Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Don't Worry About A Thing

It is very tempting to jump into the waters of worry.  Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in worry and don't remembering choosing it.  It seems like worry just happens to us, like the weather, or an illness.

Worry is a miserable state.  It can be worse than an illness.  It is a mental illness.  But it affects more than the mind.  It causes suffering from head to toe.  It can lead to weight loss (no appetite).  If you're like me and wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, then worry probably has the opposite effect on you -- weight gain caused by overindulging on your comfort foods.  Worry can lead to substance abuse, or sexual immorality, or any number of sinful behaviors in our attempt to find relief from the misery of anxiety.  Worry can cause anxiety attacks -- shortness of breath, uncontrollable shaking, and sleeplessness.  Worry can actually drive you to the point where you need medication just to function.  Worry steals your joy.  It leads to depression -- chronic sadness and gloominess.  Worry is a form of soul self-mutilation that takes a terrible toll on your mind, body, and relationships. 

Fundamentally worry is a distraction.  And that's the biggest reason it is a vice.  Worry is a hyper-focus on the negative that might occur that distracts you from today -- today's responsibilities; today's choices; today's opportunities; today's joys.  In essence, worry stops you from living -- truly living.  You become a spiritual zombie.  On the outside you appear to be alive, but on the inside you are dead.  Your mind is not there.  It is somewhere else.  It is in the future.  It is stuck on "what if?"  Worry is a sin because if you are distracted by what might happen tomorrow, then you cannot focus on being the person God wants you to be today.

Worry is a choice.  That's the good news.  As Christians the Lord commands us not to worry (Matthew 6:25, 31; Philippians 4:6).  That means we don't have to worry.  We don't have to be spiritual zombies.  We don't have to live in misery.

Why don't we we have to worry?  Because God cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  He promises to provide for us (Philippians 4:19).  He promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). 

So how do we repent of worry?  If you've every tried to stop worrying, then you know it is not easy.  In fact, you may even think it is impossible.  But I assure you it is not.  If the Bible is God's word (and it is!), then we can choose not to worry.  How?

First, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  Immerse yourself in God -- Bible study, prayer, other spiritual disciplines, serving God, reaching the lost, building your church, serving people in need, repenting of sin, cultivating the virtues.  Rather than trying to stop worrying, shift your focus to actually doing something.  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Stop worrying and start working -- for God.  Get so busy doing the Lord's work that you don't have time to worry!  God promises that if you will seek Him first, "all these things will be provided for you."  “The result of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quiet confidence forever. Then my people will dwell in a peaceful place, in safe and secure dwellings (Isaiah 32:17-18).”

Second, give your worries to God in prayer (4:6-7).  If you are worried, stop obsessing and start conversing -- with your Heavenly Father.  Tell Him your fears.  Tell Him your worries.  Tell Him what you need.  Get alone for an extended time with God.  Go for a drive by yourself and cry out to God.  And don't just do this once; do it every time you are tempted to worry. 

Third, give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7).  Rather than just focusing on the negative that might happen, focus on all the good that has happened and is happening.  In prayer, count your blessings.  Compare yourself to those who are much worse off than you.  Tell the truth -- it could be worse.  The promise for those who pray and give thanks is amazing:  "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Fourth, immerse yourself in God's word.  Stop stressing and start studying.  Stop worrying and start meditating -- on Scripture.  When you are tempted to worry, get out your Bible, and start reading.  I especially enjoy the Psalms and the New Testament epistles.  Feast on the Bible.  Go deep.  Do a word study.  Pick a topic, perhaps related to what you are worried about, and look up every verse in the Bible on it.  Write down what you learn.  And then share it with the rest of us.  "Abundant PEACE belongs to those who love your instruction; nothing makes them stumble (Psalm 119:165)."

God loves you.  He's got you.  He's going to take care of you.  He's going to work it all together for your good.  So don't worry.  Seek first.  Pray.  Give thanks.  Study.

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