I’ve been a little worried lately. OK, maybe more than a little. I admit it. Does that diminish my faith? I used to think so, but I don’t anymore.
Maybe worry isn’t all bad, at least for a bit.
But wait. Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to worry? It absolutely does. Scan the Psalms, Proverbs, or the New Testament words of Christ, and you will find tons of examples that say, “do not worry” (or “fret not” in older versions).
|Maybe worrying isn't all bad.|
But we do worry sometimes, don’t we?
I don’t think our worrying surprises God at all. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had a lot to say about worries (see Matthew 6:25-34). The Lord was fully aware that people would worry about life, food, clothing, and other daily concerns. He knew we would be concerned about our families, our friends, and the future. And He offered assurance.
Here’s an example:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV)
What worries rob you of your rest?
Maybe you face financial struggles, a troubling medical diagnosis, or a difficult relationship. Perhaps you are a parent, concerned about your kids. You may be disturbed by political, social, legal, or criminal crises.
I’m not talking here about ongoing clinically diagnosable anxiety disorders, panic attacks, or phobias, although I believe God can make a difference for us all. For the purposes of this post, I’m fighting in faith with the kind of periodic worries that tend to plague us during stressful seasons of life.
So I have to admit I have done a fair amount of fretting lately. But I don’t want to stay there indefinitely.
What happens when we camp out in fret-land?
Don’t we become restless? We lose sleep. We carry an extra emotional burden, until we give it over to God. It feels like we are carrying backpacks filled with heavy emotional rocks. That’s what the Apostle Peter was talking about, when he reassured believers about God’s care for us.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT)
Peter didn’t say, “Give all your worries and cares to God, if you ever happen to have any of those.” He assumed we would. But he pointed us to the answer.
Paul offered similar advice, including a hopeful note about how God can bring wholeness and peace to settle us down in our most worried seasons.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7. MSG)
God invites us to bring our concerns to Him, rather than brooding endlessly over them. And He doesn’t judge us when we come to Him with a big pile of worry rocks. It’s how we demonstrate our faith, declaring our trust in His care.
“Our Lord, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won’t let us fall.” (Psalm 55:22, CEV)
When we pitch our tents in the valley of worry, our thoughts tend to race ahead, uphill in every direction. We toss and turn in our beds. We grow distracted and anxious. We reload our backpacks with those stinking stones of stress. The King James Bible describes this so well, but includes a sweet description of how our loving God can bring us comfort in this distress.
“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19, KJV)
I love that. Lately, I have had a multitude of thoughts whirling in my head, especially in the wee hours of the night. But I am aiming to take those thoughts captive (see 2 Corinthians 10:5) and give them to God. Often, I find that I have to do that again and again and again. But I believe that process drives us to deeper faith.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)
So maybe worry isn’t all bad. If worry makes us care more and serve more and pray more, then maybe it can be a catalyst for change. Maybe it can lead us closer to the One who stands outside time and knows the future and truly loves us. Perhaps worry can lead us to genuine peace.
That’s no platitude, because it’s a gritty process.
In the meantime, I’m wrestling with worry. I want to become a prayer warrior, even though I know warriors are made in battles, not bliss. And freedom often comes after a fight.
Adapted by this use
from public domain artwork