Worry has plagued mankind since Eve worried if she should have taken the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.
And not much has changed to this day. We worry about our families, our jobs, our futures, and our eternal lives. We worry when a child is sick, if elderly parents are all right, when a mate is late coming home from work, if our teens will keep their curfews, not to mention the worry of drugs and alcohol. Will the car last another year? Can we pay the house payment (or rent)? Will the boss (or teacher) balk at permission to attend the Feast of Tabernacles?
You name it, we worry about it.
Worry is something we all battle, especially after we begin our Christian walk.
Let’s keep in mind there is a difference between worry and concern. Our great God does not worry, but He does have concern. He was concerned when physical Israel was coming out of Egypt that they might become afraid and want to return to Egypt, even after 430 years in slavery (Exodus 13:17-22); and He is concerned today as spiritual Israel comes out of “spiritual” Egypt (Luke 18:6-8).
Concern is a good thing. Concern is caring, involvement, interest, and engagement.
Worry is distress, trouble, vexation, and anxiety—distress of mind. Worry is mental pain, but it is unnecessary and curable. The cure lies in change, the change that begins at baptism and continues until that final change that Job (Job 14:14-15) and Paul (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) spoke about.
That change leads us to have our minds on godly things. At baptism with the laying on of hands, we receive God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and worry are not compatible; one stays and the other has to go. It is our right and responsibility to make the decision of who stays and who goes.
When we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 5:2), we have the power to overcome any problem of worry in our lives.
Do we ever think about the fact that worry is a kind of sin, as it is caused by a lack of faith in God? The aged apostle John wrote in Revelation 21:8 that the fearful and unbelieving will have their place in the lake of fire with other sinful persons.
A great place to start in our “war” with worry is to have a prayer partner. In the world of televangelism that means to sign up and send lots of money so the “Lord” can start to bless you. But the best prayer partner (Jesus) is available and He’s free of charge. Start each day (before your feet hit the floor) with words to the effect, “Thank you for another day of life; thank you for your truth; thank you for calling me to your family as a firstfruit; and there’s nothing that you and I cannot handle today together.” Make Jesus your prayer partner.
Then we need to build our faith and trust in the ETERNAL. And this doesn’t mean merely believing in Him, but actually believing Him. Billions (including Satan and his fellow demons) believe in God, but do they truly believe Him—that He will deliver what He has promised and pledged.
We sing in one of our hymns, “Be not dismayed what e’er betide, God will take care of you.” Do we truly believe that? Jesus addressed His very disciples’ unbelief in Matthew 17:14-21, where they were unable to cure a man troubled with demons. After Jesus takes care of the healing, He scolds them for their lack of faith and goes on to tell them that with faith they could even move mountains. Was this merely metaphor to overstate a lesson? Maybe. Maybe not. Oftentimes problems and worries in our lives seem like mountains.
There was a time in my life that I faced a “mountain.” I wrote of it in the INTERNATIONAL NEWS article “Facing Your Red Sea” (Volume 22, Number 3). Briefly, I faced a crisis of distress in doctrinal changes in my former church, problems on the job, and a prognosis of terminal illness for both my mother and me. At the nadir of my life, I cried aloud to God, “Father in heaven, I can’t take anymore; please help me!” What I experienced was a never-before and never-since feeling of calm. It was as if someone had put an arm around my shoulder and said, “Bob, it’s going to be okay!”
I related how I was led to the Church of God International, where I now have the priceless privilege of serving in Christ’s ministry, how my disability sailed right through, and both my mother and I were healed. Talk about moving mountains!
What I had experienced (completely unaware of at the time) was Psalm 34:4-8 in action. The Good News version renders it thusly: “I prayed unto the LORD and He answered me, He freed me from all my fears. I will never be disappointed. He saves me from all my troubles. His angel guards me, rescues me from danger, find out for yourself how good the LORD is. Happy are those who find safety with HIM!”
When we totally trust and place our lives in His hands, we can literally, as did Peter until he took his eyes off Jesus, walk on water.
Satan will use worry to defeat us. He always sends negative vibes and influences; God sends the positives. Contrast the gifts of God: faith, hope, and love, with Satan’s “gifts”: worry, despair, and hatred.
If we say we cannot defeat worry, we certainly won’t. But when we see ourselves as winners and victors, we cannot lose the war with worry.
Another good tool to utilize is to meditate on all the blessings God has poured out upon us by merely being born in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, or Australia.
Worry not only troubles us mentally and spiritually, but it can even wreak havoc on our physical health. Check the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs (3:5-8; 12:25; 14:30; 15:30; 17:22).
There is an account in Isaiah 41:10-14 where God promises to always help us and hold our hand. In the 1965 film Dr. Zhivago, Yuri’s daughter relates how she, her mother, and her father were running after an earthquake, and she said, “My daddy let go of my hand and I was lost.” Her interrogator, an uncle (knowing his brother Yuri), said that was someone else. “Your daddy would have never let go of your hand.” And our Daddy will never let go of our hand, unless we pull it away.
Does God concern Himself with our worries? Look how He intervened and even stopped the rotation of the solar system for a full day to give Israel the victory over its enemy (Joshua 10); parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14); delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abeddnego from their woes (Daniel 3); turned the lions in the den with Daniel into pussy cats (Daniel 6); brought about all the miracles of Jesus’ ministry.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to bring our worries to Him, as His yoke is easy, His burden is light, and He promises rest—relief from worry.
Moses, in Psalm 94 (Good News) says, “Whenever I am anxious and worried, You comfort me and make me glad….”
Many of the long-time members of the church will remember the almost obsession with a physical place of safety (I think some are still aiming for Petra), totally overlooking the worry-free solution in Psalm 91. (Please take the time to read it.) We’re invited to hide our worries and seek safety under the same covering wings and feathers He offered while He walked the earth (Matthew 23:27; Luke 13:34).
Another of the old precious hymns of the late 1800s contains the words, “If you trust Him and never doubt, He will always help you out; take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”
Yet one more, this one from the 1970s, prodded to “Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee….”
Place these six encouraging scriptures in your war-against-worry arsenal (all quoted from the Good News version):
2 Peter 2:9: “And so the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials.” (Note, it does say godly people.)
Isaiah 26:3-4: “You, LORD, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you. Trust the LORD, forever, He will always protect you.”
John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish and you shall have it.”
Philippians 4:13: “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.”
Psalm 4: “Answer me when I pray, O God, my defender, When I was in trouble, You helped me.”
1 Peter 5:7: “Leave all your worries with Him, He cares for you.”
One final quote, this one from a world-famous television personality, Barney the Dinosaur: “DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!”
By Bob Swimm