There are a lot of things in life that can plummet us into worry. I think the above graphic does a great job of describing all of those areas. Worry can consume our minds, captivate our thoughts and paralyze us in life. I believe that worry does not have to have the power that we give it in our lives. We write worry off like an emotion that we have no control over and that is a cop out for us not dealing with a very serious problem for our physical, spiritual and emotional health.
There is a popular expression that says, “Why worry when you can pray” and there is much truth to that. However, many times those kind of sayings come across as cute little platitudes but we aren’t really sure what to do with them. Pray? Okay. How? About what? For how long? I know one lady that says she spends hours in prayer asking God to help her with all of these worries she has. This is just my opinion, but if I spend hours still talking to God about the things that are worrying me, then I am still consuming my mind with the things that I am worrying about. I don’t think this is what God has in mind for us.
I am not an expert in anything, and I don’t pretend to be now, but I do have experience in opportunities to worry!
My paralysis and the lack of an official diagnosis as to why I became paralyzed, led to over 2 years of night times that begged me to lay there and worry all night long. At times, my health still gives me areas of concern and worry.
I am married. If you are married, there are many areas that could lead you to worry. Will my spouse be faithful? Will my spouse love me when I get old? Will my spouse die and I will be left alone?
I am a mom. How many of us are tempted to worry about our children? Why are they sick? What will they be when they grow up? Am I a good mom? Will they rebel? Will they serve God?
I am a Christian and I care much about my testimony and relationships. What do you do when people lie about you or misinterpret your motives? What if you are rejected by those who say they love you? What about false accusations about your character?
I am a Pastor’s wife. There are worries for your people that you love. There are worries that you will be judged by people who only know half of a story and you cannot share the rest. There are worries for those who are rejecting Christ.
Have I given you a panic attack yet?
What do we do with all of these areas that want to fill our minds with worry? Pray, yes, but I think there are some specific things we can do. If we will do these things, worry will have to take a back seat.
Step 1: Can I Change This Situation?
This is a good starting question to put our minds back where they belong. There is much in life we can and should change, but there are some things we absolutely cannot change. I cannot change that I am paralyzed so I don’t need to sit around and dwell on worrying about walking. I will just not give that a place in my mind. If it ever happens, that would be wonderful, but I am so not in control of that. I cannot change how long I will live or die. That is all up to God.
I cannot change the choices my hubby makes, I cannot change if my kids will live or die, I cannot change those who judge and mistreat me, I cannot make people love me and I cannot make people desire to serve Jesus. I can do my part and try to be a good wife, help my kids gain wisdom and understanding about wise choices, I can be a friend and try to build trust, and I should share Christ though my life and my words. But….I cannot change a heart.
If you cannot change it, then worrying about it is a complete waste of time.
Step 2: Is It True?
This is the second question I ask myself. If I start to worry that my health may not last or I may not live into old age, I ask, “Is it true? Is my health bad now? No. Am I dead yet? No. Then why are you worrying about what isn’t even true?” Good question!! Is my hubby alive? Are my kids healthy? Do they love Jesus today? Are the accusations true? Is that the kind of person you are? Are you off the deep end? Are you a bad testimony? Do our church people show us love or do we let one or two dictate our entire feelings about the whole? Ask yourselves questions about whatever it is you are worrying about and decide if you are worrying about something that is true, or about something you don’t ever want to be true. If it is true, then follow some of the other steps listed here, but if it is not true, you aren’t living in reality. Live in reality.
Can I say that again? Live in reality!
Step 3: How Does God Want Me To Handle Worry?
I do not believe this is where God will say, “Honey, I am here. I just want you to hide yourself away for hours and and cry and carry on. I will listen and then you will feel so much better.” Please do not misunderstand me. I believe in casting our cares upon the Lord and I have done that so many times I cannot count. But this is where we must be very careful. We are told to cast them, not woller in them! We are told to cast our cares upon the Lord! Not share them with him and come away from it all still worrying our heads off.
I don’t think God speaks in common phrases of today, but if He did, I can hear three popular phrases being told to us about worry.
1. Keep Calm
Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
2. Let It Go
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
3. Carry On
Jeremiah 17:8 “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”
My friend, worries are disabling. Don’t allow yourself to be crippled with worry. It does not have to be! Yes, pray! Pray and tell God your worries, ask Him to give you His strength to cast them on Him and then leave them there.
Praying about our worries is really a prayer that says, “God, these aren’t mine to handle. They are Yours.”
There is peace in that prayer!