“Worry is a futile thing, somewhat like a rocking chair, although it occupies your time, it doesn’t get you anywhere” (author unknown). In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned worrywarts of His day with the phrase “Take no thought” (KJV) four times. Modern versions render it “Do not worry.” Worrying seems harmless enough. No big deal, right? After all, everybody worries. John Haggai said, “You could write on countless American gravestones the epitaph: Hurried, Worried, Buried!” Can you relate?
The definition of the word “worry” reveals its nefarious nature—“To torment oneself with or to suffer from disturbing, negative thoughts.” It comes from an Old English word wyran which means, “To strangle, choke, bite, harass, or to tear at the throat with teeth.” The imagery is of a predator biting the neck of its prey to suffocate it. The enemy’s goal is to drain the spiritual life out of us with stress and anxiety. Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom wrote, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” Worry happens when we assume responsibility God never intended for us to have. Peter provided some sound advice, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Pt. 5:7). God invites us to unload all our heavy burdens on Him. Mary Crowley said, “Every evening I turn my worries over to God, He’s going to be up all night anyway!” We should often do what the old hymn suggests, “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”
Worry is an issue of faith—do we trust God or not? Worry is a sin because it is a symptom of a lack of trust in God. “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Mt. 6:30). Mahatma Ghandi said, “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” If a Hindu had that much insight, when will blood-washed, born-again, Spirit-filled Christians realize that God is in control? “Too many people have ulcers these days caused by mountain climbing over molehills.”
1. Don’t worry about daily provisions.
Centuries before supermarkets and shopping malls, Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt. 6:25). If God clothes and feeds the natural world, He’ll certainly provide for His spiritual family. Even when God feeds the birds, He doesn’t throw the food into their nests! Remember, God rained manna from heaven to feed the Israelites, but they still had to gather and prepare it for consumption. Notice too that God did not provide a weekly or monthly supply. Instead, He provided a daily supply, Why? So they would depend on Him every day. The Lord’s Prayer states, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Human tendency is to stockpile and hoard, but God wants us to trust Him day by day for provision.
The word “provision” contains the prefix “pro” meaning “before” and the root word “vision” which means “to see.” Put them together and you get “to see before.” In other words, Jehovah Jireh—The Lord Our Provider—sees our need in advance and begins to supply it. God placed the ram on Mount Moriah before Abraham arrived and realized he needed a substitute for Isaac. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Why worry about provision when your Father is the great Provider?
2. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
Jesus challenged His listeners, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Mt. 6:27). Another version reads, “Which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” We spend too much time obsessing and stressing out over things like traffic, weather, gas prices, aging, the stock market, the past, politics, etc. It’s counterproductive to worry about things we can’t change. Instead, Jesus told us to focus on our chief concern, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Mt. 6:33).
3. Don’t worry about the future.
“Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Mt. 6:34). Now, this does not mean that we shouldn’t plan or save for the future. If we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail. If we don’t pray and plan for the future, we won’t have a very good one. It means, “Don’t worry about the future, for God is already there!” To quote Corrie Ten Boom again, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Every tomorrow has two handles—the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. Billy Graham observed, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out right.” We can rest in the realization that God’s purpose and plan will ultimately be fulfilled. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t reveal our entire future to us all at once? First, it would probably overwhelm us. Secondly, He wants us to walk by faith. We may not know what the future holds, but we don’t have to worry because we know Who holds the future!
A modern beatitude reads, “Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry by day and too tired to worry by night.” Paul gave us the ultimate weapon to win the war against worry—“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Phil. 4:6). Why worry when you can pray?