“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere”
I am a worrier. And I am an over-thinker. I’ve even been known to over-think about over-thinking. My mind, it seems, becomes most active at night. When I should be winding down to go to sleep, my mind starts to work overtime. It isn’t always down to worry that I lie awake at night. More often than not, it’s the night time when I feel most creative. In fact, it’s often in the night that I start writing these blog posts. I think I’ve always been this way. Just ask my parents and they’ll tell you – I was a cautious child. Mum apparently used to ask me if I knew what F-U-N spelt. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to have fun or enjoy things…I’d just thoroughly examined every outcome possible first to decide whether said thing was worth doing or not. And sometimes, I still do that.
Since my graduation from university, the amount of things that would be on my list of worries and concerns has significantly risen. I know for many my age, they are experiencing the same. If you’re older than me, I’m sure you’ll know better than I do, of worries that I am yet to experience. But worrying, no matter how big or small the issue is, is very real. Some live with health worries, with concerns and burdens for loved ones and physical and spiritual wellbeing, with job and career concerns, family concerns, worries for the future – very real struggles and battles that are a cause for worry.
Our worry can be a heavy weight to bear. Proverbs 12:25 (NIV) says “anxiety weighs down the heart”. Corrie Ten Boom writes “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength”. George Macdonald echoes and expands on this thought, explaining “It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down. For the needs of today we have corresponding strength given. For the morrow we are told to trust. It is not ours yet. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear”. Could it be that by giving way to worry, we are adding unnecessary stress to our lives? That instead of being warriors for God, we are worriers?
We don’t have to carry the burden of our worries alone, if at all. The Bible offers us advice on where to go with our worry. As Christians, God offers us an alternative. The Bible instructs us to “banish anxiety from your heart” (Ecclesiastes 11:10, NIV) and tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). We need to take our worries and our concerns to our Father and let Him take them from us. Jesus says “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1, NIV), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV). The Bible also says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NIV). Max Lucado writes “No one can pray and worry at the same time”. Through prayer, we can combat the worry that threatens to overtake us. Let us trade in our titles of “worrier” for “warrior”.
But, I get it. It is so hard not to worry. Banishing worry is a lot easier said than done. It’s hard to surrender it all, handing it all over to the God we call Father. Because it’s a vulnerable thing to do. For myself, I can go for stretches without worrying, and then all of a sudden, I’m worrying about anything and everything that there might be for me to worry about. But I am learning. I’m learning to take it to God in prayer as soon as worry starts to set in. I’m learning to ask others for prayer. I’m learning that I don’t have to battle worry alone.
At the end of 2017, I remember having a conversation with a friend about the approaching New Year. At a time that should have been full of hope at the prospect of a new year, a clean slate, a new start, we were full of worry instead of hope. I remember saying “I’m going to be 24 this year – and there’s so much that I haven’t done. There’s so much that hasn’t happened yet. I’m not really where I thought I’d be”. On January 2nd, I wrote the following:
Every year, my family and I pick a verse from a box to be our individual verse for the year. And I just had to share mine. I couldn’t quite believe it when I read it – yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about New Year, and the sense of hope a New Year brings, but also my worries for the future, and fear of getting older and not quite being where I thought I’d be in life. While I was renewed with hope yesterday as we welcomed a New Year, my mind couldn’t help but wander to my own personal struggles, disappointments, concerns and worries that threaten to overtake my mind. And then today, I drew out this verse, and God could not have been clearer in His promise to me for 2018 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1, ESV). I’m so thankful that God holds my yesterdays, my today, and my tomorrows. And this 2018, I’m going to try my best not to worry (easier said than done…but I’m going to try!) – because it can only take a day for your circumstances to change, and for your world to change forever.
And now, on May 4th, I’m still trying to live that out. I’m trying to trust like I never have before. I’m trying not to worry (and, I admit, sometimes I’m not very good at that, and end up starting over – I’m thankful for new starts). I’m trying to live a life of complete surrender. And I hope that you’ll do that with me. Hannah Whitall Smith states “You find no difficulty in trusting the Lord with the management of the universe and all the outward creation, and can your case be any more complex or difficult than these, that you need to be anxious or troubled about His management of it?” God knows us better than anyone. God’s plans are better than ours and exceeds anything that we could ever imagine or plan for our own lives. When we leave the choice and plans up to God, we no longer need to worry for the future because our times are in His hands. Charles Stanley comments “As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you”. Trust Jesus with your concerns. You don’t have to wait for the start of a new year to make a change and to start trying to live without worry. You can exchange your record as a worrier for a clean slate as a warrior. You can start right now – today.
To close out this blog post, I’ll leave you with perhaps the first Bible passage that springs to mind when we think about worry – the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV):
“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 than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour 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—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”.