I have learned that worry is not worth the mental energy it takes. It won't change anything, it won't make anything better and while it may seem to provide some comfort is thinking through a plan or scenario, it really only takes your focus off what's necessary.
But I admit, when my boy is gone from me. I miss him terribly and worry creeps in. When he's not with me, the heartache is real and I must constantly choose not to worry. I know I cannot be with him every moment and time away is healthy, for both of us, but the strings of my heart are pulled to their max if I let them.
Of course, it never fails that child tragedy stories seem top fly in my face making my worry seem all the more legitimate. Maybe it's because he's my only child, maybe it's because when he's here I long for calm and silence but when I get it, I regret it. Maybe it's still a stronghold, albeit small, that I haven't recognized.
Whatever the case, I miss my baby and times of productivity end up as times of spiritual battles. I know it's not wrong to miss my child, it's normal and natural, but sometimes, the worry consumes me. When worry beings to take over, I know I need to get back in line with truth.
Why Worry Doesn't Help
Three years ago Wyatt spent the night with my mom like he's done countless times before. It was a beautiful sunny September day when my phone rang. While exploring a new park, Wyatt was bitten in the face by a dog. The 45-minute drive to the hospital was likely the longest drive I'll even endure. Brad drove, I prayed, called a friend to pray and prayed with Wyatt while he was attended to in the ambulance (a ride he later told me was pretty neat).
I don't recall intensely worrying about Wyatt that weekend. But if I had, would worrying have changed anything? I grew up thinking worry was responsible. Adults had to worried about things so they could fix them because when you worried it showed care, responsibility, and maturity. It's how you spend your mental energy.
Did you catch the lie? There are several of them:
- Worry doesn't make you responsible
- Worry doesn't make you mature
- Worry takes your focus off Truth
- Worry is a distraction
Personal fears and insecurities make worry a safe place because worry is false control. It allows you to think through things in an attempt to control situations you have no control over. Worry doesn't work because we aren't in control, even when we think we are.
What Does Work
God knew troublesome thoughts and worry would come to us. He gave us answers, we need only accept them and apply them to our lives. It isn't a quick fix, it's truth. As new creations in Christ, we no long have to live with the old man, the man that worries, fears and doubts.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
~ Philippians 4:4-9
I want to unpackage this scripture a bit.
Paul says it twice. I think he's trying to get the point across. We must choose to rejoice in all situations. We rejoice because we know what the Lord has done before and we have faith in what He will do so we rejoice in all things. When we rejoice we take the focus off the problem (real or imagined) and put it back on the One who is is in control of all things.
Verse five tells us to let our gentleness be evident (obvious) to all. What a great witness it is to other when through trial and yuck we can rejoice (verse four) and remain gentle. What does this gentleness look like?
The Greek word here for gentle is “epieikeia” meaning reasonableness, equity; gentleness, mildness. It has been translated several ways:
- Sweet reasonableness
- The patient mind.
Does worry make you patient, soft or reasonable? In my experience, it makes me irritable, hard and unreasonable.
Anxious for Nothing
There's another great truth in verse six where Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing. We are told not to be anxious, that means we have a choice not to be anxious. Since it is a choice He gives us strength to choose not to worry and be anxious if we seek Him.
Prayer and Thanksgiving
In every situation pray. Wow – in every situation we are to pray. Every. Small, medium or large situations He wants us to pray, He loves when we pray. We thank Him because we know He is in control and He can turn any ugly situation into a victory.
The Peace of God
In verse seven Paul says “and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is what keeps us out of What If Land. Have you ever been to What If Land? It's an awful place. The food is terrible, the hallways are filled with unimaginable pictures of things that will probably never happen and the beds are lumpy. Stay out of What If Land, instead, go to The Promise Land it is peaceful, flowing with milk and honey and you'll find rest.
In the final two verses above Paul tells us, that there is peace available. This peace does not come from worry. It comes from following the examples Paul has given. In context of that time, Paul is being bold and saying, “Look at me, see how my life has changed, yours can too.” He is pointing people to Christ by the testimony of his life. Paul found peace, strength, boldness and wisdom through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He also gives us example of what we should think about.
“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These things do not bring worry, they bring peace.
Life on this earth is not always happy-go-lucky. The choice we have is to focus on and worry about what did, has or might happen or we can choose to think biblically.
I encourage you to read this passage in a few different versions of the bible. Ask the Lord to solidify it in your heart and your mind so that when worry comes you can combat it with living truth; The Word. Bible Gateway is a good resource of bible versions online as is Biblehub.