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Lesson 2: Divine Provision for Anxiety *

Introduction: "One Day at a Time." "Don't worry, be happy." "What - Me Worry?" I think of the first as a bumper sticker, the second the slogan of an island, the third a quote from Alfred E. Neuman on the cover of Mad magazine. Are these words to live by? Or, are they the thoughts of the short-sighted, lazy and crazy? Generally, my solution to worry is to work harder, exercise more and plan better. Am I crazy? What is your approach to worry? Does anxiety cripple your life and make it less pleasant? Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about God's view about worry!



  1. Abraham and Worry


    1. Read Genesis 15:1. What kind of things do you normally worry about? (Having something bad happen to you or your family. Being embarrassed by not doing well.)


      1. If the suggested answers reflect your worries, how does God address them? (God says "I am your shield" which suggests that He protects us from bad things. God also says that He is our "very great reward," which suggests that we will do well. We will be rewarded.)


    2. Read Genesis 15:2-3. Abram does not say that he is worrying. Do you think that he is worried? (God says I will be your shield and your reward. Abram responds that God has not shielded him from the family problem of not having an heir. God has not helped him in the reward department because he does not have a son to continue his line and inherit his money. If these are the things we normally worry about, then Abram is worried.)


      1. Are you like Abram: do you say, "God's promises are not lining up with reality?"


      2. Do you worry about what you read in the Bible? For example, Job, a perfect man, has his children killed and loses his wealth. We read things in the Bible that should make followers of God have plenty to worry about (if they had any common sense), right?


    3. Read Genesis 15:4-6. How does God respond to Abram's point about the gap between God's promises and reality? (God makes a special promise to Abram that He will close the gap in the future - and Abram believes God.)


      1. How should we apply this story to our life? (Abram looked beyond reality to the promise of God. We know that God in fact came through with His promise to Abram.)


      2. Read Hebrews 11:11&13. What approach does this suggest for anxiety? (Trusting the promises of God even though we do not see them come true in our lifetime.)


      3. How would you find God's promise to you? (Perhaps God will come to us like He came to Abraham and make specific promises. More likely, we need to search the Bible for God's promises concerning things that cause us worry. Let's do that next.)


  2. God's Promise About Relationships


    1. Read John 14:1-3. What was troubling the disciples? (Jesus told them that He was going away.)


      1. What kind of worries would that cause? (The disciples were worried about "their family." They were worried about their professional future (see Acts 1:6).)


        1. Should the disciples have worried about these things? What do we know about their future that they did not know? (Their dreams about being rulers on earth now were dashed. Jesus did not return to take them home during their lifetime.)


      2. What promise does Jesus give them that applies to us? (Jesus said that He would make these things right when He returned.)


  3. God's Promises About Stuff


    1. Read Isaiah 33:15-16. What does God promise the faithful? (Enough water and enough bread.)


      1. Did the disciples have higher earthly ambitions than that? What about you?

  1. Abraham and Worry


    1. Read Genesis 15:1. What kind of things do you normally worry about? (Having something bad happen to you or your family. Being embarrassed by not doing well.)


      1. If the suggested answers reflect your worries, how does God address them? (God says "I am your shield" which suggests that He protects us from bad things. God also says that He is our "very great reward," which suggests that we will do well. We will be rewarded.)


    2. Read Genesis 15:2-3. Abram does not say that he is worrying. Do you think that he is worried? (God says I will be your shield and your reward. Abram responds that God has not shielded him from the family problem of not having an heir. God has not helped him in the reward department because he does not have a son to continue his line and inherit his money. If these are the things we normally worry about, then Abram is worried.)


      1. Are you like Abram: do you say, "God's promises are not lining up with reality?"


      2. Do you worry about what you read in the Bible? For example, Job, a perfect man, has his children killed and loses his wealth. We read things in the Bible that should make followers of God have plenty to worry about (if they had any common sense), right?


    3. Read Genesis 15:4-6. How does God respond to Abram's point about the gap between God's promises and reality? (God makes a special promise to Abram that He will close the gap in the future - and Abram believes God.)


      1. How should we apply this story to our life? (Abram looked beyond reality to the promise of God. We know that God in fact came through with His promise to Abram.)


      2. Read Hebrews 11:11&13. What approach does this suggest for anxiety? (Trusting the promises of God even though we do not see them come true in our lifetime.)


      3. How would you find God's promise to you? (Perhaps God will come to us like He came to Abraham and make specific promises. More likely, we need to search the Bible for God's promises concerning things that cause us worry. Let's do that next.)


  2. God's Promise About Relationships


    1. Read John 14:1-3. What was troubling the disciples? (Jesus told them that He was going away.)


      1. What kind of worries would that cause? (The disciples were worried about "their family." They were worried about their professional future (see Acts 1:6).)


        1. Should the disciples have worried about these things? What do we know about their future that they did not know? (Their dreams about being rulers on earth now were dashed. Jesus did not return to take them home during their lifetime.)


      2. What promise does Jesus give them that applies to us? (Jesus said that He would make these things right when He returned.)


  3. God's Promises About Stuff


    1. Read Isaiah 33:15-16. What does God promise the faithful? (Enough water and enough bread.)


      1. Did the disciples have higher earthly ambitions than that? What about you?

        1. Is it possible that some of our anxiety exists because our material desires are set too high? Is greed a source of our worry?


      1. Read Philippians 4:11-13. What is Paul's secret to avoiding anxiety about his relative wealth?


    1. Read Matthew 6:25. This suggests setting priorities for our ambitions. What are they? (Life and health are more important than food and clothes.)


      1. Has this order of importance a bearing on anxiety? (Let's read on.)


    2. Read Matthew 6:26. What are we to conclude about worry from this text? (That God will provide us with food since He provides the less important birds with food.)


      1. Go back and consider the order of importance: that our life is more important than food. What is Jesus saying about our life? (If God will provide for food, He will certainly provide for our life.)


      2. Is Jesus suggesting that we do not need to sow, reap or store away?


      3. What have you observed about birds and food: do they sit around and let squirrels feed them? (Birds are constantly looking around for food. They work for their food.)


        1. Since birds are constantly working for food, but do not sow, reap or store, what should we conclude about our God and our anxiety about food? (God gave humans the sow, reap and store plan. He gave birds the constant looking for food plan. Whatever the plan of action, worry is not part of the plan because God is our ultimate source.)


    3. Read Matthew 6:27. Is it really true that we cannot add to our life span? A friend of mine recently developed diabetes because he is obese. Shortly before that he took up cigar smoking. My son (the medical doctor) said "He should be worried about his longevity. Take off ten years for diabetes and another ten for smoking." Should my friend not worry? (Look carefully at what Jesus said: worry will not make you live longer. It will also not make you taller or better looking. However, my friend will live longer if he loses weight and stops smoking.)


    4. Read Matthew 6:28-30. What complaint do you hear most frequently from fellow Christians about how others dress? (Notice that Jesus does not condemn beautiful clothes. He condemns worrying about having clothes.)


      1. Recall our priority discussion. What is Jesus saying beyond clothes? (Since out body is more important than clothes ( Matthew 6:25), Jesus is telling us that we need not worry about our body either.)


    5. Read Matthew 6:31-32. How does the world react to the need for food, drink and clothes? (They work hard for them. Does this remind you of how I said I react to worry - work harder?)


    6. Read Matthew 6:33. How should Christians react to the need for food, drink and clothes? (Instead of running to make money, we need to run to advance God's Kingdom. We need to put righteous living first. This does not mean we don't work hard, it means our hard work is kingdom promoting work.)


    7. Read Matthew 6:34. Is this "one day at a time?" Or, is this "don't lose the joy and effectiveness of today by worrying about tomorrow?"


      1. The web site Bible.org reports from an unknown source that the average person's anxiety is focused on: 40% things that will never happen; 30% things that cannot be changed; 12% the mostly untrue criticism of others; 10% about health - which is not helped by stress; and, 8% about real problems that must be faced. Is this true in your experience?


        1. Is the answer is "yes," how important it is to burn Matthew 6:34 into our consciousness!


    8. Friend, it seems that the solution to anxiety is to trust God. He may not solve the problem during our lifetime, He may not do things the way we prefer, but if we decide to trust His decisionmaking, if we work to advance His Kingdom, we need not be crippled by anxiety. Will you determine to trust God?


  1. Next week: Stress.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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