Recently my 8 year old girl said to me, “Mom, if we could know the future, what would happen?”
I have to confess that I could not answer her quickly. I sighed and for a few seconds I imagined the panorama, to the point that I was filled with anxiety. And I said, “Dear, if we knew the future, I assure you that we would not be able to enjoy the present. That means that we will know what diseases we will suffer from, if we will have accidents, losses, how many things will overshadow our present! God definitely knew what he was doing by not giving us the power to know the future. Our lives would be spent trying to change instead of forging the future.”
If God does not allow us to know or have control over the future, then why do we always worry about what will happen? That’s what Jesus called it: worry. (Matthew 6:34) The enemy of faith and the friend of anxiety. We constantly live a mental and emotional struggle because we do not know what will happen. During the journey of helping people deal with traumatic events, I have seen up close how detrimental it is to physical, emotional and even spiritual health when we do not take care of our emotions.
That is why God in his endless goodness, knowing that we would go through these things, provided us in his Word tools to identify and overcome this impending event in our lives called anxiety. One of these is found in Matthew 26:34, where Jesus Christ teaches his followers to live one day at a time.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:34 NIV
It is interesting that in the middle of a series of chapters where Jesus is recorded teaching fundamental principles such as fasting, prayer, integrity, generosity, among others; He includes the topic of anxiety. It seems that Jesus knew that caring for our emotions is an important element in our overall health. If our emotions are not well, our body, our spirit, and our relationship with others suffer.
Jesus invites us, among all these important things, to also learn to live one day at a time. Otherwise, we will not be able to focus on that which is necessary, and our health will suffer. Although anxiety is a necessary feeling for survival, as much as happiness, sadness, or fear, it should not be a permanent state.
Lexico describes anxiety as, “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.” This means that anxiety does not come from what you are living, but from what you are thinking. It comes from what is happening in your mind and from trying to solve things that have not yet happened. Once you identify when anxiety is taking control in your life, it is important to address it. And it all starts with the principle that Jesus left us, one day at a time.
But how do we live one day at a time in a world where everything is so accelerated and where we are forced to plan? Actually, we do have to think about our future. Significados describes planning as bringing the future into the present so that we can do something about it today. So we must plan for the future, but not worry about it.
Here are three biblical principles based on Philippians 4, that will be your allies and resources of the Holy Spirit to help you in this process:
- God is your source of joy.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I insist: Rejoice!… The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:4-5). Let God be your source of joy by understanding that no one else has the power to meet your physical, spiritual, or emotional needs and remembering that He will never leave you.
- Do not give place to anxiety.
“Do not be anxious (toil, worry) about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, present your requests to God and give him thanks. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7 NIV). God will guard those places where your battles are happening, your mind (thoughts) and heart (attitudes, emotions, feelings) as you pray, present your requests to Him, and give Him thanks (act of faith and trust).
- Fight destructive thoughts.
“Finally, brothers, consider well all that is true, all that is respectable, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is kind, all that is worthy of admiration, in short, all that is excellent or worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). God has given you the power to redirect your thoughts. If you constantly filter your thoughts with this truth, you will be able to identify those that are not from God. If they do not meet these qualities mentioned above, you should not give them a place in your life and mind.
I encourage you to take care of your present, instead of worrying about tomorrow by “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).