The other day I learned (from Tim Keller!) that the Greek word for anxiety – marimna – means “to be in pieces” or to have a divided mind with too many goals.
One example of its use is in the Mary and Martha story. I always hear this passage preached with the warning to not be too busy to enjoy Jesus. These sermons irritate me because I wonder: Who’s going to do All The Things if everyone’s sitting around appreciating the presence of Jesus?!
People like to focus on Mary and Martha’s behavior, but in the context of “marimna,” Jesus is addressing their hearts. It’s not about all the things Martha is doing; he’s saying she has too many priorities – her heart is divided.
If anxiousness is to have a divided heart and mind, then peace, the opposite of anxiety, is to be single-minded.
But peace doesn’t come merely in choosing one goal to chase over all the others; true peace comes when we are single-minded toward Jesus and let everything else gravitate around him.
According to the passage, Mary is single-minded toward Jesus. This doesn’t mean she neglects all the work – it just means she finds peace in Jesus, not in her to-do list.
Two years ago I wrote about this same thing in a post called, Restful Worship. Here’s an excerpt…
Whatever circumstances I find myself in â€“ whether emotional turmoil, financial hardship, or even just a busy schedule â€“ God will not only sustain me in the midst of it, but he will provide a season of peace.
But itâ€™s not the sort of peace where I catch up on laundry, sleep, and 30Rock episodes, but a peace thatâ€™s intended to remind me of who God is and how he sustained me through the day (or week, or month, or however long Iâ€™ve been slogging along).
He provides an opportunity for restful worship.
This Fall I was feeling very anxious again and, quite frankly, a little cray-cray. My heart was in pieces, divided. I was worrying about all the circumstances around me, which led me to be controlling and argumentative, then despairing when I couldn’t control or argue my desires into existence.
Thankfully, my heart and mind are at peace again – single-minded toward Jesus.
How do you struggle with marimna? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.