Anxiety and Worry

Personally, I love to collect proverbs-you know, those short, pithy statements that make us think about life in general. Here are a few of my latest ones:

  • The first one is by an unknown author, who said, “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”

  • Then there is one by Charles M. Schulz, the cartoonist of Charlie Brown fame, who said, “I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time.”

  • Here’s another good one, I think. It is by Katherine Paterson the author of Jacob Have I Loved. She said this: To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.”

  • What about this one by Glenn Turner? He said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.”

  • I also like the old Swedish Proverb that says, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”

  • Or the German Proverb that says, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

  • Then of course there is famous one by Mark Twain, the author and humorist, who said: “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. “

  • Finally, I like the one by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American essayist and poet who write with such profound insight when he penned these words, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Did you notice a common thread weaving its way in an out of these proverbs? Some of the key subjects were: worry—it casts a big shadow; fear makes the wolf look bigger; troubles—most of them never happen, dread, and so on. Well, they all have to do with what Emerson refers to as what lies within us—that is, our thoughts.

Jesus also had something to say about what lies within us. He said,

  • "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

  • Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

  • And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

  • Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

  • If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

  • So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'

  • For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

  • 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.

May I encourage you to take these words of advice from Jesus to heart, and begin from this very moment to not worry? Worry is an act of the will. We choose to worry. Why? Because we refuse to accept God at his word. He will feed us. Provide us with clothes. Cause it to rain so we can drink. Help our crops to grow so we can feed ourselves.

So, we need not fear. Therefore, let us determine right now that we will seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and rest in the secure confidence that all our needs will be met. Let us determine not to worry about tomorrow, for we know that tomorrow is in God’s hand.

Now, if you wish to stop worrying and gain the assurance that God is in control, will you pray the following prayer with me?

Our Heavenly Father, we confess that we have worried about things over which we have absolutely no control, and left important duties undone. We have neglected to pray as we should. We have allowed others to suffer when we could have helped. We have not visited the sick, or cared for those that are hurting. In short, we have chosen to remain idle and nurse our worries. Therefore, we pray that you will forgive us, and remind us once again that you will provide for our every need. In your name, I pray. Amen.

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