There are a lot of “Do Not”s in scripture that we tend to take pretty seriously as Christians. “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not lie” are just a few of the things that we easily get on board with. In most of these cases, we see the value behind the command and the detriment that befalls those who engage in such activities - and so we stay away.
But deep in scripture is one more do not that we tend to look over: Do not worry. The challenge of Matthew 6:34 couldn't’ be more clear, “Do not worry about tomorrow…” but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s so much easier said than done. As a professional counselor I am faced with worry on a daily basis. It’s an emotion that plagues many minds and burdens many hearts.
I empathize with those who carry that burden, because if I’m not careful, I have a tendency to be a worrier myself. I find it hard to let go of control and allow life to just happen. Even today, I find myself preoccupied with a little bit of worry. But there is reason that God calls us away from worry. It robs us of joy, suffocates our peace, and leaves us feeling powerless. It causes us to depend on ourselves, rather than look to our God.
But no matter what it is that’s going on in your life - you don’t have to be defeated by worry. Over the years I’ve come to rely on a few things that have helped me navigate away from the stormy waters of worry and into the bay of peace:
1. Take worry seriously. Don’t get comfortable with your worrisome thoughts, instead see them for the dangerous intruders that they are. Don’t allow yourself to worry about anything - from things as simple as the weather to things as serious as your loved ones. Worry is like a poison that can easily spread into every part of your life and eventually conquer your reality. Continuously give your anxious thoughts over to God, allowing him to fill your mind and heart.*
2. Remember that worry is not from God. We’ve become so accustomed to worry being a part of our daily routine. But worry is not as innocent as we try and make it out to be. Worry is directly linked to fear, and where there is fear, there is a lack of faith. Worrisome thoughts are not from God, and the longer we allow them to permeate our mind the more we are distancing ourselves from God’s perspective and pulling away from his presence. Keep this perspective in mind and instead replace it with thoughts that usher you closer to him.
3. Consider what worry is replacing. When we worry, we are allowing thoughts that could be devoted to prayer to be sidetracked as fuel for our anxiety. Worry plays the part of our prayers, and in the end, nothing gets accomplished. As the old saying goes, “Why worry, when you can pray?” We are a product of our thinking, and there is no better way to manage our mind than to keep it aligned with Truth. Talk to God. Hold on to his promises. Thank him for what he’s given. Listen to his voice. And then turn your worry into life-giving prayer.
4. Remember that something supernatural happens when we deliberately choose to give our worries to God in prayer. You don’t have to understand it, and you can’t explain it. It doesn’t make humanely sense, but it’s guaranteed. Our Lord promises that when we pray, he will replace our anxiety with peace. Peace that doesn’t even make sense. Peace that passes our understanding. Peace that has the ability to trump our worries and to silence our fears.
So no matter what is on your mind today, reflect on this passage of Scripture and as you do, remember that there is one sure way to beat worry.
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 (Philippians 4:6-7).
*If your feelings of worry and anxiety begin to impact your activities of daily living, consider seeking a professional counselor to help you manage these symptoms. Visit www.aacc.net to find a counselor near you.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more.
Publication date: January 17, 2014
Read our guide for How to Stop Worrying: 13 Practical Steps and start taking small steps today toward living fully free from anxieties.