Seeking God’s kingdom is the antidote to poisonous worry.
Sometimes a sense of worry sets in, a worry about future safety. Your Boss was critical of you a couple of days in a row and you worry fearing if this would go south and you will lose your job and if you will have enough money for retirement. Psychologist call this way of thinking “catastrophizing” – meaning one small thing goes wrong and from then on your worry takes over and builds a mountain out of a molehole, before you know it you are dying on the streets homeless!
The problem with this poisonous catastrophizing is that it robs us from enjoying the grace of the present moment because we are so worried about some extreme future scenario. It is this kind of catastrophizing worry is what Jesus talks about in Matt 6:25-34 asking, “will you be able to add one hour to your day by worrying?” Conversely, by this king of catastrophic worrying you end up loosing hours in the day.
I lost over an hour in my day. I was worried about something and I started try to think my way out of it, which made it worse because it kept making me go down into the quick sand, deeper into my catastrophizing-worry. Then my other strategy was to escape from catasrophizing-worry by seeing 2 episodes of Big Bang Theory, quite mindlessly I should add.
Then I caught myself and asked, what can I do get out of this mind rut? Good new is that Jesus provides the answer in verse 33, but seek first the kingdom of God.
To seek the kingdom of God is NOT merely a cognitive exercise. Seeking is an activity. The antidote to catastrophizing-worry is not to think oneself out of it – it is to act oneself out of it, seeking God’s kingdom in the present moment. This is what psychologists call “behavior activation.”
Seeking the kingdom at the moment of catastophizing-worry is to do something, even if small, increasing our sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit is doing in our life. For some of us, this seeking can take the form of going for a quick prayer walk, or listening to a worship son that increases our sensitivity to the Spirit of God, for me, yesterday, this meant reading Mme. Guyon’s book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ.
Matt 6 is a part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, describing the kingdom ethic for Christians. How to deal with worry about future is a key part of kingdom ethic. So Jesus addresses this deeply existential issue of worry by asking us to seek first His kingdom.
Seeking God’s kingdom is the antidote to poisonous worry. The solution to worry is not to try to think or strategize oneself our of it or to escape from it by seeing tv shows or eating food or drinking liquer, but to perform an action seeking the kingdom of God. When we seek the kingdom of God we become sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s comforting presence! Then we will not get caught in the quick sand of catastrophizing-worry.