Human beings have a tendency to worry. We worry about whether we will have enough money to pay the rent or mortgage; we worry about whether our kids will get into college and succeed in life; we worry about whether we will get cancer, or diabetes, or some other disease that runs in our family; we worry that tomorrow will bring the worst.
But Jesus taught us not to worry. In Matthew 6:27, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Jesus acknowledges that as human beings we need food, shelter, and clothing, and says that our Father in Heaven knows we need them. He says, “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.” Matthew 6:33-34.
But what is wrong with worrying? The problem is that at its core “worry” equates to not trusting God and it doesn’t serve any useful purpose in our lives or in the furtherance of God’s kingdom. The Random House Dictionary defines the verb worry as “to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.” Worry is something that occurs only in the mind, thinking over and over about what might happen.
So what is the alternative? We can’t just sit around and expect all that we need to come our way without any effort. So what do we do instead of worry? Two things: plan and pray.
We plan when we have a healthy concern for what the future will bring and take action to prepare for that future. We go to work to earn a living so that we can buy food and pay the rent, or we send out resumes and look for a job if we are unemployed. We teach our children good values and help them when they are struggling in school so that they can get into a good college. We go to the doctor for routine check-ups and screening tests related to hereditary diseases so we can catch and treat them early, and we follow our doctor’s advice for ways to prevent things such as diabetes and heart disease that run in our families.
Then we pray and trust God to be there no matter what the future brings. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “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.” When you give your worries to God, He gives you peace in return. I don’t understand how or why, but I’ve done it enough times to know that it is true.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know who will be there with me. Even in the worst of times He has been with me and has brought me through. So just remember, when you start to worry and fret about a future you cannot know or control, “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.