Luke 10:38-42

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.””


Isn’t it interesting how often when you’re really struggling with something in life, God will point out something to you to that makes you stop and think.

Recently I’ve been having a lot of really bad anxiety and panic attacks and as I sat suffering in my seat during the meeting a week or two ago this passage was read out. It stuck to me like glue. I sat there and read it on repeat in my head because I knew God wanted me to take something from it.

We have all heard this story before where Martha and Mary have Jesus come to their house while he was in town. We know Martha complained because Mary wasn’t helping her in the kitchen and that the Lord told Martha that actually Mary was doing a good thing by sitting and listening to him.

I had heard the story before plenty of times. So isn’t it amazing how at one stage in my life this story has just washed straight over me without too much of a second thought. But now, in the heat of my anxiety it clung to me and I immediately saw a lesson God wanted me to learn.

There was Martha, doing what she really, genuinely thought was best for the Lord. Serving and extending hospitality to him and his disciples. She was a really thoughtful woman. And she didn’t just think nice thoughts for Jesus but she actually acted on these thoughts. She was a doer and took initiative.

But poor old Martha became distracted and distressed because she had so much to do and so much going on in her head. All that worry took over and she found herself an anxious mess.

She went to Jesus with her struggles and this is what he said.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.”

That sentence is what really caught my attention. I have really been feeling that way myself.

I took a look into what the words anxious and troubled meant to get a clearer idea of what he was saying.

Anxious ~ troubled with cares, to care for, to provide for and to look out for.

Troubled ~ turbid, disturbed, disquieted.

So I didn’t actually know the exact meaning of turbid either so I looked that up too. I found it very interesting and very relatable when I think of how an anxious state of mind feels.

Turbid ~ cloudy, opaque and thick liquid with matter suspended in it. Confused and obscure.

During a patch of anxiety I definitely feel like my mind is in a turbid state. It isn’t clear. It’s thick and your thoughts are hard to move through. There are bits and pieces floating about everywhere and you just can’t seem to control where your mind is swirling to. You just feel stuck.

I know these feelings and Martha did too. In fact Jesus says she is anxious about “many things”.

“Many things” actually doesn’t just refer to all the things she was doing right at that time. It means often, commonly, a great deal, plenteous and abundantly.

I don’t believe this anxiety Martha was suffering from was a one off incident.

So what can we do when we are in that state of anxiety? When our minds are cluttered with turbid goo how do we control it?

“One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

What was that one thing Mary had chosen that was so good? She was at the feet of the Lord listening to him.

There I was. Sitting in the meeting. Worrying about whatever popped into my head. In a murky, panicked state. All the while, words of the Lord were being read aloud to me. All I had to do was stop, take a breath, remember to sit at the feet of the Lord and listen to him.

I have one last thing I wanted to mention.

Anxiety can make you feel pretty worthless and alone. I believe that Martha really did struggle with stress and anxiety. So I’m sure she felt all those feelings too.

Over in John 11:5 it says something wonderful. It says, “Now Jesus loved Martha…”. Despite all her worries, despite the fact she didn’t spend that time listening to him. Jesus loved Martha. And I know he loves me too. Anxiety doesn’t make me any less loved.


“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,

nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Rom 8:35, 38-39




Everyone wants to feel as though they have joy in their lives. But sometimes it can feel a little elusive. Sure we have our moments that we feel pretty good, but overall there is no general contentment. We are never quite satisfied with how our lives are shaping up or things aren’t turning out to be quite as awesome as we expected. We worry about what will happen to us or others. We are anxious and even afraid about where our lives are headed or what is happening around us in the world. Sometimes our fear can be really paralysing and we desperately want to find a way to feel in control. But nothing we do helps. All we want is to find that peaceful feeling that can bring us some joy and ease.


Did you know that joy is mentioned at least 388 times in scripture? That includes all its variations including joyous, joyful, rejoice and etc.


The bible talks a lot more about joy than it does about happiness. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking they are the same thing, they are in fact quite different.

“Hap” means chance. It is the root of many different words. Happen, happening, haphazard, hapless, happenstance and happy. Happiness is actually a chance thing. Your circumstances dictate whether or not you feel happy. HAPpiness depends on what is HAPpening.


Joy however is different. Joy is not dependant on external events. Joy is inward. It is that peaceful calm you feel (regardless of your situation) when you know that God is present in your life. When you truly believe that all things will work out in the end because God loves you and will always look after you.


God actually commands us to be joyful. In Philippians 4:4 it says “Rejoice in the LORD alway and again I say rejoice!” The word rejoice here is a variant of the word rejoice. We are told we are always to be rejoicing in the LORD. It doesn’t say “whenever good things happen to you have joy” or “don’t worry, I know bad things happen and I don’t expect you to have joy in me at those times.” No. It says rejoice in God ALWAYS.


On the other hand God doesn’t expect us to be happy all the time. He knows we go through hard times in our lives where being happy is impossible. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4 it says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”.


So if joy is a lasting thing then can we lose joy? Yes! Joy is the trust we have in God outworking His mighty purpose. We can lose that joy in several different ways.


  1. When we stop studying the bible. When we stop putting God’s word in us every day we can quickly lose sight of the very real and very active hand of God. Reading the bible helps us see how God worked with people in times of old. It teaches us about His love for us and it tells us how He will work in the world around us now.
  2. When we sin. Sin can drive a big wedge between us and God. When we do something really wrong we can feel so guilty that we try to push God away. We feel we don’t deserve God’s love so we remove Him from our lives. We limit God’s mercy.
  3. When things go really wrong in our lives. Now I know I said that joy isn’t circumstantial and it doesn’t have to be, but sadly on occasion it can relate to what is going on in our lives. When something really tough happens it can be easy to blame God for it. To think He’s punishing us for whatever reason. Or to get mad at Him for allowing something so awful to happen to you. When we do this once again we can push God out of our lives thinking we no longer appreciate His input and try to solve things yourself.
  4. When we allow this world to take over our hearts. It is just so easy to do this. When something really big and exciting comes up in your life how easy is it to get so caught up in it that you actually forget all about God? When I have a big project I’m working on I just want to devote all my waking hours to it. All of a sudden when the project is over I realise that I have neglected the important things in my life and without the project taking up my time I am actually left pretty empty.  


Joy is largely composed of gratitude and trust. When we feel our joy lacking we have to step back from our immediate circumstances and see the bigger picture. We know what God has done for us. We know we can trust Him with the direction of our lives.


Despite things that may not make us feel very joyful we have something many people don’t that can bring us exceeding joy. We have a future hope. He has given us such precious promises that far excel anything this world has to offer. He is working with us in times of happiness and trials. Whatever is going on in our lives is happening for a reason. He is moulding us so we are fit for His Kingdom. This is a comforting fact which can bring us great joy no matter what.