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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Turning Worrying into Action
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.