What are you worried about today?
If you are like most people, you are probably worried about your weight. That might not be at the top of your list, but according to a survey by Beneden Health in the U.K., that’s the # 1 concern for most people. Here are the Top Ten Worries (counting down from #10 to #1) according to their survey:
9. Job security
8. Rent/mortgage payment
7. Credit card debt
6. Low energy level
5. Overdrafts and loans
4. Overall fitness
3. Lack of savings/financial future
2. Growing old
Here are three observations about that list:
1. These mostly fall into two categories: health and finances.
2. These are universal human concerns.
3. These are issues that will be with us as long as we live.
You’re going to have to die in order to stop being concerned about your money and your health.
Have you ever wondered how much time you spend worrying? It’s probably more than you think. The same survey asked people how much time they spend worrying. Here’s what they found out.
Each week, we spend 14.31 hours worrying.
That equals 744 hours of worry each year.
Which turns into 45,243 hours of worry over a lifetime.
That equals 1885 days in a lifetime spent doing nothing but worrying.
Which means that we spend 5.2 years of life captured by worry.
No wonder we have trouble sleeping.
No wonder we feel under so much pressure.
No wonder we find it hard to concentrate.
For most people, it’s not just one thing. It’s many things wrapped up together. It’s a job, school, money, work, health, bills to pay, your husband, your wife, your ex-husband, your ex-wife, the in-laws, the kids, and on and on it goes. Any one thing we could handle or even two things, but when you get three or four together, your knees start to buckle.
Strangled by Worry
To worry is to “give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.” The word itself comes from the Old English wyrgan, which means to strangle or to seize by the throat. That’s a helpful image because we’ve all felt the pressure squeezing us. A friend told me about going through a crisis regarding his newborn grandchildren with serious medical issues. He spoke of being on a roller coaster of emotions as the doctors first gave bad news, then good news, then news that was somewhat confusing. He felt like being taken to the top and then suddenly dropped to the bottom. He added this telling phrase: “I’ve found that it squeezes my mind quite a bit while trying to do other things.”
Let me give you a simple definition. Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. The key obviously is the word “excessive.” Worry happens when you are so concerned about the problems of life that you can’t think of nothing else. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear.
And it is a sin. Worry is a sin for two reasons: First, because it displaces God in your life. When you commit the sin of worry, you are living as though God did not exist. And you are living as though you alone can solve your problems. Second, because it distracts you from the things that really matter in life. As long as you are worrying, you can’t do anything else. You are strangled by worry.
How can we tell when the legitimate concerns of life have become sinful worries? Here are three practical guidelines.
You are probably well into worry . . .
1. When the thing you are concerned about is the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about at night.
2. When you find yourself thinking about it during every spare moment.
3. When you find yourself bringing it up in every conversation.
Seen in that light, most of us worry a lot more than we would like to admit.
Different Versions of the Same Verse
Here is God’s answer to our worries, stated in one verse tucked away near the end of Peter’s first epistle:
“Casting all your cares on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
To get a broader perspective, I checked out some other translations and paraphrases of this verse, starting with the venerable King James Version:
“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you” (KJV).
“Throw all your anxieties upon him, because he cares about you” (CJB).
God issues the same invitation to all of us
“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern” (Phillips).
“Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you” (MSG).
“Since God cares for you, let him carry all your burdens and worries” (Voice).
Look at the different words that are used for the problems of life:
Cares . . . Anxieties . . . Burdens . . . Worries.
That covers all of life. No matter which word you choose, God makes the same invitation to all of us.
“Take your worries . . .
Take your cares . . .
Take your burdens . . .
Take your anxieties . . .
And give them to me.”
Let’s take a moment to unpack this text and see how to respond to God’s gracious invitation.
You can read the rest of this message online.