What problem has you up at night fretting about how to fix it? What thoughts keep tumbling around and around in your head? What do you worry about?
The most debilitating thing about worry is it keeps me stuck in an endless cycle of rehashing and rehashing whatever problem I am thinking about. I hate being stuck so that makes me worry all the more.
If we had no problems, we’d never worry. Worry begins with problems we are trying to solve but can’t.
What Is Worry?
The Cambridge dictionary definition of worry is “to think about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy or frightened.” It’s really a self-inflicted form of torment that breeds excessive thoughts of a current or future event and its outcome.
Worry doesn’t get us anywhere. It only makes us feel worse and doesn’t change anything. It is the precursor to stress and other negative emotions. So why do we worry?
Many times we start out by trying to figure out how to solve the problem. When we can’t figure it out, the best solution is to do research or leave it until God gives us wisdom and insight. I find this usually works well for me, unless I’m tired. Then it seems like torture to even think about an unsolved issue.
There are many things people worry about. The top things are money, the future, jobs, and job security, relationships, health, failure, the death of a loved one, our performance, what others think about us and so much more.
Worry can harm us mentally and physically. Mentally it can lead to anxiety, fear and depression. Physically it can elevate stress levels, lead to exhaustion, and weaken immune systems. Maybe the biggest thing worry does to us is to keep us from living our lives as whole, healthy, and happy people. When we are worrying, we are missing all the great things happening in our lives all around us.
We are by nature problem-solvers. When we recognize a problem, we want to find a solution. That doesn’t just go for problems we have, but for problems our friends and families have as well. The more we have a stake in the problem, the more we want to solve it. We may know we don’t have the solution and can’t figure it out. When we keep thinking about it over and over, it becomes worry.
Why We Shouldn’t Worry
It doesn’t have to be a big huge hairy problem. We can worry about anything. We can even worry about the basics. That’s one reason why Jesus gave his disciples and us these words to live in Matthew 6:25-34 NIV.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:25-34 NIV).
In the Message version that last verse says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Is Worry Worth It?
Is there anything worth worrying about? According to Psychology Today, researchers t Penn State University conducted a study focused on worries that could be tested in the 30-day period. For instance, “I will fail my math exam tomorrow” would be testable, whereas “I’ll develop cancer at some point in my lifetime” would not. The average person reported three to four testable worries per day.
The result? A whopping 91 percent of their worries were false alarms. That shows me that only about 1 in 10 things we stress about is worth any time at all.
Worry will keep us from doing what God wants us to do because our minds are so busy trying to fix things that we can’t concentrate on what is right in front of us. This is why the enemy of our souls is always trying to throw our minds into a tailspin of worry.
What the Enemy Wants
Our enemy wants our minds so full of worry that we can’t concentrate on the truths of God. We eat to calm ourselves instead of applying this great truth. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 NLT).
All we need is the Holy Spirit’s goodness, peace, and joy to counteract our worries, not food. Our brains need peace. Our emotions need peace. Even our wills need peace. Our wills are where are decisions are made and worrying negates any decision we even try to make.
We have to realize that all our worrying doesn’t fix anything. Most of them never come to pass. All worry does is steal any peace we once had.
Jesus told His disciples shortly before His crucifixion, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:26-27 NKJV).
The Cure for Worry
Paul explained the cure for worry in Philippians 4:6-7. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of worrying, we need to pray about whatever problem we have or someone else has that we are concerned about. When we pray about it, we must tell God what we need. However, we don’t stop there. We thank Him for all He has already done in our lives. Then, we will have the ultimate experience of His all-encompassing peace.
For more information on this subject, listen to Why Worry, episode 160 of Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast.