Worry plagues the human race and has the power to destroy, derail, and plunge us into despair. Worry serves no useful purpose. Unlike planning and preparing, worry is a state of the mind with no action associated with it. I recently heard a statistic that 95% of what people worry about never happens. I suspect that for avid worriers that number is even higher.
For My Tuesday Three, I wanted to share my three favorite Bible passages about worry, and the answer the Lord gives us on how to combat worry.
The first passage is from Matthew and is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
“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?” Matthew 26:25-30 (NIV).
I love how Jesus bluntly reminds us that we can’t add a single hour to our life by worrying; it just doesn’t help anything. The key to not worrying is to have faith that God loves us and will care for us. After all, He cares for birds and flowers that are much less valuable to Him than we are, so why do we think He won’t care for us?
The second passage is from 1 Peter and includes similar advice to what Jesus said in Matthew:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:7-11 (NIV).
Just that first verse is a good one, and so easy to remember. It echoes Jesus’ words that God cares for each of us. I once wrote a whole poem based on that single verse. But if you continue reading you see that the advice to cast your anxiety on Jesus doesn’t mean you should think nothing bad could ever happen. In fact, this passage tells us that we will encounter suffering, which is what most people worry about. But still worry doesn’t help. Rather we need to be prepared for what might happen, and trust that God will never leave us in our suffering. We need to have faith that whatever comes our way is only temporary and that Christ will restore us.
The third passage, from Philippians, is one I can quote from memory, and I often do quote it to other people when they say they are anxious or worried about something. Next to John 14:6, it is my favorite Bible verse. I once was a terrible worrier, and this is the verse that truly helped me to leave that behind me and trust God.
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 (NIV).
The advice of this short passage is priceless and true. Instead of worrying, this passage tells us to pray about our concerns “with thanksgiving.” Remember, God cares. He wants to know how we feel and what our needs are. If we have a sick loved one and we want them to be well, He wants to hear about that from us. In the process, we need to thank Him for how He will handle the situation. If we have lost our job or are just unhappy in the one we have, we need to bring our petition for a new job and for financial support to the Lord, and thank Him for the provisions He has made in our life thus far. Whatever the need, whatever the petition, whatever it is you might be worrying about, bring it to God in prayer, thanking Him for His love and mercy.
The second part of this passage is my favorite. It tells us that the result of bringing our concerns to God in prayer is that we will know peace in our hearts and minds. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” It’s not logical, it is spiritual. It is a peace I never want to live without even though I have no idea how He has placed it in my heart and mind.
Do you have a tendency to worry about the future? Do “what if’s” plague your thinking? Are you in despair because you are sure the worst will happen any minute? Turn all your worries over to God. He cares and He knows that what you need is peace in your heart and mind so that you can face each new day with faith and courage.