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.