(Why) Are You Stressed?
Ours is a stressful society. Life is getting more and more competitive and fast-paced. We feel like we have to be on the go all the time. In fact, being busy has become a virtue in our society. When our calendar is not packed with things to do, we feel like a loser.
College life can be quite stressful. There is no shortage of books to read, papers to write, and exams to take. You are constantly tested and graded yet there is so much to take in! And so much rides on your grades--your degree, your job, etc. How can you not be stressed out about these things?
Yet Jesus said, "Do not be anxious…" (Matthew 6:25). When He said that, He was not offering a magic formula that would remove all our anxiety, no matter what. No, there are things that come with the "anxiety factor." As long as we hold on to them, anxiety is inevitable. What are they?
Jesus called them "earthly treasures": "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). By "earthly treasures," He did not just mean gold, silver, and the like. He meant anything and everything that is subject to Time's theft and destruction--our wealth, our fame, our relationships, and even our life itself. Because they are subject to loss and decay, we become anxious when we try to hold on to them. When you have an old, beat-up car, you can park it anywhere. It's different when you have a brand new car without any scratch or dent, isn't it? The more we try to hold on to "earthly treasures," the more anxious we get.
The cause of our anxiety, then, is not that we don't have enough. It is said that, when Tiger Woods was making over $100 million/year, he was worried about his financial instability! History is replete with such examples. We all wish we had more. But no sooner do we get more than we begin to worry about how to keep it. To be content with what we have is much easier said than done, it seems.
And it's inevitable that we lose them all, eventually. Of course, we lose everything in death. But death is only the conclusion to a lengthy process which began long ago. Come to think of it, there are two phases in life. The first is the phase of acquisition. As soon as we are born, we begin this phase. We gain stature and mobility, knowledge and skills, friendships and relationships, degrees and jobs, our own families and children, etc.
But this phase doesn't last forever. Next comes the phase of loss. One by one, we lose what we've gained in the first phase--our youth and health, jobs and mobility, friends and families, etc. In the end, we lose our life itself and whatever we have acquired in life. There's nothing more certain in life than that. With nothing we entered this world; with nothing we'll exit it.
But Jesus assures us that death is not the end: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:20). He points us to a world, whose treasures are not subject to the destructive power of Time. But He did not just speak of such a world, like other religious leaders. He demonstrated the reality of that world by His death and resurrection! His resurrection is a powerful, historical manifestation of the life and power of the kingdom of God, which is triumphant over death and all that destroy earthly treasures.
The anxiety factor of earthly treasures is a warning signal. God put it there to alert us to the danger of putting our confidence and hope in them. They will disappoint us and fail us. They cannot give us what we truly long for. We are worth so much more than all that we can acquire in this life--"what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul" (Mark 8:36)? Our GPA is important. Getting a good job is important. So is being successful in our career and winning the respect of others for our skill and expertise. But we are much more than all these things. They are too small, too insignifi-cant, to satisfy us because God put eternity in our hearts. Have you not seen already that disappointment is the shadow of your dreams?
Turn from pursuing what you cannot keep, what will only make you anxious and disappoint you, and be taken away from you eventually! Turn to Jesus who is able to give you what you cannot lose. He alone can set you free from anxiousness and give you eternal security and lasting peace because He rose again from the dead to deliver us from sin and death and give us abundant and eternal life in His kingdom!