Do you find yourself worrying or fretting any of these things – health, finances, relationships, children, aging parents, employment status? Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night, constantly thinking about one or more of those areas of your life? Do you regularly say to yourself, “If only I had (fill the blank)” or “If only I could (fill in the blank).”
Let us begin by saying that thinking about, and taking care of, any or all of those areas of your life is not bad in itself. We are all called to be wise and take care of all that we have. For example, exercising is a good thing, but constantly worrying about how you look is not healthy. Having a budget and being wise with your finances just makes good sense, but always worrying about that next unexpected expense or the state of your retirement fund only causes unneeded stress. Wanting your kids to be safe and succeed in life is a good parenting strategy, but being overprotective or always hoping they make all the right decisions only causes many sleepless nights. You get the idea.
The Bible tells us that if we are to trust God in all things (Proverbs 3:5). We are instructed not to worry. And by worry, we do not mean not to have concern over a particular issue (that is normal), but the constant worry and stress over an issue does two things. First, it says to God that we really do not think He has things under control. And second, excess worry affects us in a number of ways – emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually, etc.
Rather than hear more of our thoughts, we want to end with two passages of scripture, both from The Message.
The first passage tells us to focus on the things we can control and don’t sweat the stuff we cannot control.
“He continued this subject with his disciples. Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” (Luke 12:22-32)
And the second passage encourages us not to be affected by the negative swirling around us.
“Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)