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What Can I Do With My Worry


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What Can I Do With My Worry

  1. 1. WHAT CAN I DO WITH MY CONTENTS WORRY? T he Serenity Prayer is a “I’m Worried!” . . . . . . . . 2 good place to start. Many What Is Worry? . . . . . . . 4 have found peace of mind Why Do We Worry? . . . 8 in the words, “God grant me serenity to accept the things What Can We Do With Our Worry? . . . . 10 I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the Turn Our Attention To God . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 wisdom to know the difference.” The Bible gives a basis for Trust Beyond Ourselves. . . . . . . . . . . 17 such a prayer. But it also gives so much more. The Scriptures Talk To Someone Who Cares . . . . . . . . . 20 tell us a great deal about the heart of the One who has asked Throw Our Cares On The Lord. . . . . . . . . 23 us to bring our cares to Him. In the following pages, A Biblical Case Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 author Dave Egner expresses sensitivity for the anxieties that Joanie’s Story . . . . . . . . 26 wear us down, and a real basis The Greatest for believing that there is a Worry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 God who wants us to find our serenity, courage, and wisdom in Him. Martin R. De Haan II Managing Editor: David Sper Cover Photo:Terry Bidgood Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.All rights reserved. © 1992,2003 RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan Printed in USA © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. “I’M WORRIED!” quiet and withdrawn as the 31st approached. Jan was G ene and Jan were waking up in the middle of worried. Rumors the night, and not able to had been circulating get back to sleep. They for months that the plant were worried. where Gene had worked Gene and Jan are for 27 years was going to Christians. They attend cut back 25-30 percent church regularly and in production. If this consider themselves was true, layoffs on all spiritually mature. They levels, including Gene’s believe that Christians supervisory ranking, were shouldn’t worry. “God will certain. Now the news had take care of you,” their leaked out that the cuts pastor said. They believed would occur at the end that and they prayed about of the month. it. But they were still Gene and Jan were worried. overwhelmed by the A lot of us are like Gene uncertainty—bombarded and Jan. We worry. So do with questions about the many Americans. Worry is future. “If I lose my job, will “the number one mental we be able to make it? How health disorder in America” can we keep up with the (Worry-Free Living, Minirth, house payments? What are Meier, Hawkins, p.17). For we going to do about health some, worry is linked to insurance? What kind of specific panic-inducing job can I get at 56 years situations that result in dry old? Will Jan have to go mouth, shortness of breath, back to work?” Gene or uncontrollable tears. For became increasingly others, worry is a chronic, 2 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. vague, never-ending fear to be the right kind of that something terrible is Christian parent or spouse. about to happen to wreck We want to be a good everything. For others, it’s witness to our neighbor. the fear that people are not So we worry about it. going to like them or will We may even worry disapprove of how they’re because we see ourselves dressed or the way they as worriers. We know that talk. we shouldn’t worry, but we One woman sought just keep worrying. We counsel because she was don’t know what to do. beside herself with worry about the salvation of her grown children. She woke up at night thinking about Believing you it. She examined her heart shouldn’t worry can again and again to see if be something else she really believed God could save them. This to worry about. woman was crippled with worry, and she needed to do something about it. The purpose of this As followers of Christ, booklet is to help us we certainly aren’t immune see, from a biblical and to worry. We are living practical point of view, under the same pressures what we can do with our of society that everyone worry. By understanding else is. In addition, what worry is, why we sometimes even our worry, and what the Bible spiritual convictions can be has to say, we can turn our a source of worry. We want worry into spiritual growth. 3 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. WHAT IS The primary New WORRY? Testament word for worry (merimnao) means “to be B efore we turn to the anxious, to be distracted, to Bible to see what have a divided mind.” It’s we can do with our the word Jesus used when worry, it might be helpful He said, “Do not worry to answer a few basic about your life” (Mt. 6:25). questions about worry. And Paul used it when he What is worry? It’s a feeling of uneasiness, apprehension, or dread. Worriers dwell in These feelings are usually related to negative thoughts the “what if ’s” of something that may of life. happen in the future. “What will I do if my husband comes in upset and angry?” wrote, “Be anxious for “If my daughter goes to a nothing” (Phil. 4:6). People state college, will she be who worry are preoccupied okay?” “If we go ahead and or distracted. No matter get this house, will we be what else they may be able to make the payments?” doing, one part of their “Will we survive the next mind is worrying. earthquake?” Who worries? Worriers live in the Everyone! No person lives future. They spend a without some worry. A disproportionate amount person who claims he of time speculating on doesn’t have a care in the what might occur, and world is in a state of denial. then fearing the worst. Every person who takes 4 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. responsibility seriously Suppose you live in a high- can’t help but feel a certain crime area and you have to amount of worry. It’s one arrive home from work after reason things get done. dark. You worry about being Some of the greatest world mugged, and you feel great leaders were worriers: relief when you arrive home Alexander the Great, safely and bolt the door George Washington, behind you. One reason Winston Churchill. people worry is that they Interestingly, many high are physically threatened. achievers are worriers. They Other people are are driven by their worries threatened by what others about what might happen if think of them. They want to they fall short. But people look good and do well at all who appear to be laid-back times. When thrust into an worry too. They just don’t unfamiliar or demanding show it. Yes, everyone situation, they worry about worries. doing the right thing. Many What do we worry of these people avoid taking about? It’s sometimes said risks to escape the possibility that worry superimposes the of facing disapproval. future on the present. Worry Still others worry about is a preoccupation with the the threat of abandonment. painful consequences of They need continual what might happen. Worries reassurance that their generally arise out of one of spouse or friends will three categories. not leave them. 1. Threats. You don’t 2. Choices. Many people have to live in New York or worry when they have to Chicago to recognize the make a decision. They will reality of the threat of crime. do anything to avoid making 5 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. a wrong choice. This is true us with a choice. We can even when they are faced choose to avoid the source with two good options. For of our worry. But this only example, John was offered increases the stress. Or we two teaching positions. One can face it, take appropriate had better benefits; the other action, and put it behind us. gave him better courses and the opportunity to coach baseball. He was worried Worry shifts the about making the wrong choice and ending up burden from God’s unhappy. strong shoulders 3. Past Experiences. A to our weak third cause for worry comes out of the past. A young man shoulders. may have trouble with male authority figures because of his relationship to his What does the Bible father or a bad incident say about worry? The with a teacher. He worries Bible teaches that there whenever he has to discuss are two kinds of worry: something with his boss. He (1) a negative, harmful, can’t stand the threat of crippling worry, and being humiliated again. (2) a positive, beneficial Worry, then, is a concern. The same Greek preoccupation with bad word (merimnao) is used in things that may happen. the New Testament for each. It’s the fear that we’ll Negative worry in be embarrassed, suffer the Bible is a troubled pain, experience loss, or be fretting and anxiety. Jesus inconvenienced. This leaves mentioned this kind of worry 6 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. six times in the Sermon concerned about (same on the Mount (Mt. 6). He word) their welfare (Phil. commanded His followers 2:20). This was a good kind not to worry about the of worry that spurred Paul everyday cares of life: food, and Timothy into loving clothing, shelter, or even the involvement for the sake of future. Paul told us to “be others. We will use the word anxious for nothing” (Phil. concern for this positive kind 4:6). And Peter instructed of worry. his readers to cast their When am I worried cares on God (1 Pet. 5:7). too much? We have In this booklet, when we use moved from a healthy the word worry, we usually concern to an oppressive, have this negative, crippling crippling worry when we: kind of worry in mind. • Can’t sleep because But not all worry is we can’t stop thinking bad. The Bible also speaks about what might of a beneficial worry. In happen. 2 Corinthians 11:28, Paul • Feel guilty whenever spoke of his “deep concern we relax. for all the churches.” The • Are afraid of something word translated concern here all the time. is the same Greek word used • Feel panic in certain for worry in the previous situations. references. Paul was worried • Refuse to look at our about the believers, so he feelings. wrote to them. • Blame others for Paul also told the everything. believers in Philippi of his • Have a vague fear desire to send Timothy to of disaster. them because he was 7 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. WHY DO WE power of the wind and the WORRY? huge waves. He thought about the danger he was A n incident in the life in and began to question of the apostle Peter whether he could survive will help us answer in a situation like that. He this question. Do you began to sink. He cried out remember the time the to Jesus, who reached out disciples were out in a boat His hand and escorted Peter in a storm? Jesus had sent back to the boat. them ahead while He went We’re so much like to a mountain to pray (Mt. Peter. His experience 14:22-33). A strong wind illustrates why we worry. swept across the Sea of 1. We worry because Galilee. It was so powerful we’re vulnerable. As that the exhausted disciples human beings, we are could make no headway susceptible to many things. rowing into it. Then Jesus Disease may strike. The appeared, walking to them economy may change. We across the water. The may get stranded by an disciples were terrified. automobile breakdown or a After Jesus identified sudden airline strike. We Himself, Peter was skeptical. could get hit by a drunk “Lord, if it is You, command driver. We’re afraid someone me to come to You on the may say cutting words or water” (v.28). When Jesus offer harsh criticisms that said “Come,” by faith Peter will wound us deeply. walked out on the water We are frail, mortal, toward Him. sensitive human beings. We But then he looked are vulnerable physically, around him. He saw the emotionally, and spiritually. 8 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. We can get hurt in many layoff at work. Whatever ways. Like Peter, we are it is, it forces us to see our merely human and capable weakness. of drowning. We worry 3. We worry because because we are vulnerable. we distrust God. 2. We worry because Confronted with our we become aware of our vulnerability, we have a vulnerability. Most of the choice. We can turn our time we feel relatively safe. safety over to God and trust We can make our home Him with our apprehensions. secure. We can drive a Or we can take our well- reliable car and keep it in being into our own hands. good repair. We can get That’s what Peter did on the regular checkups. We can water. Confronted by his buy good insurance. We frailty, he lost faith in Jesus. can maintain peaceful Yet he knew he couldn’t save relationships. We take himself. care of ourselves physically, Jesus’ words to Peter are emotionally, and spiritually. revealing. “O you of little But then something faith,” He said (v.31). Peter happens that makes us stopped trusting Jesus. painfully aware of our When we no longer feel that vulnerability. We’re like we can trust Jesus with our Peter when he saw the lives, our feelings, or our wind and was afraid. It future, we worry. And that is could be an engine that sin because we are taking begins to knock. Or one of responsibilities on ourselves our children is ill. Or there’s that belong to the Lord. We pressure in our chest. Or we are stubbornly refusing to discover a mysterious lump. place ourselves in His strong Or we hear rumors of a hands. No wonder we worry! 9 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. WHAT CAN WE choices. First, she looked DO WITH OUR at things differently. She began to see her feelings WORRY? of vulnerability as an opportunity to grow, both L inda was a worrier. She’s emotionally and spiritually. the first to admit it. She She did that in two ways. worried about her She learned from the Bible husband’s job, the how to handle her worry. neighbor’s dog, the And she took some children’s lunches, practical steps to help her the car’s rattles, the break free. Oh, she still family’s insurance, the locks the house—and she church’s nursery, the roast should. But she is no longer they were having for dinner. crippled by feelings of Linda was particularly helplessness. concerned about the house We too can get to the being safe at night. She place where we can make made sure that every our worry work for us. window and door had a To turn our worry into double lock. Every night opportunity, we can take before going to bed, Linda the following four steps: made a couple of circuits 1. Turn Our Attention around the house to make To God. certain that all the doors 2. Trust Beyond and windows were securely Ourselves. fastened. She knew she 3. Talk To Someone worried too much. Who Cares. Linda is now free from 4. Throw Our Cares her worry. Her release came On The Lord. as a result of a series of 10 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. URN OUR ATTENTION TO GOD heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). He is God Almighty (Ps. 66:7). He is the sovereign Lord of all. Worriers feel that things are out of control—that something terrible is about Worriers have focused their to happen and they can’t eyes on the consequences stop it. When the questions of events that have not raised by those feelings yet happened. They feel create anxiety, worriers vulnerable and expect need to remember three the worst. They take important truths about God. responsibility for things that 1. God is everywhere are out of their control. But (Ps. 139:7; Jer. 23:23-24). if they will turn to God, they We can’t get to a place will find in His character the where God is not. There answer to their vulnerability. is no place, no matter God’s character is best seen how alone we may feel, in His Word. that God cannot be. He God Is In Charge. is everywhere! The Bible teaches that 2. God knows nothing happens in this everything (Job 7:20; world that is beyond the Ps. 33:13). He knows how knowledge and control afraid we are, how bad we of God. “The Lord has feel, what scares us. The established His throne in more worried we become, 11 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. the more we act as if said, “I’m an athlete. I’ve God were ignorant of our always made my body do situation. We don’t know whatever I wanted and my the future, but God does. body responded. But when He knows how everything is I tell myself I must stop going to turn out. He knows being anxious and stressing our needs. myself, I can’t.” The more 3. God is all-powerful he told himself to control (Gen. 17:1; 18:14; Mt. his anxiety, the worse it got. 19:26). Worriers feel that Then it was as if God no one has the power to spoke to him. “Who’s in stop the bad things that charge here?” “You are,” he might happen. Not even answered meekly. And as God, they think, can keep that truth and commitment their daughter from getting came to his mind, peace pregnant or their son out of flooded his heart. jail. But God has limitless God Can Carry Our power. The answer to the Burdens. The cares of life question, “Is anything too that weigh on us so heavily hard for the Lord?” (Gen. can be placed on the 18:14) is no! shoulders of God. He is William Backus, in The more concerned than we Good News About Worry, are about our health, our wrote about his brother-in- children and grandchildren, law, an athlete who was our loved one’s salvation, in the hospital recovering world peace. He helped from an angioplasty. The David kill the bear, the lion, procedure was successful, and the Philistine giant. He but he remained in danger protected David from the the next 24 hours. He was murderous rages of Saul. worried! As he lay there, he He kept him safe in enemy 12 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. country. Perhaps that’s the rock-strewn beach. A little reason David could write, boy was trying to carry a “Cast your burden on the sack of rocks he had Lord, and He shall sustain collected. He couldn’t keep you; He shall never permit up with his family. Once or the righteous to be moved” twice he fell. He didn’t have (Ps. 55:22). the strength to lug that big load. Then his big brother saw him. He went back, “Cast your burden picked him and his sack of on the Lord, rocks up, and carried them both. That is what God is and He shall waiting to do with us once sustain you.” we hold our arms out to Psalm 55:22 Him. “Commit your way to the Lord,” the psalmist said, “trust also in Him” (37:5). But how do we give our God Can Take Away burdens to God? How do we Our Fear. Worry is how place them on His shoulders we express our fear of the and leave them there? By future. We’re afraid of the acting on what we know. consequences of what lies We know that He is an all- ahead: What questions will powerful, trustworthy God. appear on the exam? How When we worry, we hold will I do at the dentist? Will back from trusting Him. We our city be hit by a tornado? are putting ourselves in His Worry began in Eden place. We’re saying we can after Adam and Eve had do better. We need to turn it sinned. They hid from God over to Him. because they were afraid of I was walking along a the consequences of their 13 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. choice to eat the forbidden faceless, powerless fruit (Gen. 3:10). “I was apprehensions of the future. afraid,” Adam said. Knowing that God is a good God—that nothing evil can originate in Him—helps How much better drive fear away. When we it is to fear One can say with David, “Good who loves you to and upright is the Lord” (Ps. 25:8), we find assurance. the point of giving When we are worried about up His Son than the future, we can follow the to be afraid of example of the psalmist and “taste and see that the Lord the nameless, is good” (34:8). faceless, powerless Accepting God’s love apprehensions for us also helps drive fear away. If we are to have any of the future. fear, the Bible tells us, it is to be a fear of God (Dt. 10:12,20; 13:4). Yet to fear David knew God’s Him is to love Him and to goodness and love by accept and feel secure in His experience. That’s why he wonderful love for us. How could tell us that even when much better it is to fear the he was in the darkest valleys Creator than anything He of life, he feared no evil (Ps. has created. How much 23:4). In Psalm 31 he wrote better it is to fear One who of terrible life experiences— loves you to the point of being forsaken by his friends giving up His Son than to (vv.11-12) and attacked by be afraid of the nameless, his enemies (vv.13,15). Yet 14 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. he could say, “But as for minds. We’re like a father me, I trust in You, O Lord” whose 3-year-old son is (v.14), and “My times are in the hospital fighting a in Your hand” (v.15). dangerous infection. He When we’re afraid, we goes to work while Mom can do something about it. stays by the bedside. But Time after time the Bible even while he works, part of tells us not to be afraid. Our his thinking is always in that responsibility, accepting the hospital room with his little goodness and love of God, boy. Every mother who has is to make the same choice seen her son go off to war David did. We must say, knows that feeling. So does “Therefore we will not fear” Dad when his daughter is (Ps. 46:2). on her first date or his God Can Sustain teenage son is late getting Us. In a context where he back with the car. had spoken of war, famine, God can sustain us and evil men, David said during those worrisome that those who trust in God times. David wrote, “Cast “shall be satisfied” (Ps. your burden on the Lord, 37:19). The basic meaning and He shall sustain you” here is that they will not (Ps. 55:22). The God who tremble; they will not be cannot be moved will keep shaken. In the midst of the us from being shaken by the legitimate concerns of life we worries and cares of life. need not quiver with fear. God Will Always Why? Because God can Be With Us. Worry is a sustain us by His power. solitary burden. We tend to When we feel vulnerable, carry it alone. The more we we become distracted by the worry, the more alone and concerns that are on our helpless we feel. But as 15 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. children of God we are dismayed, for I am your never alone. We will never God” (41:10). be abandoned. David Joshua knew of it. God assured us of God’s said to him, “As I was with presence in Psalm 139, Moses, so I will be with you. where he said that God I will not leave you nor knew everything about him forsake you” (Josh. 1:5). before he was even born Moses knew of it. “By (vv.13-16), and that he faith he forsook Egypt, not could never escape God’s fearing the wrath of the Spirit (vv.7-12). Morning or king; for he endured as night, land or sea, heaven seeing Him who is invisible” or hades, God is there. (Heb. 11:27). Yes, David knew of The disciples knew of God’s ever-present care. it. Jesus said to them just He wrote, “When my father before He ascended, “I am and my mother forsake me, with you always, even to the then the Lord will take care end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). of me” (Ps. 27:10). Who We know of it too. When among us didn’t fear Jesus gave that promise to parental abandonment as His disciples, He was also children? Sometimes those talking to us. terrible feelings return to The next time you start to us. It is then that we must be overcome by worry, turn remember the promise of to God and remember that God that He will always (1) He is in charge, (2) He be with us. can carry your burdens, (3) Isaiah knew of God’s He can take away your fear, ever-present care. The Lord (4) He can sustain you, and said through him, “Fear not, (5) He will never leave you. for I am with you; be not 16 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. RUST BEYOND OURSELVES living by faith. You’re too concerned about food and clothing and things. Put Me and My kingdom first and you’ll be all right.” Remember, the Lord had just been telling His followers to make choices that would lay up treasures The major teaching on in heaven, not on earth worry in the New Testament (6:19-24). We can almost was given by Jesus in the hear the silent objections Sermon on the Mount (Mt. of the crowd, “Oh, sure. If I 6:25-34). In that passage lived like He says—always He gave us the antidote to thinking about heaven—I’d worry. He was speaking to starve to death. A person’s devoutly religious people got to eat, you know.” (like many of us) who were That’s probably the reason looking for the Messiah but Jesus began His teaching were not ready for His with the command, “Do coming. Jesus mentioned not worry” (v.25). worry 6 times in these 10 Causes Of Worry verses. What He had to say (Mt. 6:25-32). Unless His speaks to us as we cope followers stopped worrying with our fast-paced, stress- about the cares of earth, filled, materialistic society. they would never be free Jesus said, in essence, to store up treasures in “You are filled with worry heaven. Jesus said that because you aren’t really worrying about the essential 17 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. needs of life is unnecessary. become so accustomed If God takes care of the to our materialism that birds of the air and the we worry about what will flowers of the fields, He happen if we don’t keep up. certainly will take care Jesus said that all our of His children. worrying is unnecessary. We do have a He recognized it as a real responsibility to work problem, but a needless one. and provide for the needs Birds have to eat, but they of ourselves and our don’t get migraines worrying families. The apostle Paul about it. Flowers “wear said, “If anyone will not clothes,” but they don’t work, neither shall he eat” have to be treated for (2 Th. 3:10). Jesus wasn’t ulcers. Why? Because teaching that we are to their heavenly Father become passive recipients. takes care of them. His point was that we Worry’s Hidden should not fret, worry, or be Agenda (v.30). The anxious about our needs. underlying cause of worry Many of us, however, are is identified in Jesus’ words, worried about much more “O you of little faith.” We’re than meeting the essential burdened down with care needs of life. We want to be because we do not trust seen at the “in” restaurants, God. We don’t really believe have a car a little better that He is running our world than our neighbors, build efficiently. We’ve stopped a house with a little more trusting Him to care for square footage, dress in the our needs, even though He latest fashions, and many promised that He would. other things that our society We’ve shifted our eyes views as important. We’ve from heaven to earth. We’re 18 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. trusting in ourselves instead He said, “and all these of trusting in God. We’ve things shall be added to taken the responsibility for you” (v.33). Exercise faith. the future onto our own Give priority to God and shoulders. We feel that you’ll lay up treasures in we can’t trust God with heaven. important matters like When we listen to Jesus, that any longer! we realize that getting rid of worry is a matter of choice. When we choose to trust Worry is unbelief God rather than ourselves, our worries will subside. in disguise. The answer lies with us. It comes down Are you obsessed with to the fact worry about having enough to eat? What you’ll wear? If that we’re not your house is big enough? trusting God. Whether you’ve got the right car? If your retirement is secure? A lot of Christians in Jesus’ Antidote For our world have learned from Worry (vv.33-34). Jesus hard experience that those said that worry boils down things aren’t nearly as to a matter of priorities. important as we think, and We worry about food and that God keeps His Word to clothing, and competing, provide. They’ve learned and controlling the future, that the things that nourish instead of concentrating faith are the most important, on what is most important. because in the real tough “Seek first the kingdom of issues of life it is faith that God and His righteousness,” they need the most. 19 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  20. 20. ALK TO SOMEONE WHO CARES prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7). In Paul’s letter to the There are three words Philippians, we find an used by Paul in Philippians important alternative to 4:6 that describe what we worry. Instead of giving in are to be doing instead of to our vulnerability, we can worrying. take positive action that will 1. Prayer. The word help us to stop worrying. Paul used here is the most Paul gave the believers in common word for talking to Philippi a specific command: God—prayer. It refers to “Be anxious for nothing” prayer in general and is (4:6). It was the same most likely related to the command Jesus gave on the worship aspect of prayer. Galilean hillside (Mt. 6:25). When we pray, we are Jesus went on to explain the to acknowledge God’s futility of worry, but Paul greatness and give Him our told the Philippians that adoration, devotion, and instead of worrying they respect. Recognizing God as were to pray. the sovereign Lord, we are Be anxious for nothing, to bring our worries to Him. but in everything by 2. Supplication. The 20 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  21. 21. second word Paul used in When we pray as an describing his alternative to alternative to worry, we are worry is supplication. This removing the burden from refers to the expressing of our shoulders and placing our needs to God. These it on the broad shoulders of are our earnest requests, Almighty God. And once we our desperate cries for help. trust Him with our cares, These supplications can be we can thank Him for being for ourselves or for others. the kind of God who loves When you are worried, us, who is keenly interested take that worry to God. in our problems, and who Ask for His help. Earnestly has the power to answer petition Him. The God who our prayer. told us to ask, seek, and Bring your vulnerabilities knock will give, help us find, to the One who has the and answer (Mt. 7:7-8). power to do something 3.Thanksgiving. The about them. When you third word describing the wake up at night worried prayers that are to replace about your sister or your our worry is thanksgiving. job or your little boy, pray. Sometimes we become so Train your mind to stop concerned with our problems and redirect all the energy that we forget the gracious from worry, which is ways God has worked in the destructive, to prayer, past. We fail to see that He which is constructive. Ask has dealt with us according God to help, to intercede, to to His grace and mercy and convict, to open a door, to has met all of our needs. It work the kind of miraculous helps to calm us when we change only He can work. remember how God has When you’re cared for us in the past. overwhelmed by the 21 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. frightening prospects of the You’ll be pleased at how future, pray. Express your much that will help keep apprehensions to the Lord. those worries from crippling Turn them over to Him. and controlling you. While you’re waiting for a traffic light and you’re worrying about paying Bring your the bills, pray. Ask God to provide, then move on. vulnerabilities God hears your prayers. to the One who In an article in Focal has the power Point, a publication of Denver Seminary, Paul to do something Borden gave a good action about them. suggestion for worriers. He recommended making a worry list. When you’re Then Borden suggested worried about something, that you turn that prayer list write it down. Perhaps it’s into an action list. As God the health of your aging gives you insight and mother, or replacing the confidence, do something refrigerator, or changing about those cares. Even if churches. Write it down. you only do a little, you’ll It will help you when you soon find that a paralyzing see that specific worry in anxiety is replaced by a black and white. healthy, manageable concern Next, turn that worry for the responsibilities of life. list into a prayer list. Pray Are you worried? Pray. about those things you If you’ve done that, pray are concerned about. Pray again. Use the energy of about them specifically. worry to pray instead. 22 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. HROW OUR CARES ON THE LORD terms of our own happiness. We must be humble enough to accept what we receive from God’s mighty hand. 2. Giving Our Worry To God. We are to put our helpless feelings of worry into those same Peter offered an alternative all-powerful hands. We are to worry while writing to to cast our cares on Him. people undergoing intense We are to entrust the future persecution: “Humble to the One who cared yourselves under the mighty enough for us to send His hand of God, that He may Son to die for us. But that exalt you in due time, goes against the philosophy casting all your care upon of our day. “You don’t Him, for He cares for you” need anyone but yourself,” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Two steps are we’re told. “You’ve got to involved in this process. watch out for number one, 1.Accepting What because nobody else will.” We Can’t Change. Have you been Instead of fuming and dragging around a big stewing, or avoiding reality load of worries? You know, by denying our worry, we worries that you’re too are to humbly accept that proud or ashamed to talk these circumstances are about? Give them to God. part of our life. We don’t You’ve dragged them have the right to dictate the around long enough! 23 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. A BIBLICAL everything to be perfect CASE STUDY for the Master. She felt frustrated and helpless. OF A WORRIER “Distracted with much serving,” she glanced into D octor Luke gave the living room, hoping us a valuable look Mary would come and help. at how Jesus helped Enthralled by the words of a worrier in his account of Jesus, Mary showed no the Lord’s visit to the home signs of moving. of Mary, Martha, and Finally, Martha Lazarus (Lk. 10:38-42). could stand it no longer. As He and His disciples She marched into the traveled, they stopped living room. “Lord,” she for a visit at Martha’s demanded, hands on invitation. I can envision her hips, “do You not the following scene. care that my sister has left Caring for the needs me to serve alone?” Then of the group was no small she gave the Lord an order: task. While Martha was “Tell her to help me” (v.40). busy in the kitchen with all Perhaps you are a the preparations (cutting up Martha—or you live the vegetables for the salad, with one. Jesus’ patient, getting out the good china, understanding response to preparing the main dish, Martha is a wonderful model getting the dessert ready), for you. Note what He did. Mary was sitting idly at First, He made her the feet of Jesus. aware of her worry. “Martha, Things weren’t coming Martha,” the Lord answered, together for Martha. All “you are worried and that work—and she wanted troubled about many things” 24 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  25. 25. (v.41). I believe there was has chosen that good part,” real tenderness in His voice He told Martha, “which will as He repeated her name. not be taken away from her” He addressed the issue with (v.42). The meal would be Martha. He let her know she forgotten, but the words of had a problem to be dealt Jesus would stay in Mary’s with. There’s nothing wrong heart and bear fruit for with being a good hostess. eternity. There’s nothing wrong with What if Martha had wanting things the very best. come and joined Mary? Jesus didn’t judge Martha. They would never have He drew her attention to eaten, right? Wrong! They her worry. all could have helped. Or Second, Jesus showed Jesus could have spoken a her that worry is a choice. gourmet 7-course meal into Martha had chosen to existence. become filled with anxiety I believe Martha learned over the preparations. from Jesus. He was again at Her choice had led her to their house for dinner a year criticize her sister, to imply or so later. The family was that Jesus was insensitive, giving the dinner in Jesus’ and to give Him an order. honor to celebrate the Without condemning raising of Lazarus (Jn. Martha, Jesus pointed 12:1-11). We are told out that Mary had made simply, “Martha served” a choice too (v.42). (v.2). She was still the Third, Jesus told Martha worker, but this time she that the choice was between was not overwhelmed by that which is earthly and the responsibility. I believe temporary and that which is she learned to control her heavenly and eternal. “Mary tendency to worry. 25 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  26. 26. JOANIE’S STORY I had become agoraphobic, which The following story is is a dread of open spaces, taken from an interview a fear of going out. For me, with author Joanie Yoder, it was a fear of going into which was recorded for the the supermarket. It was so RBC television program intense that I would panic Day Of Discovery. and go into a sweat. I was afraid that I would go M y life was filled totally insane in front of with anxiety and people—or even worse, die. worry, but I was So sometimes I would unaware of it. I was able interrupt my shopping, to cover it up, like a lot of shove my cart into a people do, until I had an corner, and run home. As experience that caused me soon as I was in the house, to hit rock bottom. It was I would have this sudden then that I was forced to relief of being safe and face my anxieties, my fears, secure again. my dread, my worries. I thought I was the only Catherine Marshall once person who felt like this. said that the greatest My eating habits changed, discovery we can make my sleep was erratic, I was is to realize that our own trembly and shaky, and strength is not enough. I I was generally anxious experienced that discovery. about life and all its I had nothing left of my responsibilities. I couldn’t own inner resources. I face anything. I felt I was didn’t seem to have the all washed up by the time strength, physically or I was in my early thirties. emotionally, to go on. There were underlying 26 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  27. 27. reasons for my difficulty. breakdown, but a As I look back now, I breakdown of my realize that there were three self-sufficiency. reasons for my inability to From my own manage life. One was experience, and also extreme immaturity. I in observing other people was underdeveloped who are in this painful emotionally to handle situation of running out of responsibility. Second, their resources, one of the I had developed a characteristics is a need to bitterness habit. I didn’t control—the need to control really recognize it as such, life, circumstances, people, because I felt I was always and unwittingly, God— justified in feeling as I did. because we feel afraid of Mine was always a just what might happen. We cause. And then the third feel that if we can control reason, which I think is things and make things go common to all of us, was a certain way, we will be a tendency to be self- less afraid. sufficient. I tried to do My problem was that everything in my own I couldn’t feel in control strength. And when I of my self-protection— realized that I couldn’t protection from the things do it on my own, I felt that that I was afraid of. So I I ought to be able to. began to build a cocoon Those three factors around myself. That cocoon had a crumbling effect. It became as small as the led me toward a breakdown word implies. I had a tiny that I needed. I think it’s space in which I felt safe a breakdown we all need. and secure—the four walls It wasn’t a nervous of my house. In fact, I so 27 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  28. 28. cocooned my life that it showed me four disciplines, contained a population of which still have a profound one—me. effect in my life: read, pray, During this time, I was a trust, and obey. Read the Christian. And even though Bible—something to feast I strongly believed in God, on. Pray—Someone to He had no scope in my life. feast with. This goes beyond I was terribly unhappy. And the boundary of a little time even worse, I felt that I had of prayer. It goes out into missed the unique purpose the marketplace, out into for which God had created our cars, out into our me. circumstances. Trust— I had to hit rock bottom. trusting God for the I had to come to the end things we cannot control. of myself before I could Releasing them, not into discover the sufficiency thin air but to God. Obey— of Christ and allow Him God wants us to obey Him to change me. God began in the things we can control. to rehabilitate me according These four disciplines to what Paul described in are very familiar. The whole Philippians 1:6, “That He idea of dependence on who has begun a good God is an obvious truth work in you [which starts scripturally but an obscure at conversion] will complete truth experientially. We it until the day of Jesus must actually practice Christ.” The process doesn’t them, not just know about take 6 easy lessons or 6 them, talk about them, or months, but continues until believe fiercely about them. “the day of Jesus Christ.” The blessing of being in a Early on in my progress weakened condition and toward wholeness, God running out of our own 28 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. resources is that it helps stretched me, He would motivate us to actually do come through for me. the things that we already God eventually led believe. me out of the cocoon that As I began to incorporate I had built around myself these disciplines into my with a population of one. daily living, I found that He did this by involving it cultivated an intimate me in the leadership of a relationship with Christ neighborhood Bible study. that developed confidence I believe I was able to in Him. He began to prove minister to the women in His sufficiency to me at the group effectively because small levels. And as He they realized I needed Christ continued to come through as much as they did. So I for me, I began to trust Him wasn’t a threat. I was an more and more. encouragement to their The four disciplines of growth. reading, praying, trusting, God then led my and obeying interacted husband and me overseas. with one another. This One day we met a drug interaction meant that there addict on the London was something for me to subway, and we brought do. But as I did, it set God him home to live with us. free to do the things that Through him, and a few only He could do. So I others that we brought began to find less and less home to live with us, I reason for worry. It became had my moment of truth. superfluous. I began to Up until then I had felt realize that whatever He somewhat apologetic that I led me to undertake, even had to depend on God for if it were something that things that many people do 29 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  30. 30. with very little effort. But to Christ, assuming for through my involvement discussion’s sake that they with these drug-dependent want to be won to Christ? people, I realized that their Would they prefer to be cure, as well as mine, was won through strong people not independence. The key who look like they don’t was in being God- know what it is to be weak? dependent. Or would they prefer to be Through my experience won through weak people with drug addicts, I who have discovered how discovered that dependence to be strong? on God was something for I believe that without which we were created. I exception they would prefer also learned that what had the latter. Although we may been effective in a crisis think we are doing God’s was effective all the time. service and impressing So I found that I could offer people for God by coming to a drug-dependent person across as strong people, we a radical, shocking remedy. may be depriving them of They had been taught to get the last hope they had that rid of all the dependencies God might have something in their lives. But I was able for them. This is because to show them that the their reaction is not, “Oh, answer was in moving from that’s for me!” Instead they drug-dependence to God- say, “I could never be like dependence—not replacing that.” But if they see a drugs with God, but moving weak person who has to the one dependence for learned to be strong and which we were created. is still learning to take that How do you think strength from God, they will people prefer to be won be filled with hope. They 30 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  31. 31. will say, “Wow! If that story is about a woman works for her, maybe there’s who had nothing in herself something in it for me.” but found everything she I really identify with the needed through a life of average person. This is not dependence on God. It’s only a fact, it is also my not a sad state of affairs heart’s desire. Except for to have to depend on the truth that we’re all God—it’s God’s perfect unique creations, I’m very design. The creature ordinary. Without Christ I becomes his or her very would be a dead loss. In best when depending fact, I was introduced this on the Creator. I used to way in a meeting once. depend on God as a last They said, “This is Joanie, resort. Now it’s the first who without Christ would thing I do! be a dead loss.” At The beginning of one time, that kind of progress in my spiritual introduction would have life was a rock-bottom appalled me. But God has experience. I didn’t look brought me to the place in good. I didn’t feel good. But my life where He’s allowed it was the most spiritual me to be a spectacle of moment in my life. I hope weakness so that I can this is an encouragement go out and share with the to others who are at that world and testify to others point. So often we think what God can do in and that to be spiritual we must through human weakness. always be on top. That’s So if He can do it in and not true. To be spiritual is through me, why not them? to come to the place where Dependence on God is there’s nothing of us and the theme of my life. My all of God. 31 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  32. 32. THE GREATEST for our sin. Then came the WORRY miracle we needed. Jesus rose from the dead as proof N othing makes us that God had accepted His feel more helpless sacrifice for us. There is than the thought nothing we can do; it’s a of dying. The end of life miracle of grace God has confronts us with the issue already done. of what lies beyond. The Second, the way to Bible says it’s either heaven is not by works heaven or hell. And hell but by faith. Our response is definitely something to to the death of Christ and worry about! God’s offer of love is to Ask most people if believe on Jesus. We can’t they’re going to heaven lose it once we have it. and they’ll say, “I hope so” Salvation is a free gift of or “Maybe, if I don’t blow grace that cares for our it.” If they are honest, they spiritual vulnerability. will admit that the thought Once we believe in the of going to hell terrifies finished work of Christ on them. the cross, we don’t have to But God said in the worry that we’ll lose our Bible that we can know chance at heaven when beyond any doubt that we we sin. God has accepted are on our way to heaven. us in Christ. He could not And He told us why. write us off without writing First, the requirements off His own Son, and He for heaven have been met would never do that! Trust for us by Christ. He lived a in Christ, and eternity perfect life and then died on will be nothing to worry the cross to pay the penalty about! 32 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  33. 33. Get your free Bible Resources catalog! Discovery Series booklets can be valuable guides to help you learn what the Bible says about a broad range of topics. Each 32-page booklet can be used in your personal Bible study or in a small-group setting. Your free Bible Resources catalog includes a brief description of each Discovery Series booklet. To get your copy, write to us at the address below and ask for a catalog. Or follow the link below to request your copy today. USA: PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 Canada: Box 1622, Windsor, ON N9A 6Z7