The Truth About Worry

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If there is one skill I have developed in life to the point where I could probably be regarded as an expert, it is definitely the art of worrying.  I think I may have some natural skill in this area, but it has also taken years of practice to reach the level I am at today.

It’s a skill that is useful in almost any situation, and I have found it helpful for several reasons:

  1. Worry keeps us focussed on what is important.  Obviously imagining worst case scenarios for the future is much more helpful than focussing on what’s happening here and now.
  2. Worry is taking control.  It’s doing something productive about the situation.
  3. Worry makes a difference.  If we didn’t worry about these things, then surely they would be more likely to happen.  Plus, if we think about all the possible outcomes and how we would deal with them, then we’re ready for anything.  (The fact that few of them are ever going to happen is irrelevant.)
  4. Worry is necessary because if we don’t worry about these things then who else is going to deal with them?  God has enough on his plate.  Why would he bother with our little problems?  Why would he even bother with our big problems when there are so many other people in the world?
  5. Worry sets a good example to non-Christians.  It shows them how the Christian life should be and makes them want that for themselves.

Of course, I don’t really believe any of that…

…except sometimes I do…

Not in my head, but my actions reveal what I sometimes believe in my heart.  After all if I truly rejected all of these thoughts, then I wouldn’t worry.

And I do.  As I said, I’m pretty good.

I need to take a step back and remind myself of the truth:

Worry distracts us from what is important.  It takes our focus away from the present and it steals our joy.  As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Worry is pointless.  Sometimes it feels better than doing nothing.  It can feel like we’re taking control of a situation, but actually any control we gain is only an illusion.   Corrie Ten Boom describes worry as “a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.”  

Worry changes nothing.   Jesus asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”  (Matthew 6:27)   Answer: Of course not.  Worry alters our emotional state (and not in a good way), but it does nothing to change the situation.  It is a waste of time.

Worry is unnecessary because God is in control.  He sees us, he cares for us and he has power to act in our situations.  “Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”  (Matthew 6:26)  Nothing we face is too little for God to care about, or too big for him to deal with.  If we truly believe that God is looking after us, why would we need to worry?

Worry is a bad witness to non-Christians.  By worrying we are thinking and acting like unbelievers.  Why would they be attracted to that?  If we spend our time worrying and fretting it’s understandable that they would question whether our faith in God makes any difference at all.  “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.”  (Francis Chan)

Looking at these truths, the answer seems obvious: we should stop worrying, though if you’re anything like me, that is easier said than done.  However as I try to stop practicing my “skill” in this area there are some steps I am finding helpful:

If there’s something genuinely productive you can do about your worry, then do it.  That may seem obvious, but sometimes worry is so much of a default for me that I will worry as a first response, even when there is something I could actually do to deal with the situation.

Focus on God.  Remind ourselves of who he is- his love, his power, his sovereignty.  If we focus on our worries they can become overwhelming, but if we focus on God, we remember that he is more than able to deal with our concerns.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3)

Instead of worrying, pray.  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)  Notice that promise of peace again!  And if think your worry is too small to bother God with, then here’s some more advice from Corrie Ten Boom: “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”

Surrender it to God.  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)  As Elsa would say, “Let it go!”  We don’t need to carry these heavy burdens by ourselves.  God is longing for us to come to him, hand these things over to him and let him take them from us.

And just imagine what a difference it could make- to our emotional state, to our productivity and to our witness- if we were really to grasp this, to leave our worries with God, and to live as Jesus commanded, trusting him to fulfill his promises: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  (Matthew 6:33)

             Holly Barrett

 

 

 

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19 thoughts on “The Truth About Worry

  1. I love how you’ve laid this all out in black and white, friend. Worry stirred and shaken leads to fear which leads to anxiety which leads to panic.

    Not a happy, healthy scenario, yet many of us seem to go there, almost by default.

    Thank you for these healing, hope-filled steps …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is amazing how quickly worry can spiral out of control. Even though we know the results are not good it’s hard not to go there sometimes. It definitely helps to be intentional about dealing with things differently.

      Like

  2. Thank you for showing us both sides of worry. I tend to choose the top set of ideas about worry too often. I know in my head that God is in control but then totally forget during the stress of worry. Reading through how worry really is not necessary because we have God is something I will need to do over and over to let it sink in. Thank you for your words today!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mary. It’s something I need to read and write and remind myself of time and time again. Otherwise worry can easily take over and blind us to the truth.

      Like

  3. I love this encouragement to focus on God, Carly. I am a professional worrywart by default, so it’s good for me to be reminded of these truths. I’m still a work-in-progress in surrendering all burdens to God. I love the photo. It’s so accurate of what worry does to us, isn’t it? Imagine how much lighter our loads would be if we leave the burdens to God! Blessings and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Trudy. It seems like a lot of us struggle with this. Even though we know we can give our burdens to God it is far too easy to default to carrying them ourselves. The picture does sum up that feeling well. Blessings and hugs to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Carly, what a beautiful post, from the opening picture to the end. That picture so perfectly portrays what worry actually does in our lives. I still have to remind myself often that it does nothing positive, that in truth worry is the opposite of trusting God.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s part of being human to worry especially for our loved ones.
    But it is mentioned in the Bible that we shouldn’t. God knows our tendency and He knows how to comfort us. He’s awesome! So is this post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carly, you had me “worried” at first as I read the opening lines here, then I smiled in recognition of where you were going with this topic – ha ha! As a fellow ‘expert’, I know all too well how deleterious worry can be to our bodies and minds. It’s so insidious and hard to break free from. The image above really helps put the enormous weight of it into perspective. That’s a heavy load and soul burden God never intended us to carry. He intends for us to live lightly and freely in His gentle rhythms of grace.
    I was reading an article on casting your cares this morning, and it suggested we outsource our worries – meaning that we delegate them to someone else. That Someone is none other than the Son of God Himself, our Chief burden-bearer. Thanks for this helpful reminder. Great post! Bless you, friend. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry if I “worried” you, Joy! 🙂 Writing it like that helped me see how pointless worry is and that it really doesn’t achieve anything worthwhile.
      It is hard to let go of though. I like the idea of “outsourcing our worries”. God can definitely deal with the burdens a lot better than we can. Thanks for your encouragement today.

      Liked by 1 person

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