Anxiety disorders are prevalent in the USA. With more then 40 million Americans daily coping with anxiety related “illness”, worry is a commonplace companion for many. Factors like genetics, chemistry and even personality contribute to the highly hidden struggle attributed to anxiety disorders today. Worry and anxiety are nothing new, however. I want to look at this issue because thoughts form our habits and lives. What we worry about reveals what we think about God and His ability or care for us. If we are filled with worry, we will not give freely; we will not live freely. Worry doesn’t free us at all but convinces us to settle for safe, comfortable, non-risky lives. Is this how we were meant to live? This is why dealing with worry is so important: Remember that what we think becomes “our” reality even if it’s not true reality.
Read through these three translations of Matthew 6:34
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 MSG
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. Matthew 6:34 TLB
So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. Matthew 6:34 The Voice
Give Your Attention To What Is NOW.
Time is fleeting. It is therefore essential to not waste time focusing on things that cannot be changed or may never happen. Famous British statesman and leader Winston Churchill said:
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
Yet many of us do that very thing: focus on the past or the future; each with worry. Many of the things we fear or worry about never actually come to pass. We expend lots of energy, resources and time trying to avoid the imagined or the unknown. Jesus challenges us to simply deal with what we know and trust Who we know.
The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he had to let go of the worries of the past, what others thought of him, things he had done and give attention to who God had called him to be now.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
Is a lot of your time going to worrying about your past? Mistakes? Sins? Choices? Regrets? Take a little bit of time and focus on what God is doing NOW in your life. Think about that!
Live One Day At A Time
Not knowing how much time we have, worry bemoans us to assume what tomorrow holds instead of trusting God’s hands which are shaping the future. The book of James tells us that our lives are like vapors:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not knowwhat your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14
God has entrusted us with today and wants us to entrust Him with tomorrow. By allowing us to wake and breathe today, God has given us the invitation to walk freely without fear and anxiety with Him through everything we will face. Seek to live today, not re-live yesterday or attempt to predict tomorrow. Live one day at a time.
Live Faithfully Is The Task
Worry is limiting and debilitating. It prevents us from experiencing a life of faith in God. By subverting God’s authority in our lives, worry demands we take control of as much as we can to have “peace of mind.” Even though God wants us to “plan” for the future, God is asking us to trust His plan for our future. His ways are higher than ours as Isaiah points out:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
God is telling us to trust Him when even when we don’t understand what He is doing. His desire is for us to be faithful with what we know we are to do regardless of the potential outcome or perceived results. Worry is essentially the opposite of faith because we are trusting more in our own understanding than in God’s knowledge. For any Christian, faith is to be a defining marker in our lives. Depending on God’s providential plan, what you are facing today or in life in general is an opportunity to either live faithfully or with worry. Steven Covey, author of the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People said:
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Steven Covey
Is God challenging you to leave worry behind and live filled with faith? Share you thoughts and comments below.
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Creative Arts and Mission Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA