Worry is one of those things that controls you without asking permission. Without notice, it creeps into your thoughts and makes decisions for you. One thought can turn into a scenario, which can turn into borderline-belief, and before you know it you think your child died because they didn’t answer the phone when you called or text you back an hour ago. You think your parents might be on the brink of divorce because you just heard about a couple who got divorced after 30 years of marriage.
Worry can cause difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and stress, which can cause headaches, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and a whole slew of other things. It all starts in our minds, when we let our thoughts run wild. Of course it would be so beneficial to our health and sanity if we could teach ourselves to worry less, but have you ever thought that worrying might be wrong?
My devotional this morning in “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young, states it so clearly, from the Lord’s perspective:
“My Presence with you is a promise, independent of your awareness of Me. Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is worry. My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life. However, worry is a form of unbelief; it is anathema to me. Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.”
I have never thought about God hating worry. A year ago I was just beginning to recognize it as something I should actively fight against and as a testament to my lack of trust in the Lord. I am thankful that mindset has taken root in me this past year, and that the Lord has begun to work some of that out of me.
I like to plan, as much in advance as possible. Part of this is simply my Type A personality, and that’s fine. We need some people like that in the world. But another part of it is because of worry. I worry that if I don’t plan, something will go wrong and cause disappointment or frustration, or – God forbid – might waste some time.
Ultimately we worry because we don’t believe God is who He says He is. We don’t believe He has complete control and is all-knowing. We don’t believe He loves us and will take care of us. We don’t believe His plan is perfect and sufficient. This is something even Jesus’ disciples, who were with Him in the flesh, struggled with.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'” Luke 12:22-26
Jesus was practical. We can’t do anything by worrying. It doesn’t help the situation, so why do it? I’ve had this realization too many times. I’m in a stressful situation, like running late to class, or am behind on a big project due the next day. I get to class out of breath and sweating, or I feel like I can do nothing but crash after I turn in the assignment. Then after it’s over, I look over and see that someone else just went through the exact same situation, but has a completely different demeanor. They nonchalantly walked in late to class, sat down and started working….they didn’t stress about what time it was while working on the project and continually calculate how late they would be up working. And it was fine. Then I think about how much better it would have felt to go back and do it over again with that mindset! Stop, and pray for help and peace. Then realize it’s not the end of the world. And move on.
I have a new strategy for when I’m running late, as long as it’s not like necessary-to-notify-supervisor kind of late. (Which happened just last week when I so conveniently left my phone at home on the way to work and had to turn around for an added 30 minutes to my 45 minute drive. I know, awesome.) Anyway, once I realize I’m going to be a few minutes late and there’s nothing else I can do about it, I just stop looking at the time. Knowing what minute it is and exactly how many minutes late I’m going to be is not going to change anything, and it just stresses me out way more than necessary.
I think worry is one of those “acceptable struggles” people feel just-vulnerable-enough to share in a small group when it’s time for prayer requests. We know we should try not to worry as much. We know it would be freeing to worry less and that God says we don’t need to. But it’s bigger than that…it’s not accepting the fullness of His promise to take care of us. And it is our futile attempt at trying to take on His role.
How much more filled with Christ and His joy we can be when we are worry-free! God does not promise we will not endure hard things. But that should not mean we stop believing who He is. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33