Recently one of my pastors pointed out that worry is a sin because God tells us through both Jesus and Paul to not worry (Matt 6:34 & Philippians 4:6). That revelation has become a real problem for me because my default approach to every problem is worry. Trying to not worry has felt like relearning how to walk and surprisingly it’s been absolutely worth it.
I didn’t realize that worrying was robing me of life and strength until I started fighting against my tendency to do so. My tendency to worry is way more than a problematic habit and I will miss out on the life God wants to give me if I don’t learn how to successfully fight it.
The last couple of months have brought quite a few stressful situations and I’ve wanted to thoroughly worry about all of them until I felt that I had them under control. Then God kind of nudged my heart and pointed out that all my stressful situations represented opportunities to trust Him. That little nudge led me down one of the most surprising paths of my life.
When I looked at problems as opportunities to trust God, it completely changed how I viewed the problems and how I dealt with them. I slowly started seeing the worry or stress that the problem created as the enemy and not the people or circumstances behind the problem. In the past, I saw most problems like chess matches where I had to outmaneuver the people or circumstances that caused the current problem in my life.
I tried to figure out the best attitude, words, and actions to counter the person or circumstances that caused me stress. I didn’t ever intend to take an aggressive approach to the other people in my life, I simply thought each problem was like a puzzle that I needed to solve. This approach seemed like the key to victory and in reality never solved any of my problems.
Even when I said the right thing or took the right attitude, situations never worked out the way that I thought they would. It turns out that when my plans don’t involve God they really struggle to succeed. Also when I didn’t talk to God about my problems and lay them before His feet, I become obsessed with my problems.
Worry felt like a warm blanket because it made me think that I understood the situation when in reality it slowly suffocated me.
I would think about the ins and outs of all of my problems over and over again. I repeated conversations in my head and planned out future conversations multiple times. I still find myself falling back into these practices and without fail they rob my strength and life.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of it’s sorrow, it empties today of it’s strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom
Two things happen when I worry. First, I place a great deal of mental energy and time into deciding my strategy for dealing with a problem and then going back over that strategy again and again. Secondly, I make the assumption that a good result depends on my strategy and ability to execute that strategy.
Sometimes, I put all of this work just into a conflict with a friend. I think that I need the right argument and words for them to hear me and that our relationship could fall apart if I don’t have the right strategy. This assumption, and the approach that comes from it, places the weight of the world on my shoulders and does not assume that God will provide any help.
The real linchpin of this whole issue comes from not trusting that God has a role in the problem or that He wants to help me with it. When we assume that God is absent or doesn’t care about our problems, we end up thinking that we need to guarantee success with our own planning and execution and that is one of the greatest weights in the world. That weight does not come off until the problem is completely resolved and even lingers on after that if things don’t go completely our way.
At any give point in your life you will probably be facing somewhere between three and seven stressful situations or problems at a time. You will never experience a time without some sort of stressful problem that will tempt you to worry about it. When we constantly think that our problems rely on our strength, we slowly come to the conclusion that getting through life or getting the life that we want depends on us.
First, the weight of that assumption will slowly drag you down and bury you in anxiety and worry. Secondly, that’s not trusting in God and that’s a sin. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” We tend to trust God with the part of our hearts that is worried about our eternal salvation and trust in our own power when it comes to every other part of life.
We need to faithfully work through problems with prayer, the counsel of our small group, and the wisdom of Scripture. Once we’ve done that though we need to give up the worry to God. In the last couple weeks I had to literally start praying out loud “I give you this worry” and then stop thinking about the problem.
This is really difficult for me because I a powerful assumption that a situation will completely fall apart if I don’t say or do the right things. That false assumption does not factor God into my life at all and I need to get rid of it quickly. My new prayer to give up worry has become kind of like the training wheels for getting rid of that misconception.
The more often I give up my worries, the more I choose to believe that God controls everything and that I don’t have to. Knowing that God is in control and that I can trust Him makes an incredible difference because it takes that giant weight off my shoulders. It brings back the strength and life that worry used to drain from me.
I am by no means perfect at fighting worry; it’s still a daily battle that I don’t always win. I will keep pushing on and fighting though because I’ve tasted the fruits of trusting God and they are more than worth it. Experiencing real joy and peace feels like sucking in air after holding your breath for way too long.
Do you think it’s possible for you to lay down your worries at God’s feet and just trust that He’s in control and knows best?
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