“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)
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26)
I must confess that I have had a secret and intimate relationship that has lasted over 40 years. I have spent many years building up this relationship and it has provided me with a great deal of satisfactory interactions and diversions. Its name is worry.
When I was young, I had a scary encounter with a man who was trying to break into my childhood home. I was not physically harmed but my sense of safety was crushed and I experienced profound insomnia. As many of you know, in the early 70’s, therapy was not routinely prescribed to treat anxiety, real or imagined, in children. I was left to my own devices to make it through each night, often worrying that he would return. I did find comfort in knowing that Jesus was with me and I often spent nights singing praise songs and praying as my mom wisely advised. I am thankful for that experience since it taught me as a child to trust that God knew my fear, that He loved me and would protect me. However, as I grew older, worry became my constant and comfortable companion. I knew the verses from the Bible about worry. Jesus spoke those words and they are recorded in both Matthew and Luke. I knew them but I couldn’t live them.
Sometimes, God reaches into your heart from unexpected places. Prior to my daughter’s college adventure overseas for the last year, I read a secular book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. This is a book about threats and security risks that people face in the world everyday. It is an interesting but uneasy read that includes many case studies from real life. Most valuable to me was a chapter about worry. According to DeBecker, “Worry is the fear we manufacture.” He makes the bold statement that worry provides secondary rewards to the worrier. These include the following:
The worrier can avoid making a needed change about an issue.
The worrier can avoid feeling powerless over the issue.
The worrier can substitute love and loving actions with worry or anxiety.
Worriers can feel protected from future disappointment as they rehearse the imagined scenario and their response to it.
We fall into familiar relationships with our worries, but DeBecker adds that constant worried imaginations actually depress our ability to respond to true threats.
I believe that reading this book was a gift from God. As I read, I reached a big “duh” moment and this message was driven into my worried little heart and I heard it. Worry is in direct conflict with my faith in God’s protection regardless of circumstance (and outcome) and belief that Jesus is directly commanding me, “Do not worry.” I chose worry instead of the best alternative…prayer. Through prayer, I have been able to acknowledge my powerlessness to effect any change in Grace’s travel half a world away. Through prayer, I continue to acknowledge that I am not in charge and that I have a Father who can handle everything so much better. I must admit that it is hard to let go and let God be in charge when my fears have been so diligently nurtured. With each prayer and release of worries, I find that God is showing me that my old companion was a bad influence and He has better friends in mind for me…gratitude, peace, confidence, love.
What worries are you nurturing?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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)
Caroline can be reached via email.