Picture
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night clasped in the bony arms of worry. Worry about my future and whether I will find an agent for my current book, worry about my friends’ and siblings health and my own, worry about the radiation in those airport scanners, worry about just when deranged government spending will send the economy bucking and plunging once again, and the over-arching worry about a world going into a moral death spiral, a world whose only thought of God is to mock those who believe in Him. These days, it seems everyone is worried about their health and losing their jobs and their homes; indeed, the nation is awash in a tsunami of anxiety.

Worry has become so much a way of life that many actually thought that a vanished people who worshipped jaguars and ripped out still-beating human hearts had the inside track on the very date the world would end. More recently, fear that a rogue asteroid would hit our earth gripped the news talkers, who generously spread the anxiety far and wide.

Christians by and large escape the end-of –the-world fussing and fretting. For us, God’s plan is laid out in John’s Revelation and it doesn’t involve Aztecs or asteroids. But Christians are susceptible to every other flavor of worry, even though the Bible instructs us not to go there. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus  says, “do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25  Well, yes and no. Jesus then points out that the birds don’t sow or reap, and yet “your heavenly Father feeds them.” Matt. 6:26.  But that’s little consolation to us humans; for the birds, the great outdoors is one big free all-you-can-eat buffet while we must pay for our groceries. Besides, a bird’s brain is too tiny to squeeze in worry while God gave us these huge imaginations so we can envision epic calamity with each new day’s dawn.

Jesus himself, being human, worried when He prayed on the Mount of Olives before facing His fate on the cross. Luke tells us that as He agonized, “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44.  An angel came from heaven to strengthen Him, and He prayed even harder.

Worrying comes from an inability to trust God to provide and care for us as He has promised. Worry is a test of whether we believe God is who He says He is – whether we really buy that the promises of God are absolute and immutable. If we believe He loves us as He says He does, to worry is basically to doubt the word of our Creator.  Jesus finally said, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42.

But overcoming this very human tendency to anxiety isn’t easy. When I worry about how to banish worry, I find that reading the Psalms helps. Most of them were written by David, a national hero who was hunted nearly to extinction by the very king whose bacon he saved, and then by his own rotten turncoat son. I think of how hard it must have been for David in his misery  to believe that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Romans 8:28   Yet even as David cries out to his Lord in  despair, he can’t stop thanking and praising God though he’s facing life-threatening danger that most of us will never see. Each of us can find many things small and great to thank God for every day, and as we praise Him for these blessings we will find our worry fading.

We can also tune our hearts to recognize those God Says Hi moments that are little sticky notes of encouragement from the One who says He will never leave us or forsake us. It may be a sky suddenly spanned by a double rainbow, or a neighbor at the door with a loaf of banana bread when you’ve been feeling down, or a phone call from an employer you thought had forgotten all about you. The more we thank Him, the more He will reveal these sweet surprises that say, “I’m here with you – don’t worry.”

But the best salve for worry may be prayer, just as Jesus found. We can pray for God to lift the burden of anxiety and stress and to help us to trust wholly in Him, at the same time confessing how difficult that really is. We can know that God appreciates our candor – after all, He already knows what we’re thinking—and stands ready to help.

Now when I wake up in the dark, instead of ticking through my anxious to-do list, I pray for God to release the worry and give me His peace. And most of the time He carries me away to dreamland.


What do you do to conquer worry? 

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. John 14:1.          


 


Comments

02/21/2013 12:12

Joy, I so agree that worry is so rampant that we probably don't even realize its full effect. I had to chuckle 'cuz I'm scheduled to give a talk on worry (more like how to not be worried) next month and I asked if I could switch the topic to something else. "Nope," they said. Sounds like you're getting me started on a path I'm apparently supposed to be walking now. Thanks!

Reply
02/21/2013 15:11

Thanks Stacy -- good luck with that talk --maybe start with the great anecdote you shared here!

Reply
Sharen Watson
02/21/2013 15:53

Wise words infused with the reality of what we all face, Joy. I just recently went through a time of high anxiety. My mom passed, and I fell apart emotionally, but also became very anxious about my own health. She passed so suddenly of cancer, becoming systematic only a few weeks before passing. After a few doctor appointments and tests of my own, which all revealed nothing of consequence, I still struggled to find peace about my physical body. Prayer, a constant, soothed for moments, but then I found myself reeling once again in fear and anxiety.

Yes, we're all only human, so I'm sure I'll encounter these feeling again, but for the time being (and with the passage of time), peace prevails. A peace I don't take lightly, but thank God with every breath I take.

Prayer and Scripture... musts for this battle-weary, still grieving heart. Yet, the joy of the Lord is my strength. And the soothing words of family and friends bubble smiles and warmth in me.

Thank you for sharing, Joy! Hugs from TX!

Reply
02/26/2013 11:28

Sharen, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom and your own health problems. ( I just saw your message) How devastating for you -- all at once too. And for your wonderful family. Pls remember in your grief and trouble that you are such a very special child of God -- you have led so many, including me, to a closer walk with him, through WFTJ and all that you do. I do hope you know this and that knowing your deep partnership with our Lord is constant and true will uplift you always. Many thanks and blessings, Joy

Reply



Leave a Reply

    Picture

    Joy Overbeck says hi !

    I'm a Colorado-based journalist and author who has written articles for national mags like Redbook, Reader's Digest, Parents, TV Guide, Cosmopolitan, Health and others, as well as local pubs like 5280 Magazine, Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine, LUXE, Vail Valley Magazine, and others. I've also authored three books, two of them humor books published by Pocket Books, Simon&Schuster. I have a couple of horses and ex-husbands, a lovely cat, and a huge curiosity about God and politics, all the stuff we're not supposed to talk about.

    I'm currently working on a lively book about much-misunderstood Christianity, the fat kid on the playground who's always getting beaten up by those cool atheists in their designer shades.

    You can read some of my award-winning magazine articles at:

    www.joyoverbeck.com

    I also blog on politics and issues in the headlines at:
    www.mycoloradoview.com

    PLEASE CLICK THE RSS FEED BUTTON BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE -- I POST WEEKLY
    THANKS!

    Archives

    April 2014
    January 2014
    October 2013
    April 2013
    March 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013
    December 2012
    July 2012
    June 2012
    May 2012
    April 2012
    March 2012
    February 2012
    January 2012