We like it when things stay the same. But change happens all the time. Relationships change, jobs change, our kids change, the person looking back at us in the mirror changes, which I find offensive, but that’s life. We naturally want things to stay the same.
When things change, we worry. Worry is defined as “mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated; anxiety.” Worry is anxiety. Anxiety is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”
In a biblical sense, worry is where we think we know more than God. Worry is where we display our lack of faith. It’s where we tell the Creator of the universe, from the smallest atom to the biggest star in the sky that we don’t think He can handle our problem.
It is natural to worry. God knows that. That’s why He had to tell us over and over in the Bible not to do it.
• Isaiah 35:4 says “Be strong, fear not: Behold, your God will come with vengeance, Even God with a recompense; He will come and save you.” We are not to fear, because God is on our side.
• Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
• Matthew 10:28-31 says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” See my last post about sparrows.
• Matthew 13:22 is a verse from the parable of the sower. Jesus tells about the four different kinds of soil on which the seed is sown, and one of the types is thorny ground, where the thorns sprung up and choked the new plant. Verse 22 says, “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Worry affects our relationship with God.
• Luke 12:25 asks, ““And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” Worry doesn’t actually achieve anything, it just lowers our spirits.
• Philippians 4:6 There’s a funny story about this verse. In the King James Version, this verse reads, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” The word “careful” really means anxious (in the English of 1787, the word “careful” could mean “full of care/worry”). When I was in Bible college I took a class called Homiletics, which was where I learned how to preach. Our first assignment was to give a short, 10 minute sermon on one verse of the Bible. I was given Galatians 6:1. I memorized the verse, looked up the meaning of each Greek word, studied the context of Galatians, read several commentaries, came up with an outline of the main points I wanted to make, added scriptural support for each, and threw in some illustrations. One of my classmates did not prepare at all for his sermon. His verse was Philippians 4:6. When it was his turn, he got up and read the verse “Be careful for nothing.” He then proceeded to give an impassioned speech about how we as Christians need to take more risks in life, because sometimes we are too careful, too cautious. You could almost hear a pin drop, if it weren’t for the sound of our collective jaws hitting the floor. I couldn’t believe it: he was totally winging it! Needless to say, he didn’t last long. The verse means “Don’t Worry, instead, tell God your problems.”
If you want to be free of worry, then trust in the words of Christ in Matthew 6:25-34.
Back in October many of the nurses at St Vincent including me took a $300 pay cut at work. That week I wrote the following words here on my blog, “God is still in charge. He knew I would be taking a pay cut next month. He knew, and He is still Yahweh Yireh, The Lord who Provides. We really need to stop allowing our financial situation to determine our level of felt security. Do you feel financially secure? If you lost your job would you feel less secure? If you lost your job, would God not care about you anymore?”
And here I am. I lost my job. It’s almost as if God took my words and just like with Job turned them right back at me: “Oh? You’ll trust me even if you lose your job? We’ll see.” Tune in next week when I write on my blog about how God would never let me win a million dollars. But seriously, what I said in my blog post is as true today as it was the day I wrote it. God is still in charge. Philippians 4:19 says that God will supply every need according to His riches in Christ Jesus. “According to” means “in accordance with.” A synonym is “corresponding to.” God is all powerful, and every resource is available to Him. That means that since He will supply our needs according to His riches, we can rest assured that, if we truly need it, in God’s plan, He will give it to us.
What do you truly need? Do you want to know what the number one cause of death is? Hypoxia. That’s a medical term that means “not enough oxygen.” Have you ever in your life thanked God for continually providing the air that you need? We need air. The World Health Organization lists the top ten causes of death.
• Number one is heart attacks. A heart attack is when the cells in the heart don’t get enough oxygen, and they die, causing a decrease in function of the heart. If enough heart tissue dies, then the heart can’t pump the blood with its oxygen to the rest of the body, and the body dies.
• Number two is stroke. That’s where a part of your brain doesn’t get enough blood supply, so the brain cells die due to lack of oxygen. If enough brain cells die, you die.
• Numbers three and four are pneumonia and COPD. That’s where the lungs get infected to the point that your body doesn’t get enough air.
Are you sensing a trend? Every single one of the top ten causes of death ultimately happens because the cells of the body are starved of air. But do we ever think about air? No. We just keep on breathing, about 14-20 times a minute, without even thinking about how God has not failed in all our years to keep us breathing.
John MacArthur says in his book, “Anxiety Attacked” “Christians who worry believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, take them from hell to heaven, put them into His kingdom, and give them eternal life, but just don’t think He can get them through the next couple of days. That is pretty ridiculous. We can believe God for the greater gift and then stumble and not believe Him for the lesser one.”
The alternative to worry is obvious: trust. When we worry, we display a lack of trust. When we trust, we display a lack of worry. I believe that worry and trust live on a continuum. Worry is on one end, and trust is on the other. I trust my children, but I don’t trust them completely. If I had left Nathan home alone when he was ten, I would have trusted him less than I do now, and worried more about him burning the house down. Christ described the multitude in Matthew 6 as being “of little faith.” He said the same thing to the disciples when they were in the boat during the storm, and when they worried about the bread. In contrast, he said to the centurion in Matthew 8:10 “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Perhaps the best example though, is the man in Mark 9:17-27. He brought his demon possessed son to Jesus and asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes.” The man replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” He was saying “I trust you, please help me to trust you more.”
And so the question is: how much do you trust God? When you find yourself tempted to worry, remember that God loves you, He is in control, and He has promised to give you everything you need. In closing Psalm 94:19 says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul.” The multitude of my thoughts. That’s another way of saying “In all my cares, in all my troubles.” God is our comfort. He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.