By Lynette Hagin
Let me ask you a question: did you worry about anything this past week? Stress and worry have become a way of life for many. We live in a world of stressed-out people. Stress and worry are enemies that are stalking our land. They are not respecters of persons. They seek to devour the peace and happiness of everyone they touch. They are major contributors to heart attacks, high blood pressure, ulcers, depression, and anxiety. They drain energy from the body and mind.
It has been estimated that 40 percent of the things an average person worries about will never happen; 30 percent are in the past and can’t be changed; 12 percent are from criticism by others, most of which is untrue; 10 percent are from health, which gets worse with worry; and only 8 percent are from real problems. It’s interesting to note that only 8 percent of what we worry about is something that we will actually have to deal with. Someone once said, “Worry is the interest you pay on troubles that seldom come.”
Worry is faith in the negative. It is a belief in defeat. It has been said, “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” Worry is like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Let’s see what the Word of God says about worry.
Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV) says,
“ ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
“ ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies 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, O 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.’ ”
In this passage, the Lord is not suggesting that we not worry—He is giving a direct command. His instructions are very specific: “Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about your clothes. Do not worry about tomorrow.” Jesus is saying that things such as anxiety, worry, and fear have absolutely no place in a Christian’s life.
However, I am sure that many of us would admit that we struggle consistently with the cares of life. When you complained about a situation, has someone ever said to you, “Don’t worry about it”? If so, perhaps you replied, as I have, “That’s easier said than done.” Worry is one of the hardest habits to break.
One of our greatest examples of how to handle worry is the Apostle Paul. In Philippians 4:6–7 (NIV) Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.”
We could interpret Paul’s statement here as, “Don’t worry about anything!” And yet when Paul wrote this letter, he was a prisoner in Rome, chained 24 hours a day to a Roman soldier and facing possible execution. He had a marvelous opportunity to worry about his future. Yet this entire letter is saturated with joy. Paul determined that in whatever circumstance he found himself, he would rejoice and not worry.
I encourage you to practice rejoicing rather than worrying. Know that the Lord is in control of your life, and if you will look to Him, He will bring you out of any circumstance. He will see you through and bring you victoriously to the other side. And instead of living in turmoil, you will be able to live in peace.