In the 1800’s on the American frontier, homesteaders had to be concerned with how much firewood was cut for the winter months. Concern over this kept men cutting whole trees most of the summer and into autumn — right up until the snow hindered the task. Then, as the cold winds blew, anxious thoughts would also arrive: would this be enough wood?
I’m thankful for modern conveniences, like central heating. But there are still things that tempt me to worry. Christians are not exempt from giving in to anxious thoughts. What makes you worry?
The Bible gives us several helpful insights into dealing with worry and anxiety. Here are FIVE that I recently shared with some men from my church.
#1. WORK HARD, BUT DO NOT WORRY. Read Matthew 6:25-33, from the Sermon on the Mount. “Therefore, do not worry about your life…” Jesus said. Yes, you should labor for food, shelter and clothing, but you should not entertain the fearful thoughts that create worry and anxiety. Someone else once said, A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work!
#2. DO NOT BORROW WORRY FROM TOMORROW. Read Matthew 6:34 — “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus says, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Why import troubles from tomorrow, when today’s troubles keep us busy enough?!
#3. GIVE GOD YOUR ANXIETIES: 1st Peter 5:6-7. Of course, many of us hesitate to ask for help (that’s pride at work), and so we also hesitate to ask God for help with what worries us. I think that’s why Peter first writes about being humble before God (5:6) before he exhorts us to cast all our cares upon Him (5:7). What’s really sweet about this verse is what it tells us about God: “He cares [literally, ‘is anxious’] for you.” Let God’s divinely broad shoulders bear your anxious fears!
#4. GET FROM GOD PEACE & HELP: Philippians 4:6-7. God has peace available for anxious folks like us. Ask Him for it. The bigger principle at work here is this: Worship and worry are mutually exclusive. If you spend time in God’s presence (in prayer and at peace) your anxieties will flee. Fill your mind with thoughts of who God is, and what He has promised to you. A.S. Rouch has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” I would propose the converse as well: thanksgiving and praise of God trickling through your mind and heart will cleanse away worrisome fears, and foster peace of mind, and hope in God.
#5. OBEY THE WORD & EXERCISE YOUR FAITH! Let me, lastly, direct you to the beginning of Psalm 37 (vv. 1-7), where we are shown how to walk in faith (to trust and delight in God, to wait upon Him, etc.). Real faith walks this way; superficial faith will endlessly dance with worries, and miss the joy of drawing close to the Lord of life and peace.
Why let worries linger in your life, O believer? Do your work, worship God with a thankful heart and walk by faith.