The One Thing About Worry

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photo by Zerrick Burkey, Beaver Crossing, Nebraska

Getting Nowhere

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives us something to do, but it doesn’t get us anywhere.

It gives us something to do, but that something is wasting time and effort as well as energy expended for nothing.

So why, then, do we worry? Why do we get our stomachs turned into a knot while we chew over a problem, especially when there is nothing we can do about the problem? What about the times we worry about the problems other people have? Why do we feel “called” to worry about someone else?

There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t worried – or isn’t worrying now.

Do we enjoy being busy with things that detract us from God? Is it easier to worry than it is to find fulfillment in serving in the Kingdom of God?

What Worry Does

Worry takes energy from us that we could be using for something good.

Worry tells God, “I don’t trust You. You can’t take care of this, and I know more about it than You do.”

Worry takes time away from others and from good, important things.

It sinks us down into the doldrums and we become afraid, sad, or depressed – perhaps all three. When we worry, we are not at rest. God wants us to be at rest.

Some of us are more prone to worrying. Some of us have temperaments that can sink us to a bottomless pit faster than one can say, “Don’t worry.” Some of us face situations that cause more concern than others. I get that.

What’s Wrong With Worry

Corrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” It’s true. We spend time and energy on things that take our attention away from Kingdom work, our relationship with God, and daily responsibilities.

Jesus said that since none of us can change our stature or live a minute longer if we worry, then we must not worry.

Worry is a sin. That’s reason enough to whittle away at the things that cause us to become worried.

Antidote for Worry

Jesus said when we are weary and burdened, we should come to Him and He will give us rest.

The Psalmist said we should throw our cares on Him, and He will sustain us.

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photo by Timothy Miller, Indiana

Jesus said that when we are worried or afraid, we should consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. “Look around you,” He told the people. “The birds don’t worry about finding food or shelter; the flowers don’t worry about what to wear. If God notices even when a sparrow falls, then He will certainly take care of you.”

What Jesus was telling us is this: Do not worry. Don’t worry about anything.
This is why: your God, who cares about you, is in control.

Totally true, but easier said than done.

So what’s a person to do when she is worried? There are so many unknowns out there, and sometimes not knowing is worse than actually knowing the truth.

The Frenzy of Worry

Truth be told, I’ve spent so much time worrying about things that never happened – all wasted energy and wasted focus. I can’t tell you how many funerals I’ve planned for my husband when he was late coming home or I could not get in touch with him for hours. I’ve planned funerals for my kids when I didn’t know where they were. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been awake at night, fretting over one of my kids – worrying about choices they were making, their safety, or other situations.  The one productive thing I could do about any of those things was praying and speaking Truth.

I’ve been awake at night fretting over relationships, health crises of others, and situations about which I could do absolutely nothing. I spent energy letting my mind run through all the what ifs. 

You know what I discovered? That there is no reason to waste my energy on Worry.

I can run the gauntlet of whats ifs and the final, “worst” outcome would be that someone I love goes to Heaven. Would that be so bad for them?  Absolutely not.  For me? Loss and pain, for sure. Would I find the grace I needed when/if that comes? You bet. So tell me again why I should worry?!

Other than driving me to storm the gates of Heaven (where my name is already known), there is really nothing that I can do that will change that about which I am concerned. Not one iota.

When worry comes knocking at my door, I sometimes let it slip in. Usually, I don’t realize I’ve opened that door.

You can be sure that if Worry knocked on my door and said to me, “I’m Worry – please let me in,” I’d be slamming the door in his face.

As it is, Worry comes in unannounced and uninvited.

Before I know it, I’ve made him welcome. I entertain Worry and find more things to make him comfortable staying longer. Before I have time to realize, I am spending my time and my energy feeding Worry instead of feeding my soul with the goodness of God.

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Battle Armor for Worry

Let me tell you what I do.

  • Sometimes I literally let my mind go down that What If trail – and I ask myself: IF What If actually happens, what then? Will I find that God’s grace is enough for me? Will I be willing to accept what has happened instead of living in the  IF ONLYs?
  • I recognize that what I have been doing is wrong. No excuses, no “but You don’t understand, God, why I have to worry!” I confess this Worry is wrong. It is sin.
  • I ask forgiveness of the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, who makes every blade of grass and knows the number of every strand of hair on my head (which is less now than it used to be).
  • I turn my focus to Who God is in thanksgiving. I do this because of some verses in scripture that I call my Worry Formula.

We are never advised not to pray about our concerns. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians,

Don’t be anxious about anything,

pray about everything with thanksgiving

and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.

That’s the formula.

  1. Don’t be anxious about anything. STOP focusing on the problem. Focus on God’s Promises. Scripture is full of promises. He knows the end from the beginning. He will never, ever leave us. He is already in our tomorrows. Go to the Word and find His promises. Focus on those Promises.
  2. Pray about everything.  Turn your eyes on the One who makes all things new. Yes, yes, yes. Tell God your troubles. He already knows, but tell Him because this is what He said we should do. When you tell Him your troubles, remember His promises back to Him as well.
  3. Be thankful.  Turn your focus on what you have and not the what ifs or the if onlys. Being thankful changes our outlook. This formula doesn’t dissolve our troubles, but it does change our focus from who we are to Who He is.

If we follow this formula, it will change the way we do Worry.

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Turning Worrying into Action

  1. If there is something I can actually do (besides worry) I focus on doing and being. Sometimes there are things I can do. Certainly, I can pray.
  2. If there is nothing I can do about the situation (except pray), then I find something else to do with my time so I don’t have time to worry. One thing I can do is begin praying for others. Satan does not want me to pray – so often times He leaves me alone once I start praying for others.
  3. Invest in someone or something.  When I have “too much time” on my hands, I have more time for worry. There are so many good causes, so many hurting and lonely people around who can use our help and our cheer. Use your energy to invest in others instead of worrying. Doing something for someone else changes our focus. I know this works.

The One Thing About Worry

Worry robs us of joy.

It depletes of us energy.

It turns our attention from God’s PROMISES to Life’s PROBLEMS.

The one thing about Worry is this: It is sin, and it must not be allowed to be entertained or to stay.

 

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Why I Read the Last Chapter

The last chapter is always better than the first. You remember the days – not being able to finish the book without reading that last chapter.  All snuggled under a cover with night sounds cascading outside, or sitting outside on the porch swing, or lying on a blanket in the grass.  The book was full of mystery and love.  How was this going to play out?  Who was she going to marry?  Would the criminal get caught or get away?

There was one sure-fire way to find out:  read the last chapter of the book.

Sometimes I held out, determined that it was best to find out when I got to the end.  And sometimes? Well, let’s just say that curiosity (and sometimes fear) got the best of me and I’d sneak a peak at the last chapters.  I didn’t want to wait to find out.  I wanted to know now because it would be easier to enjoy the book if I knew the outcome.

In real life, one never knows until the event occurs.  We can’t read the last chapter of the book we are living because we’re not there yet.  We’re still going through life.

In the political climate of our times, each of us can suppose what is going to happen.  We can root and cheer for one side or the other.  We can hope and pray for the outcome we think should happen.  We can read projections and listen to debates.  We can wonder what this world’s a-comin’ to.  We can wonder where our country will be or what the economy will be in a few years, but that’s all we can do: just wonder.

Yet, the fact remains, that we really don’t know.

Let me tell you something I do know and that’s because I’ve read that final, last chapter.

I know what the outcome of this world is going to be.  I know Who is going to be the triumphant one.  I know the Winner.   I have read the final chapter.

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  One day, all injustices will be done away and He will wipe away every tear.

The fact remains that the winning team belongs to Jesus.

The question is:  are we on the winning team?

Read the final chapter – it will  help you make it through the chapters remaining in your life.

Oh yes, then remember to pray!

How to Find the Sweet in the Bitter

The Water, the River, and the Fire is an Opportunity to Choose

Between the Bitter or the Sweet

What started out bitter became sweet. The threat of death gave way to life. Cousins tell the story of their vacation in Hawaii – when they left their spouses in the motel and took an early morning swim. Somehow they got caught in a riptide. Before they knew it, they were being pushed out to sea. For hours, they struggled and fought the waves until their strength was gone. They thought they were going to die, so they gave up.

The current carried them away as they drifted along. The Riptide eventually tossed them aside and moved to other territories. It took a while before they realized they were drifting back to shore. In not fighting the waves, they survived. Soon, exhausted, they were back on the shore. It’s been years since their experience, but they have never forgotten.

When life throws us currents that threaten to overcome us, when storms and fires threaten to engulf us, it’s so easy to focus on the storm and the bitter instead of looking for the sweet. It’s so easy to fight the waves that are pounding our safe place instead of riding those waves.

When our kids or spouse are hurting and we just want to fix it, but we can’t, we need to look for the sweet. When the darts of the devil plummet us, we need to look for the sweet. When we’re facing financial ruin,  fractured relationships, or fatiguing health, the sweet is there. We just have to comb the honey.

We can find the bitter every day of our lives without even searching.

Have you tasted any of this bitter?

  • broken contracts and commitments
  • strained relationships
  • betrayal and false accusations
  • loss of a job
  • terminal diagnoses
  • fractured families and friends
  • financial upheavals
  • death

Instead of focusing on the bitter, we need to sink our teeth into the sweet. That’s the only way to truly taste the sweet. Scripture tells us that the Word of God is more desirable than gold and is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. 
We can find the sweet in the promises of God.  Some of these are found in Isaiah 43:1-3.
  • He has called us by name; we are His.
  • When we pass through the waters, He will be with us.
  • When we pass through the rivers, they will not overflow.
  • When we walk through the fire, we will not be burned.

ALL of this because He is the Lord, our God and our Savior.

When investments come up empty, when our dreams are shattered, and when hope seems gone, I can resist His call to find the sweet. When life doesn’t make sense and when prayers seem to go unanswered, I can choose to gnaw on the bitter or savor the sweet. When life is unfair and when grief is overwhelming, I get to make a conscious choice to focus on the sweet. Whether it’s the water or the river, or an all-consuming fire, I can choose to quit fighting the unfairness and the losses. I can choose, instead, to trust a God Who said He will be with me.

I can choose to taste the sweet.honey teaspoon

How about you?  How many times have you tasted the sting of the bitter?

How about claiming the sweet?

There are so many promises in the Word of God. Do we know those promises? Have we experienced them?

What scriptures can you claim today that will help you focus on the sweet? How firm is your foundation?

The song How Firm a Foundation  is based on the scripture in Isaiah. To listen to Danny Ortego sing this song that is taken from this scripture, click here.  To hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the same song in a different tune, you can listen here.