Why do we worry? Because stress and worry are inevitable. Some days it’s the little things, other days it’s a mountain of little things. Sometimes it’s big things. Luckily, our bodies are made to deal with stress. When needed, our “fight or flight” response kicks in and gives us the physical responses we need in an emergency. But when we put our bodies in a chronic state of the stress response, it can interfere with our emotional and physical health.
Before I go any further, I want to say that our bodies are incredibly complicated. There will be times that medication and/or counseling are needed to bring us back into the alignment that needs to happen for relief. What I want to concentrate on now though, is a way to deal with everyday worries and stresses. God has some concrete ways to wage this battle. Let’s look at some verses that address worry directly and see how he wants us to respond.
What Does God Say about Worrying
Just as none of us are immune to worry, be encouraged that it was an issue for the disciples too. Jesus gives an entire sermon on the topic that is recorded in Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31. The first thing he says is “Do not worry”– not about your life, what you will eat or drink, about your body, or what you will wear.
One of the most direct verses that address worry is Philippians 4:5- “Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
It seems pretty clear- worry, anxiety, and stress are not things that God wants to take over our lives. But do not worry about anything? Does that somehow seem impossible? What about our jobs? Homes? School? Health? Loved ones?
All those things can concern us- but there’s a difference between worry and concern.
Concern should cause us to work to provide for our needs or take a positive action to alleviate the concern.
Worry differs from concern. Worry keeps us stuck in a state of fear and dwelling on our issue.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Trusting God
God knows worry is an incredible waste of time. It causes us to focus on details that we can’t control; dwelling on what could go wrong, or what will happen in the future.
What God does want us to focus on is dealing with concerns in a healthy way. That would include:
•Pray first. Start there. Give it to God. Put it in his hands- literally; tell him you are handing this situation over to him.
•Pray for his peace to overwhelm you instead of turning the concern into worry. And if the concern is too big- ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you. But always- start with prayer.
•Ask him to show you how to work out your problems and concerns.
•Work only on what you can control,
•Plan healthy ways to cope, and
•Replace worry by looking for his blessings in your day.
He is very clear- Do not worry. God has a plan for our lives, and his timing is perfect. He knows our future. Trust Him.
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In Matthew 6:27, Jesus tells us “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” God knows worry is harmful to our health. Chronic worry can hurt us physically (sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, etc), mentally (overwhelmed, distracted, frustrated, etc), and spiritually (we focus on fear, not God.)
We need to recognize what worry is: a dangerous habit that doesn’t help or change our situation. It doesn’t solve our problems or give us peace about them. Positive thinking, having a great day at work, and getting along with others-all those things are great, but can change in a heartbeat. They feel good at the moment but are the world’s peace. Real, true, lasting peace only comes from trusting God with your life. Seek his peace.
Cause of Worry
In verse 30, Jesus gets to the root cause of worry- unbelief. “O you of little faith,” he says. Worry shows a lack of faith in his love and care for us. Our unbelief leads us down the path of worry rather than being content in his plan for our lives.
Now that one hurts. Is my worry unbelief? I immediately thought of the verse “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”-Mark 9:24. I do believe! Therefore, worry cannot take over my thoughts. Instead, I have to have faith that God is in charge of my life. I’m certain of his love and can think of many ways he has provided for me in the past. He has a plan for me. He’s working it out with his strength and love. My worries just get in the way of his plan. Have faith.
Jesus continues in v33 with this antidote to worry- “Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you.” He wants first and foremost that our thoughts should be on Him. We have to trust in His character, His promises, and His deep love for us.
I Trust God but I Still Worry
When worry creeps in, stop and choose where you focus your attention- on God, or on your worries.
The Luke version of the Last Supper tells us the story of the disciples getting wrapped up in worrying about which one of them was going to be considered the greatest. They were missing out on Jesus’s important last teachings, worrying instead about their future status!
When you worry, you’re concentrating first on your concerns. See worry for what it is. It can become so automatic. It can lead us down to a “worst-case” scenario, sadness, and anger. Stop– give your attention to what God is trying to tell you. Put God first.
Thank you, Jesus, for knowing we would struggle with this. Thank you for showing us a way out. You know we trust you and love you! But sometimes we try to sneak back little (or big) parts of our lives for ourselves. It’s been a slow learning process. Help us recognize worry for what it is and how it negatively affects us. Amen
Try putting these 5 things in practice when you’re tempted to worry and see if they make a difference for you too:
Seek His peace
Put God first
The great thing about moving through prayer, trust, and faith is that they lead to peace, hope, and joy!
That’s how I want to live my life.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him”– Romans 15:13
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”– John 15:11