, I have a peace lily I planted almost a year ago. Throughout the winter and spring, it thrived. But when the hot Florida summer blasted on us, the lily wilted. The blooms disappeared. The leaves turned yellow. I had to bring water out to keep it alive.
I also have a big old tree in my back yard. I don’t know what kind it is, but I know it isn’t bothered by changes in the weather. Spring or fall, winter or summer, rain or shine, it flourishes. It continuously provides a habitat for birds, squirrels, and lizards, it shades my back porch, and I never have to water it.
What’s the difference between the lily and the tree? The difference is in the roots.
Are we the peace lily, wilted and distressed when we face difficult circumstances? Or are we the tree, confidently thriving regardless of our circumstances? It depends on our roots.
The Bible compares a person who trusts God to a tree planted by a river.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
A tree planted by a river always has access to water because its root runs deep and far. In the hot summer, its leaves stay green. Even in a dry spell, it still bears fruit. Regardless of circumstances, it is fearless because it has roots in the life-giving river.
This is how God wants his people to live—rooted deeply in him. When our roots run deep, we aren’t afraid, anxious, or stressed out when life get bumpy and unpredictable. We’re at peace because we’re rooted in a God of peace. We experience joy during trials because we’re rooted in the source of joy.
It’s sad and a little shocking that in April, 2020, a Gallup poll found 60% of Americans plagued by stress and anxiety. This isn’t God’s plan for his people.
The antidote for anxiety isn’t yoga or valium. It isn’t even a change in our circumstances. The antidote for anxiety is trust in God. When we feel anxious about the future, we can choose to focus on God’s sovereignty. We can dare to accept that those who trust God really are blessed. We can be audacious enough to believe that God’s promise to work all things for good applies to us.
Anxiety passes as trust in God increases.– Max Lucado
We weren’t meant to live in a constant state of anxiety. We are meant to live calmly and confidently because our roots of trust to grow so deeply our anxiety evaporates.
God wants to heal that part of us that struggles with anxiety. For some, that healing may come with the help of a counselor or a doctor—and that’s OK. For all of us, our nights don’t have to be restless and fearful, and our morning doesn’t have to bring anxiety and stress. On the contrary, God wants us to sleep in peace and greet each morning with confidence in his fresh mercy, unending grace, and complete sovereignty.
Sovereign God, help me trust you more completely. Help me truly believe you are in control and good things are in store for my life. Give me roots embedded so deeply in you that anxiety has no power over me. Guide my steps and guard my heart. In Jesus’s name, amen.