Worry. It’s something that everyone deals with. Whether it’s about paying the bills this month, will we find true love, the end result of an illness, or any number of things, we all worry. I love that dictionary.com defines worry as, “To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.” Worry is nothing more than self torture. It’s allowing our mind to put us into a debilitating prison where our mind thinks of every negative thing that may happen in a situation. Worry only looks at the negative outcomes.
If you’re a worrier, take heart. God wants to free you from that torment. 1 John 3:20 says, “God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (MSG). Not only does He know you better than you know yourself, He knows your future. There is nothing that is going to happen to you that He doesn’t already know about. I learned several years ago to trust that worrying didn’t solve the problem or change the future, so I began to hand my worry to Him.
I Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). I admit it was difficult to learn to hand them off to Him because I didn’t know what to think about or do since all I knew was worry. But that’s where Philippians 4:6 came into play. It says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (MSG).
Worry never changed the outcome of anything, but prayer has! Quit tormenting yourself and start praying to God about it. Release it to Him because He is greater than your worry and your problems. He wants to trade peace for your suffering. He wants to give you a lighter burden, but you have to be willing to exchange worry for it and leave it with Him. God cares deeply about you and the things you’re going through. Trust Him to do what’s best and give Him your worry. Give no place in your mind to anxiety and debilitating worry. Be free.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
My high school English teacher used to try to drill home with us the difference between eager and anxious. Being eager was to be excited about an opportunity or an upcoming event. Being anxious was to be nervous or worried about the upcoming event. “If you’re excited about what’s coming,” she would say, “don’t say you’re anxious to go.” She wanted to make sure we knew the difference because they have two very different meanings and we often interchange them incorrectly.
I want us to understand their differences as well as we read Scripture. Psalm 94:19 says, “Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad” (GNT). God can take something that we are anxious about and make us eager about it, but we have to let Him. The problem is many of us get addicted to being anxious and we live in the land of worry instead of expectation. God’s desire is that we be eager instead of anxious.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.” The version I learned this verse in used the words “be anxious” instead of “worry”. Either way, God’s message to us is the same. Don’t be anxious about anything, but if you are, let those feelings drive you to prayer where you can eagerly expect what God will do for you instead of anxiously awaiting the outcome of the situation.
Worry robs you of energy, sleep, and life, but eagerness gives you energy. Being anxious won’t change the outcome, but prayer will. God can comfort our anxious spirit, give us an eagerness to see what He will do, and make us glad. We need to quit trusting in what we believe will happen, and let our faith dictate prayers that will change the future to one we can be eager to receive. Even if the worst happens, God can use it for our good. That’s something to be eager about.
I’m taking a break from writing this week, but want to give you a scripture each day to think about as we head into Thanksgiving and kick off the Christmas season.
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
Philippians 4:6 AMPC
As you prepare to get together with family and friends, remember not to get anxious. Breathe. This is a time to give thanks for God’s blessings.
Ask God who you can be a blessing to this Thanksgiving. Be open to letting God use you to speak life to your family and friends who may be anxious during this season.
Have you ever just allowed your mind to worry? I’m sure you’ve been there where your every thought is consumed by all the possibilities. You replay the scenario in your mind over and over again until you can’t think of any good outcomes. Your heart rate goes up. Your stress increases. You get that feeling in the middle of your chest that something’s not right. Your sleep then gets affected and your exhausted because you’re mentally drained. It happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to. We don’t have to let worry consume our mind and lives. There’s a better way.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers…Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Worry takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of time and effort too. God would rather we spend that time, energy and effort in prayer. That’s what David did when he worried. He spent a lot of time in dark caves hiding from people who wanted to kill him. His mind would wander in the darkness and worry would creep in.
It was in the darkness of those caves in the stress of worry that he wrote so many Psalms. We like to think of him as the giant slayer, but he was also a worrier. Writing the Psalms helped him channel that worry into prayer and praise. When we worry, we take control of the situation that we have no control over. When we pray, we give God control of the situation that He already knows the outcome of. If we can learn to hand that off on prayer, we can displace a lot of worry in our life and use the energy for productive things.
The scripture also said to let petitions and praise shape our worries into prayers. I’ve found that when I’m most stressed, most worried and most consumed with a problem that I need to break away and spend time listening to Praise and Worship music. When I begin to praise God and worship Him, I invite His presence into my situation. I invoke all of Heaven’s authority to come stand by my side and fight on my behalf. I’m then surrounded by God’s peaceful presence because He dwells in the praises of His people. When that peace comes over me, I begin to see the battle is not mine, but His.
Worry doesn’t change my situation, prayer does because it moves the hand of God. Worry leaves me empty and broken, but God’s presence makes me whole. Worry sees every negative outcome in a situation, but praise sees everything working together for my good. The choice is ours. I personally like the outcome of prayer and praise than worry and fret. If you’re caught in that storm of negative thoughts, put up an umbrella of prayer and praise today and let the peace of God that passes all understanding come and rule in your heart and mind. Leave worry behind. Give it to the One who already knows what’s going to happen and is in control. It’s a wonderful feeling when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.