September 10, 2005

Waging War against Worry

So many of my essays have sprung out of live conversations with people in my daily life; what happens is that I will stumble across some insight, either it will spring instantly out of the current conversation, or it will germinate in my mind for some time and then begin sprouting its branches in a few conversations along the way finally establishing a firm presence in a single conversation that then inspires the full fruit – an essay about some topic. This one has been germinating for quite some time. I hope it proves fruitful to more people than just me.

Worry, it is a plague. It works much like a cancer, it starts small and then spreads fast, often it is self-fulfilling, and always it is painful. Some people are pre-disposed to it, while others seem to have a natural immunity to it, yet all have to deal with it eventually. What is it? Well, one thing I am certain it is not is concern. Far too often, people mistakenly confuse worry as a sign of concern, and although the two often go together, maybe even one sprung out of the other, but for a certainty they are not the same. If worry was a sign of concern, would you then have to conclude that those people who do not worry do not care? I do not believe for a minute that worry is a requirement for concern. Many people face situations where they do not worry because they have faith in the outcome. If worry is not a sign of concern, then what is it? I believe that you will find worry is at its root, a lack of trust. You worry that your children will not do something stupid, you do not trust them. You worry that someone else will do something bad to them, you do not trust others. You worry that something outside the control of anyone will hurt them, you do not trust God. And, really, are not all three reasons the same at the core? You do not trust God. I like to read Philippians chapter 4 when I am faced with worry. I label it the “Worry Chapter” in my Bible. Let us look at what it says,

Philippians 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Here it tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always[s].” This is important because we always have reason to rejoice in Him, even when the world is doing us wrong and life just plain bites. Also because it reinforces that we are to be focused on the Person of Jesus Christ who is our Lord. Like Peter who sunk when he removed his gaze from Christ, we tend to sink into depression when we remove our eyes from our Lord and focus on the wind and waves of life.

After this exhortation to be constantly rejoicing in the Lord, Paul tells us to let our moderation be known unto all men. Why, because the Lord is at hand. How does this relate to worry? Have you not known those people whose emotions swing them from one extreme to another in a constant rollercoaster ride? One day they are on fire, the next depressed, later on they are discouraged, and after that worried, and then happy again. Oh, how distressing that must be, and what kind of example does it present to the world? How productive can you be for the Kingdom, if you are never sure what state you will be in tomorrow? Surely that makes things more difficult? And this is natural for some people, yet we are told to be marked by a degree of moderation, in an apparent emotional context. Could this be to create a witness? I believe so. For those who fit this description, take heart, for all is not lost, and you do not fight a losing battle!

Next it says be careful for nothing, or worry for nothing. That is a commandment. It is not an easy one to obey but here He gives us a strategy for sure victory, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.” Here, He says that when we are tempted to worry which is not a display of concern, but rather a sign of distrust: we are to pray. With Prayer and Thanksgiving we are to approach the Throne of Grace. We are to pray and bring God our concerns, tell Him what you are tempted to worry about, and then release them to His control. Ask for the strength to trust and then thank God for what He has done, for what He will do, and for what He is doing – namely the very thing that causes us to worry – and the Peace of God, which exceeds our comprehension, will keep our heart and our mind. That means protect it and comfort it. Then he goes beyond that by saying that not only are we not to worry, but we are to be proactive – a principle that many overlook in Scripture, we are to fill our minds with the positive. Truth, honesty, justice, purity, beauty, good reports, things of virtue and praise; these things should fill our mind and these are the things that we have learned and heard in Scripture.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

If Paul can be content in dire circumstances and still claim that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” then, we have no need to doubt ourselves and no need to doubt God who is the blessed controller of all things.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

And thus the promise is given. The Promise of Providence from an everlasting supply! From this we know that we shall never lack for anything that we may ever need. All we have to do is TRUST Him.

20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

And with that, I will leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul,

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Posted by GodzScout at September 10, 2005 12:03 AM

Worry is a great problem with me. I read the "worry chapter" all the time. My family labeled me the natural born worrier at a very young age. I give my "worries" to God; but haven't had success at keeping them from my thoughts. Maybe I am working too hard to do so. Still loving your thought provoking posts.

Posted by: Patsy at September 21, 2005 08:05 AM

don't we all

Posted by: Read at September 22, 2005 12:52 PM

I know I promised you a response, and I apologize for not getting that to you. Things have been crazy. But, I promise you are not out of my thoughts.

God bless, friend.

Posted by: Ash at September 24, 2005 12:17 AM

mei guan xi (no problems)

ni bu xuyao kuai dian (you do not need to hurry)

Shangdi Bao you ni (God bless you)

Posted by: Read at September 28, 2005 10:01 PM