Why Not Worry?
When I was ten, my mother became sick to her stomach every day. I worried so much that I would catch her illness that she finally told me that I would get a baby brother or sister that summer. I’m a chronic worrier. I started young, and I’ve had lots of practice. Worry has become a bad habit, one that seems difficult—no, impossible--to break on my own!
Once when I casually told a friend, “Don’t worry, it’ll be alright,” she replied, “How do I don’t?” With all of the unrest in the world, not to mention personal troubles such as illness, debt, family problems and now this coronavirus pandemic, that’s a good question. “How can I not worry?”
Actually, if you haven’t become a Christian by receiving Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your own Savior from sin, you should worry about where you will go when you die. To get that matter settled, see the article, “That Nagging Question.” If you are confident that you have accepted God’s free gift of salvation from your sins through faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), either today or previously, God is now your heavenly Father. (“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
As a Christian, I know I shouldn’t worry, and you probably do, too. The Bible tells us not to worry (Philippians 4:6). Worry shows a lack of trust in God. It is based on many fears, including fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of loss and ultimately, fear of death. When Jesus' disciples woke Him from sleep because they were afraid in the storm on the Sea of Galilee, He asked them, “Why are ye so fearful, O ye of little faith”? (Matthew 8:36)
Worry is sinful because when I worry I'm not having faith that God will take care of me and provide for me as He has promised to do. But Jesus Christ won the victory over sin when He rose from the dead! So He has won the victory over worry! If God has forgiven all of your sins and made you His child through faith in Christ, you don’t have to worry! Your heavenly Father will take care of you.
Worry is similar to meditating. It is thinking about something, turning it over and over in my mind. But worry is useless! American humorist Erma Bombeck once said: “Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Worry is meditating on the wrong things. How much better to meditate on God and His word and on what Jesus has done for us!
When I've asked God to help me not to worry, I've often expected instant results. But in his book Principles of Spiritual Growth, author Miles J. Stanford advises that there is almost always a waiting period, sometimes a long one, between appropriating God's promises and receiving the answers. God works on his own time schedule, which often is much slower than we would like it to be. But God is working in my life, even when I don't realize it. “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
LEARNING TO TRUST GOD
In addition to taking time, learning not to worry also takes practice. Just as I would practice learning to play a musical instrument or a favorite sport, I need to practice not worrying. One way to practice is to memorize Bible verses about worry (see “No-Worry” verses at the end of this article), and then quote them when I catch myself worrying. God also gives me experiences to test my faith and to help me practice learning to trust Him. I’ve learned that often the things I worry about never even happen.
Once my husband and I were hiking in the mountains. By mistake we took a trail that was very steep, rocky and much too difficult for us. We both were in our 70's! By the time we realized our mistake, it was too hard to go back. I'll admit I worried as we picked our way over tree roots and rocks, found our way through boulder fields, and climbed up huge stone “steps” right beside a cliff. We were in danger of falling almost anywhere on the trail, which could have caused broken bones or even death. We also were vulnerable to lightning, high above tree-line on a summer afternoon. Or we could have lost our way and been forced to remain on the mountain all night. So I often prayed silently, and quoted Bible verses to myself. The Lord protected us from so many bad things that COULD have happened. The four-mile hike took us all day because of the difficult terrain, but we made it safely back to the shuttle bus—just a half hour before the last bus left!
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER TAKES CARE OF US
While hiking, I confessed my worry to God, but I also told God that I trusted Him because He knew where we were and has promised to help us (Psalm 46:1). The Lord brought comforting Bible verses to my mind, especially Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed: for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” I kept reminding myself that God was taking care of us. I praised God for the beautiful scenery we would have missed if we hadn't taken the wrong trail.
When we arrived back safely, I thanked God over and over! I wish I hadn't worried. But by testing me, my heavenly Father gave me a great opportunity to practice not worrying and to grow in trusting Him. I’m still learning not to worry, and I think I probably will be for the rest of my life.
When we find ourselves worrying, here are some things we can do, according to Philippians 4:4-8 ...
- Praise God! Think about all that God has done for you in saving you from your sins and giving you eternal life, then praise Him for it. Praise Him for all of the special people in your life. Praise Him for the beautiful world He has created, listing specific things that you like such as mountains, flowers, butterflies, dogs and cats, the ocean, dolphins and so much more. “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice” (verse 4).
- Live moderately Avoid excesses in eating, drinking, speech, temperment, sports, and anything that would take your focus away from God. “Let your moderation be known unto all men” (verse 5).
- Don’t worry, but pray about everything, and be thankful Turn the problem over to God, again and again if necessary. Trust Him to take care of it in the way that’s best for you. Trust Him to show you what to do if action is required. Thank Him for who He is and what He’s already done. “Be careful [anxious, full of care] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (verse 6).
- The result of committing your worries to the Lord: PEACE! “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (verse 7).
- Change the channel of your mind! It’s easy for our minds to get stuck on the worry, going over and over it, and adding more worries to it! Be especially wary of thoughts that begin with “What if…?” Substitute Scripture for the worry. Memorize Bible verses. You could start by choosing your favorite “No-Worry” verses listed at the end of this article. Quote them when you find yourself worrying. You could sing encouraging hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art,” or listen to comforting music. Focus your mind on the Lord, and on good things and pleasant thoughts, instead of on your worries or news broadcasts or social media. “”Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (verse 8).
Even if God hadn’t protected us from injury or death on that mountain trail, I know that His way is always best. I believe God knows what He’s doing! God is in control, and He’s taking care of me, so if I daily turn all of my worries over to God, then I really have nothing to worry about. And if you are a child of God, then neither do you!
(Portions of this article were adapted from “I’m a Worrier,” by Alice Brill, published by Regular Baptist Press in HORIZONS, March 25, 2018, used by permission of the author.)
“NO-WORRY” BIBLE VERSES
Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...”
Psalm 31:24 “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.”
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalm 57:1 “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in Thee: yea, in the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”
Psalm 50:15b God says, “...Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.”
Psalm 56:3 “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”
Isaiah 12:2 “...I will trust, and not be afraid...”
Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed: for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”
Matthew 6:25-34 Read Jesus’ teaching about worry in the Sermon on the Mount.
John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you…. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 God “hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper...”
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon Him: for He careth for you.”