We are not what we think we are, but what we think, we are.” How we think and what we allow our minds to dwell on plays a remarkable role in determining the kinds of people we become. One cannot have a positive life with a negative mind.
Worry is a sin that is common to all of us. It might be one of the most consuming forms of negative thinking. One has said “concern draws us to God; worry pulls us away from Him.” Worry does nothing to empty tomorrow of its troubles. What it does do is empty today of its strength.
Worry begins in the mind, and is actually a manifestation of trusting myself instead of putting my trust in the Lord. It is a proven fact that a person can literally worry himself or herself sick.
So then, why do we all worry?
Thoughts are very real, very powerful. All of our thinking takes place in our conscious mind, and we exert great influence on this portion of our mind. Our subconscious mind is active when we are asleep, dreaming, or even under anesthesia. However, our conscious mind consistently feeds and shapes our subconscious mind. So, what we allow our minds to dwell on molds who we really become.
We must first understand what worry truly is. In Scripture, we are taught that it is actually a lack of faith in God. This, in reality, is sin on our part. Our loving Heavenly Father knows this better than do we. “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are but dust” (Psa 103:14, ESV) and He loves for us to trust Him. David, in Psalm 37, pens five little phrases that will help us conquer this sin. “Trust in the Lord” (v3); “Delight yourself also in the Lord” (v4); “Commit your way unto the Lord” (v5); “Rest in the Lord” (v7); and “Wait on the Lord” (v34). In just one Psalm, we have five phrases or commands with promises that give us the antidote against worry. But, oh, how hard it is for us to learn these gems, and to put them into daily practice!
It has been shown that of all we worry about, 92% never happens. Of the remaining 8% that does happen, we can only affect half of that (a total of 4%) in any way. Therefore, worry is irrelevant. A famous philosopher was quoted as saying on his deathbed, “My life has been filled with terrible tragedies, numerous illnesses, and unspeakable calamities, the sum of which has never happened to me.”
Worry is also irreverent. Every time we lose sleep or develop another ulcer going over a myriad of negative thoughts, we are taking upon ourselves what should be committed to the Lord. The five phrases above are all about Him. Worry, on the other hand, is all about me. In this age of ever-increasing selfishness (2Tim 3:2), worry is, in essence, an act of selfishness on my part. Every time I obsess over what I should leave in the capable hands of the Lord, it is an act of sin and irreverence.
Worry reveals a rather embarrassing lack of faith. One has said that, as Christians, we need to leave the realm of worry, and enter the arena of faith. Worry is wrong thinking, which leads to wrong feelings. Before we realize it, our hearts and minds are devastated, and incessant worry can strangle us. This is why Paul tells believers that it is an absolute necessity to bring every thought into captivity and under the obedience of Christ (2Cor 10:5). A Christian writer, William Wiersbe, noted, “Worry is the evidence of unbelief. Unbelief is the evidence of disobedience. And disobedience is evidence that something is wrong on the inside.”
We all face these struggles. We all worry. Very few of us have learned to go through life, day by day, trusting the Lord with every aspect of our sin-encumbered lives. Far too often, we slip into the “I am the captain of my ship” mentality. And then, when faced with the reality of our failing strength and abilities, we despair. All the while, we have an awesome and almighty Lord Who wants to be the Captain of our souls, if only we would let Him.
Isaiah addresses this in 26:3-4, one of the more beautiful short passages in Scripture. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock” (ESV). There are three great truths here. The Hebrew for “perfect peace” is actually “peace, peace.” The Lord promises a double portion of peace to the one who anchors his or her mind on the Lord. Second, it will be the Lord Himself who will keep our minds peaceful if we trust Him. And finally, “everlasting Rock” really does mean “the rock of ages.” “Rock of Ages, cleft for me; still, I’ll hide myself in Thee!”
Paul faced unspeakable trials and horrors in his life. At the end of 2 Corinthians 11 we are told a little of what he faced. Perhaps no one expressed or learned how not to worry better than Paul. He reminded Timothy, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (2Tim 1:7). He told the Philippian believers, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing” (4:6). In essence, he meant, “Don’t worry about anything!” How then, can we learn to think as Paul did? We find the answer in the context of Philippians 4.
First of all, we need to learn how to pray properly (vv6-7). Then, we must learn the proper way to think (v8). Finally, verse 9 gives us the formula for right living. Two incredible promises follow: The peace of God (v7) and the presence of the God of peace (v9). Wiersbe summed up these truths this way, “With the peace of God to guard us and the God of peace to guide us, why worry?”
Another valuable help is what Peter wrote in 1 Peter. 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties upon Him,” for it matters to Him about you (ESV). An amplified rendering of “casting” is dropping a heavy load off your back, hearing it hit the ground, and walking away, never looking back. It simply means to give the Lord all your worries and leave them there.
A dear old saint, whose life had been fraught with multiple burdens and sorrows, was asked if she was able to sleep well at night. She smiled and said, “I sleep like a baby. I tell the Lord all my worries and then fall off to sleep. I figure He’s going to be up all night anyway – no sense both of us being awake!”
Might we all, the author first, learn this kind of simple, trusting faith.