I have been known to worry – a lot! My mind worries so much it is quite amazing I don’t have an ulcer or high blood pressure by now. I know that I am not alone. A study from London, England, found that people average almost two hours a day fretting – this adds up to nearly five years of your life if you live to be 65. Over the past year, God has been teaching me three ways to deal with worry.
1. Pray with Thanksgiving
Let’s be honest. When we are worried about something, praying is probably the last thing on our mind. We are too busy focusing on what might go wrong (or how it could get worse). But God has a different perspective. God doesn’t want you weighed down by worry. In Philippians 4:6-7, there is a command and a promise. We are told to respond to our anxious thoughts by praying with thanksgiving. God wants you to not only pray when you’re worried, but he takes it one step further and wants you also to be thankful when you pray! This sounds incredibly unreasonable when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Pray – maybe. Be thankful – are you kidding? But God makes us a promise when we do this. He promises that His peace, which surpasses what you can possibly understand, will guard your heart and your mind. God has been teaching me to be honest in my prayers when I’m worried, but to spend more time being thankful for His faithfulness and all the ways I have seen him answer prayer in the past.
2. When Thinking About the Future – Focus on the Potential and not the Problems
Michel do Montaigne was a French philosopher during the Renaissance. He once said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” A few years ago, the Huffington Post reported on a survey about worry.
- 85% of what people worry about never ends up happening
- 97% of what you worry over is nothing more than your mind exaggerating and giving misperceptions.
In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us not to be anxious – or not to worry – about tomorrow. Worry is really about how to protect ourselves from getting hurt or going through painful circumstances (that you can’t really control anyway). Jesus offers a different perspective. He says God the Father already knows what you need, and He promises to meet our needs. What do you have to worry about if God already has it covered? My mom has a phrase she always says when facing a difficult circumstance, “We will just see what God does with that.” When you are worried about tomorrow, imagine what could go right and remember you are the child of a God who is able to do more than you dare ask or imagine.
3. Cast all your cares on God
In our Life Group, we were talking one night about various difficulties we were all facing in our jobs. One of the members of our group – a nurse – spoke up and told us what she tells herself during these moments. “God’s got this,” she said. This one phrase changes everything in our minds when we are worrying. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “cast all your cares on him because he cares about you.”
“His care, though tender and comprehensive, causes no anxiety to him, for his great mind is more than equal to the task. But our care ferments within us and threatens the destruction of our meager souls. Care to us is exhausting, but God is all-sufficient.” – C.H. Spurgeon
The word “cast” carries the idea of tossing or throwing something. To oversimplify it – it’s like when someone has a problem and then tries to make it your problem instead. In this case, God actually wants us to make our deepest cares His problem.
I have found it be incredibly freeing to speak these words out loud – “God, this is your problem – not mine. I’m worrying about something beyond my control. I trust you – you’ve got this.” That’s casting your care on Him.
The Weight of Worry
God has shown me that worry is really me trying to take on the role of God in the circumstances of life. Worry cripples us because we are throwing ourselves under a weight we are never big enough to carry.
Just before Peter tells us to cast all our cares to God, he also tells us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).
When Jesus tells us that He came to give us rest, this is one of the ways He does this. It’s a challenge and an invitation to stop trying to carry the load on your shoulders and to humble yourself and trust in His love and power.
This year, break free from the burden of worry by trusting God and what He has said to us in the Bible. You will be glad you did.
- Stressed Out – How Stress is Shaping Our Lives
- How to Deal with Stress (Promise Keepers Canada Podcast)