How many of you worry? That word is not in the Bible, but synonyms such as “fret,” “anxious,” and “care” are. The word “fret” means to burn, to glow, to be kindled, to be wrath. When we fret, worry, or are anxious about something, it is anger towards God and everybody else. Psalm 37:1 NLT says: “Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.” In Philippians 4:6-7 NIV, Paul describes the ideal Christian life as one who is prayerful for everything and thankful for anything: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is not telling us we should have a happy-go-lucky attitude and fail to take life seriously. Nor is he saying we should not plan and think through a decision or situation. He is advising us to listen to the voice of faith and not the voice of fear. We are to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7). We are to cast our every care upon Him for He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).
The Caution Against Worry
Why? Because worry is so common and widespread. People of every age worry about something whether old or young, rich, or poor, saved or lost, in good and troubled times. People worry about everything. They worry about having enough money or how to keep it and spend it. People worry about what they have and do not have, what they said or did not say. People worry about their bodies, their souls, and their families.
Worry is so useless. Jesus taught that we cannot grow taller by worrying about it. Worry never solved any problem and never lifted a single burden. We should never worry about the things we can help. If you are in bed, cold and need more cover, worrying will not get you warm. Get up and find a blanket! We should also never worry about we cannot help. God does not expect us to live tearless lives. Sorrows and losses are real and cause us grief. But we are not to become fretful and feverish over it. If you cannot in any way change a situation, then accept it as part of God’s plan for your life.
Worry is so hurtful. David said in I Psalm 37:8 TLB: “Stop your anger! Turn off your wrath. Do not fret and worry—it only leads to harm.” Worry hurts the one who worries. Untold damage is done to people physically, mentally, and spiritually because they fretted over something. Worry ruins one’s health. It damages the digestive system and the heart, not to mention sleepless nights.
Worry hurts others. Our worrying causes those around us to worry. We quarantine people who have communicable diseases. Would it not be nice if worriers could be sent off to an island somewhere? Impossible!
Worry hurts God. What a disappointment we must be to the Lord when we stew over something. Here we are, children of the King, worry warts, moping and fretting. What a dishonor to God! Needless worry causes us to doubt His wisdom and power.
The Cure for Worry
We cannot get rid of worry by losing ourselves in drink, drugs, or a fool’s paradise. Stupid expressions like “Cheer up,” “things could be worse,” or “you only die once” offer no comfort.
Beloved, a cure is possible! There is a remedy taught in Scripture and verified in the lives of countless people. You say, “But you don’t know what I am going through right now.” It may be a broken home, wayward children, a loss of employment or a monetary crisis. But Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, was no softie who had been cushioned all his life. Take time to read his testimony in II Corinthians 11:22-28. He knew suffering and sorrow of every sort. He suffered the loss of all things. He knew what a prison was like. He gives us the cure for worry.
We can help some ourselves. We do not have to look through the bleak, dark window of despair. We can always look for the best instead of the worst. That is what Paul meant in Philippians 4:8 GW: “Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.” We can say with the prophet: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT) and enjoy His peace: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18 NIV).
The supreme answer is prayer, as Phil 4:6 indicates. Whatever causes you anxiety you should make a matter of prayer. And God will meet our needs by either removing that which causes our worry or giving us grace to bear it. Either way He will certainly give us peace. That is what Paul had while in a prison with a guard outside his cell. God too has a guard constantly on duty. It is His peace. Beloved, let us claim that promise and win the war over worry.