It feels like a long leave away from this blog.
Yet it seems only yesterday that we began the year, and only too soon we are near to the end. I am quite certain many of us must have wondered at the beginning of the year how will it pan out. Yet we have gone through each month and we now we have entered the month of December.
To God be the glory!
Before proceeding further, I wish to thank readers who have taken a special interest in previous articles from this blog and for those who did not give up on me but encouraged me to keep writing even after I had ‘disappeared’.
Going back to the point about wondering what the future might bring, there is a tendency in humans to worry or become anxious when the prospects of life are not certain. Anxiety can range from daily worries about what to eat or wear, to the very big decisions of life such as what career path to take, who to marry or where to live. If worrying becomes a pattern, it can even become a crippling condition, affecting one’s way of life, level of functioning and/or even interactions with others.
There is a passage of scripture that squarely addresses this tendency of man to worry or become anxious and offers us some instructions for a more anxious-free living. In Matthew 6:24-34 it brings together two themes: anxiety and security; let’s look at verses 24-25:
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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?”
Our Need For Security
As humans we have a basic human need for security.
Security comes from the root word ‘secure’ which denotes being ‘free from anxiety’. The feeling of security is what we get when we wake up in the morning with the guarantee of a job to go to, when we wake up to find our spouse and children still with us or when we open the fridge at the beginning of the week and find it full to our satisfaction. It is that same feeling we get when we receive the paycheck at the end of the month – even though it does not always stretch to the following month. Security is the feeling we get when we feel accepted by friends. It is that feeling of reassurance a child gets on his first day at school when he is faced with strange faces but suddenly turns around to find the face of mummy in the crowd.
This point is very well illustrated in the well-known Attachment Theory of John Bowlby. In his famous experiments on maternal separation or deprivation where children who were separated from their care-givers demonstrated several levels of anxiety and distress behaviour, i.e. protest, despair and even detachment.
As humans when our sense of security is threatened we become anxious, leaving us in a state of insecurity and fear. Insecurity can drive one to all sorts of behaviours. It is insecurity that makes a victim to stay with an abusive partner or for a person to hang around friends they know have an unwholesome influence. It can stop a person from saying “no” to pressure or even cause one to compromise on the Word of God.
Where Is Your Source of Security?
An important question to ask is “where do YOU get your sense of security from?”
Some of us derive our sense of security from wealth, some from status and yet others from the people we know as in the popular parlance ‘it’s whom you know’. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking what to do to inherit eternal life, was confronted with this same question when asked to go and sell all he had and give to the poor (Matthew 19:16-24). In this account, the bible records that the young man turned away sorrowfully for he had great possessions. The question of where our sense of security comes from is not one to be answered hastily!
In the course of my work as a mental health nurse, every week I am privileged to come across people whose lives have been interrupted or shattered in one way or another with issues of life. This may take the form of a broken relationship, a lost career, loss of livelihood such as benefit cuts, loss of physical health and so on – something that they relied on for a sense of security and for their psychological sense of wellbeing.
An Even Better Source of Security
Yet in the passage under our scrutiny (Matthew 6:24-34), God offers the Christian another source of security – Himself. I believe God is saying in this passage, “Am I not sufficient enough?” “Why do you go chasing all these things when I am your sufficiency?”
You see, life on earth carries with it an inherent deception – that satisfaction/fulfillment can be found in things we have (our possessions) or the things we do (our identity/status/reputation) or the things we achieve (our achievements/recognition).
Yet both the experience of life and the Word of God teach us that such security is ephemeral and can be short-lived. No wonder in the developed parts of the world despite many advances in the economy, much of society is still broken and in search of some form of wholeness.
The truth is, there is an emptiness in the soul of man that only Jesus the Creator can truly satisfy if only we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).