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To worry or not to worry
August 3, 2009
by Dr. Phil Geoffrion, Albion Evangelical Free Church, rural Cokato

What’s worrying you right now? What’s nagging at the back of your mind? To what do your thoughts constantly return?

There are plenty of possible provocations these days – like the sagging economy, job loss, declining morality, family turmoil, failing health, social injustice, strained international relations, wars, famine, and a general malaise of loneliness and feelings of failure.

Worry is defined as a troubled state of mind characterized by distress, uneasiness, anxiety or care. We know Christian people shouldn’t worry. But not worrying is easier said than done; knowing is one thing, doing is quite another.

If we’re honest, we catch ourselves worrying from time to time, don’t we? The more we worry, the worse we feel, and then somehow, we feel guilty, helpless, and sometimes hopeless. Then, we worry about having those feelings.

How can we break the vicious cycle? We can begin by taking heart from a study on worry that reveals 40 percent of our worries never happen; 30 percent are past and therefore, we have no control over them; 12 percent are imaginary health ills; and 10 percent are about friends and relatives, who are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

This leaves only 8 percent of our worries as real causes for concern! And even real causes for concern are not furthered by worry, are they?

Psalm 37 in the Bible suggests that one antidote to worry is to trust in the Lord. Trust sees life as it really is; worry sees life cross-eyed. Trust calls on the Lord in prayer for faith and understanding; worry relies on self for solutions.

Worry and trust are mutually exclusive. Attempting such spiritual acrobatics is as useless as trying to sit down and stand up at the same time.

Another antidote for worry is doing good. When we are faithfully doing the will of God, we don’t have the opportunity, the desire, the time, or the energy to sit around worrying, fretting, becoming angry or jealous. Try it sometime – it really works.

A third antidote for worry is to take delight in the Lord. Some of us have psyched ourselves up not to worry for a minute, an hour, or maybe even a whole day. We have determined it our duty not to worry – it is a sin to worry, it doesn’t do any real good to worry, we are the worse off for worrying – so we won’t worry. This motivation is better than no motivation, but it falls short of God’s solution.

God invites us to find our delight in the Lord himself, and not in the fact that we aren’t worrying. God says to each of us who will listen: “Come sit with me awhile. Give yourself to me without reservation. Enjoy my company. Delight in me and my dealings with you. If you do, you won’t have any reason to worry. You won’t have to worry. You won’t want to worry. Once you’ve tried the tranquil life I offer, you won’t ever want to go back to the old life of fretting, worrying, and stewing in a pot of jealousy, anger, and discontent. How about it? Will you adopt my tranquil life?”

The promise of Psalm 37.4 is this: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Will you take him at His word? Will you take advantage of His generous offer?

To worry or not to worry – that is the question. The answer is up to you!