by Angie Thomas
Worry. It is one of the most insidious sins. It seems natural, mature. Children don’t usually worry much, but we blame it on their naivety and innocence. We think, “When they grow up and understand life, they will have much to worry about.” Really, we are the ones that are naive. Mariam-Webster defines worry as “to choke or strangle, to torment.” Wow, not exactly the innocent personality trait we want to frame it as. We have to look at this sin seriously and ask God to get to the root of it so we can dig it out of our hearts. The challenge is that it is seeded and twisted with so many other sins: pride, fear, jealousy, coveting, idolatry. It is often a manifestation of these other sins.
If you think back to your childhood, when did you begin to worry? For me, as I began to gain independence and make decisions for myself, I began to worry. Was I making the “right” decision, what decision should I make, how will it affect my life? That is also when I began to worship the idol of our culture: self. I wanted my life to go a certain way. After all, even the church often tells us, “You can be anything! Pursue your dreams!” Yet Jesus’ words to His disciples is so different, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). We worry because we fear being out of control, of things not playing out the way we want. If we trusted the Father and believed—even when we have trials and our life doesn’t end up the way we want—that our life will still be the most satisfying life we could live, we wouldn’t worry. We have to plead for God’s grace to give us childlike faith and belief in His goodness and love for us and take our hands off of our lives.
I will share from personal experience, being a wretched worrier, that it requires constant and vigilant tending of our thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” The devil’s argument is that we cannot trust God completely and that He does not have our best interest in mind. But that is a lofty opinion that is raised against the truth of God’s word and who He is. His love and affection for us are found throughout the Bible, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off, fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9b-10).
God’s word tells us in Philippians 4:6 to NOT BE ANXIOUS about ANYTHING. I didn’t check the Greek but I think anything probably means ANYTHING. That means we are not to be worried about our finances, our job, our relationships, our plans, our dreams…NOTHING! I can share from personal experience as you try to walk this out in different areas of your life, it will feel foolish. Not worry about my money? That is irresponsible. Not worry about my job? That is immature. The list goes on and on. Notice I am not suggesting you don’t give attention to these things, I am only commending that you follow God’s Word. Philippians 4:6 continues, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” Prayer and supplication with thanksgiving is quite different than obsessing or dwelling on our concerns for hours or days. We must stop the thoughts and go to prayer, taking all of our concerns before Him.
So how can we combat this strangling, choking attribute of worry? Surrender your life, minute by minute, to the Lord. Believe that He loves you regardless of your circumstances. Lay all your concerns before Him daily; don’t minimize or suppress them. Thank Him despite your lack of control. Trust that He is Sovereign and always in control and is always good and faithful. As the worry loses its grip on your heart, there is ABUNDANT LIFE and JOY that well up within you by the power of the Holy Spirit!
I am praying that we can all put to death this nasty sin of worry. It will be an amazing opportunity to share the Gospel as those around us see the peace of Christ, that surpasses understanding, overflowing from our surrendered hearts!