“Do not worry about anything.” Wow, this seems like a very hard command, seeing that we are such weak and frail people and therefore prone to worry. Sometimes worry is such an automatic response that we don’t even realize we are doing it until someone points it out to us. For many of us worry has become a habit, even a way of living, that needs to be broken. But how do we kill worry?
We know that worry brings nothing but wretchedness into our lives. It doesn’t remove or lighten our burden, it only makes them heavier and harder to carry. It does not brighten our day, it brings darkness and gloom. It does not give peace--it leaves us restless and tired. There isn’t one good thing that comes from worry which is why there are no exceptions to the command. On top of this it is sin.
Here’s the thing; as much as I want quick fixes, there is no quick fix for learning not to worry. Overcoming worry is a process, and it’s going to take time and work. Seeing that it is January it would be great to dedicate this year to learning how to walk away from worrying.
Here are few things we can do when worry gets its clammy hands on our hearts.
1. Know the God to whom you belong
Do we really know the character of God? Is he all-powerful? Is his love all consuming? Is he truthful in all things? Is he in control of all things? It’s not enough to say “yes” here, we must believe these truths--rest in them. Do we know how these truths intersect with and make sense of every situation in our lives? One step in overcoming worry is committing ourselves to studying every facet of God’s character and applying it to our lives.
2. Pray, and keep praying
The answer to our anxious thoughts is found on our knees. This may seem very unexciting, but when we pray we are approaching the throne of God, drawing near to him for help in our time of need. We are speaking to Jesus, our High Priest and intercessor. We have his full and undivided attention and he already knows our situation much, much better than we know. He is ready to help (Heb. 4: 14-16).
And when you pray don’t just list off the things you are concerned about, but talk them through, explain your concerns and feelings. Let him know your struggles and plead for his peace and strength.
In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Phil 4:6
There is a promised attached to this assuring us that when we pray in earnest we will receive the peace of God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7
3. Know your position as God’s redeemed
Do we know the position that we have in the kingdom of God? Do we really know what it means to be chosen, adopted, and sealed? Do we understand all that is entailed with being a child of the Most High God? The more we understand who we are and what we have in Jesus the more we realize we have nothing to worry about.
4. Study Philippians, or even memorize it
Though written in a prison, the book of Philippians is a very cheerful and encouraging book. J.R. Miller says that the words found in Philippians are “golden words for all believers.” If we are prone to worry this will prove be a good book to read, study, and even memorize.
5. Change your thinking
When we worry we are often thinking about all the “what ifs” our situations could produce. But “what ifs” are not real or true. As Shakespeare said, “fears may be liars.” Most of our worries are false and dishonorable. We need to focus not only on what is true, but also on what is good. In the midst of all the hard, sad, depressing, and scary situations in life we really need to train our minds to see the right things.
Phil 4 tell us to think on things that are true, noble, right and pure. We are to focus on things that are lovely, admirable and praiseworthy. Sometimes our situations are so hard that the only lovely and praiseworthy place to set our eyes is Jesus. He must always be before us so that when we look at our circumstances we look at them through the love, strength and power of Jesus.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit.
6. Cultivate faith
We must cultivate faith. Not blind faith in the unknown, but faith that knows the character and promises of God, faith that rests on the life and works of Jesus.
We say and sing that Christ is our solid rock. If he is then our footing is sure. If Christ is our solid rock then nothing can shake us.
Whether it’s coming together with other believers on Sunday morning to worship our risen Lord, or simply putting on worship songs in our homes, lifting our hearts to God in worship will also lift our countenance and confidence. Christ-centered worship will point us to the cross where everything we will ever need was purchased at a very dear price, and also to the resurrection where life was won for all who believe.
To help fight back worry listen to and sing some good worship music that lauds the character of God and the work of Christ on our behalf.
“The heart needs to be more occupied with those things which will cause him to bring his "harp" into use, which will put a song into his mouth, which will send him on his way rejoicing. But where are such things to be found? Not in the doings of the creature, not in the achievements of art and science, not in any of the productions of man. No, we must look elsewhere, for that which will deliver us from gloom and despondency, "Set your affection on things that are above not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). A.W. Pink
The truth is we will not banish worry forever, but we can get to a point where worry does not overtake our hearts. Where we are able to see the signs of worry creeping into our lives and crush it under gospel feet. It won’t be easy, but with God all things are possible.
(Click here for Part 1)
Some books on the subject:
Running Scared by Ed Welch
Respectable Sins Jerry Bridges
Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and Confidence by