Worry, worry, worry — and more worry! If it could be gathered up, bottled and sold, we’d all be millionaires because it exists in endless supply.
Worry is always lurking nearby in the shadows. Its foreboding presence has a nefarious way of afflicting our bodies, compromising our emotional wellbeing, and vexing our souls. Are you familiar with it? I bet you're well acquainted.
Most humans are cognizant of how worry tends to grind away at our species collectively — wearing us down physically, psychologically, and spiritually. It’s a malicious, mortal enemy. But we struggle to ward it off and keep it in check.
In my own experience, I have found that excessive worry will weaken my body, derail my mind, spoil my mood, and interfere with my mode of operation. Let me confess: worry is not my friend.
Believers struggle occasionally with worry and anxiety — if not at a pathological or clinical level, at least within the normal range of nervousness. All too often, our minds are ambushed and overrun by negativity and fear. Our emotional house is ransacked as we fixate on problems, agonize over relationships, are preoccupied by responsibilities, and obsess concerning the future’s bleak outlook.
It almost seems we’re bent on worrying ourselves to death or at least worrying ourselves sick. Worry is a chronic symptom and lamentable byproduct of our finitude. We are limited and fallible but resist this existential reality.
I often talk with clients and church members about the many things in their lives that are weighing them down. It’s not uncommon for people to feel like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. What a heavy burden to bear!
Too much to do; too little time to do it. Concerns about today, tomorrow, and the next. Stress regarding the countless responsibilities and chores that are mounting up. Dismay about finances and careers. Consternation pertaining to parents, children, spouses, friends, or significant others. Can you relate to any of these things?
Jesus understood the human condition better than anyone else, so he knew of humankind’s tendency to fall prey to worrying. That’s what he said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will ear or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:25, 27 ESV).
Worry tends to creep into our lives unannounced like an unwelcomed visitor who overstays his welcome and takes up permanent residence. We fret about all manner of things that eventually get the better of us and bring us down. So why do we worry so much? There are a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- We worry because we want things to go our way but they often don’t. You see, we have our own plans, agenda and schedule for how we think life is supposed to unfold.
- We worry because we don’t tolerate the unknown too well. We like predictability and order. For the most part, we really don't like surprises.
- We worry because we care about our families and friends. We may fear for their safety and wellbeing and want to them to be spared pain and suffering.
- We worry because there is evil in the world. Satan is at work. There are people out there who mean to do our loved ones and us harm.
- We worry because bad things happen to good people all the time. Natural disasters, economic calamities, violent crimes, tragic accidents, and life-threatening illnesses occur without warning.
- We worry because we have difficulty letting go of our illusion of control. We want to handle things our way and call the shots so that things go according to plan.
- We worry because deep-down inside we realize that we’re really not in control of most things around us. Life has a way of humbling us and bringing us to our knees.
- Ultimately, we worry because we lack faith and trust in God.
What is the solution to our nonstop worrying? Pray more fervently. Study God’s Word more earnestly. Trust the Lord more deeply. Focus your attention on blessings in your life. Keep your eyes on Jesus!