What "Do not Worry" Sounds like to a Worrier
I come from a long line of worriers.
We’re kind of amazing at it, my family and I. Like professionals.
Worry (and its siblings, Fear and Anxiety) have followed me all my life.
It was normalized. And accepted. Even encouraged.
We passed around Xanax (kidding…kind of) and advice about how to avoid anything that may cause more fear, or bring more worry.
Taking risks was avoided at all costs, for fear that the consequences may be too great.
And I thought all of this was ok. That it was normal.
Until I met Jesus.
He has quite a bit to say on the subject.
What does Jesus say about worry?
“This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.” - Matthew 6:25-34 (The Passion Translation)
“He alone is my safe place; his wrap-around presence always protects me. For he is my champion defender; there’s no risk of failure with God. So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?” Psalm 62:2 (The Passion Translation) (David wrote this, not Jesus. But it’s still good.)
“Be on your guard! For there will be those who will betray you before their religious councils and brutally beat you with whips in their public gatherings. And because you follow me, they will take you to stand trial in front of rulers and even kings as an opportunity to testify of me before them and the unbelievers. So when they arrest you, don’t worry about how to speak or what you are to say, for the Holy Spirit will give you at that very moment the words to speak. It won’t be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father repeatedly speaking through you.” Matthew 10:17-20 (The Passion Translation)
“Don’t be afraid or intimidated by others, for God will bring everything out into the open and every secret will be told. What I say to you in the dark, repeat in broad daylight, and what you hear in a whisper, announce it publicly. Don’t be in fear of those who can kill only the body but not your soul. Fear only God, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. You can buy two sparrows for only a copper coin, yet not even one sparrow falls from its nest without the knowledge of your Father. Aren’t you worth much more to God than many sparrows? So don’t worry. For your Father cares deeply about even the smallest detail of your life.” Matthew 10:26-31 (The Passion Translation)
“Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? So if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?” Luke 12: 25-26 (The Passion Translation)
Do you see how clear the message is?
It’s been decided: Worry adds nothing and it’s GOT TO GO.
What has worry ever done for us?
It doesn’t provide. It doesn’t heal. It doesn’t add to our life.
It only steals. It steals the spotlight and holds us captive in our fear.
Worry places the focus on ourselves and says that what Jesus said, and what Jesus did, was not enough. That we must know better than Him how to fix our problems.
And the enemy loooooooves to keep us locked in this state of fear. He is pleased when our thoughts are consumed with anxiety about ourselves and our situations (because we then make ourselves useless in the Kingdom.) We are actually doing the enemy’s job when we worry, when we aren’t trusting Jesus!
Jesus commands that we refuse to worry about tomorrow. He knows that we’re tempted to not only plan our future, but then we take it a step further and we worry about the very things we ask for. We ask for a house, then worry about how it might fall apart. We ask for a new job, then worry it won’t be exactly what we want.
Maybe it’s just me…?
There was a time in my life when I read, “Do not worry” and my first thought was that Jesus must not have meant me. I mean, there’s no way He could’ve understood what I was worrying about. If He had, He wouldn’t have said it.
As usual, I was wrong.
“Do Not Worry” Sounds like…
“My problems don’t matter”: False
Sometimes when we read, “Do not worry,” it might feel like our problems don’t matter or that no ones cares about what we’re worried about. We may even be offended by someone telling us not to worry. The truth is that Jesus reassures us that the Father “cares deeply about even the smallest detail of your life.” There’s no problem too big or too small for Him. So, what do we do with these worries? We bring them to Him! We lay them at His feet. We cast all our anxieties on Him (“cast” literally means to throw our anxious thoughts at Him.) We ask people to pray for us. Our problems are real and they do matter, but sitting in worry and unbelief will never solve anything!
“My problems aren’t as big as I think they are”: true & false
Worry places so much attention on us that we begin to idolize our problems and we place them where Jesus should be. For some of us, misery is so normalized that we almost don’t want to let go of our anxieties. We’re comforted by our anxieties, they’re like an old friend to us. But the truth is that we’ll never experience victory in our lives if we do not embrace peace! Jesus wants us to experience His perfect peace. He said so Himself - that it was a gift He was leaving for us to open. So, how do we open it?? How do we experience peace? The first step is to humble ourselves. To admit that we can’t fix ourselves, as much as we’d like to. The next step is to throw our anxieties on Him. Isn’t this freeing? Liberating?? You don’t have the cure! You don’t have to fix yourself! You don’t have to solve all the problems. You just have to run to the One who can! So, is that it? Just humble ourselves and throw our problems at Him? Nope. Then, we trust that He will do the impossible. He will do the things that we can’t do ourselves.
“i won’t be able to control my future”: true
Most worry comes from a spirit of wanting to make the right decisions about our future. There’s more pressure than ever before to choose the right college, get the best job, the perfect spouse…the list goes on. The truth is that worry will never bring any of these things to life. We think we can take care of ourselves, that we’re “empowered women taking our destiny into our own hands,” but the self-care, self-empowerment gospel is the opposite of our true calling - to lay down our lives, pick up our cross, humble ourselves, follow Jesus, and trust Him. When we live in step with the Holy Spirit, He guides each and every step. He doesn’t make things confusing or try to hide from us. He will be our guide - from the first step to the last! Will we allow Him to lead us or will we fight to the death, attempting to control and curate the “perfect life” we envision for ourselves?
The antidote to worry:
Peace + Heavenly Deposits
“So, now, go and sell what you have and give to those in need, making deposits in your account in heaven, an account that will never be taken from you. Your gifts will become a secure and unfailing treasure, deposited in heaven forever. Where you deposit your treasure, that is where your thoughts will turn to—and your heart will long to be there also.” Luke 12: 33-34 (The Passion Translation)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 (New International Version)
So, my fellow-former-worry-warts, let’s throw off worry and refuse to worry about tomorrow.
Let us speak boldly, full of faith and assurance that the Father will make good out of our mess. That He will use us, broken and imperfect as we are!
Let us worship in the middle of the storms we face, trusting that no matter what may come, He will make a way.
Let us encourage one another to turn our thoughts away from ourselves and toward the Father, by blessing others and taking care of their needs.
When you find yourself in the thick of despair, anxiety, and worry, think of what you’d say to a friend who was worried about what you’re worrying about in that moment. How would you encourage her? Speak that over yourself. Say it out loud!
If you’re willing to admit that you’re a recovering worrier, as I am, click the button below so I can pray for you by name. I’d love to encourage you and have someone holding me accountable as well, when worry is towering over me and it’s all I can see.