When Bob Marley sang the immortal words, ‘Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little things gonna be alright’ (Three Little Birds) he was pretty much on to something!
The Apostle Paul taught the Philippians:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)
It seems to me that Paul has identified a problem faced by so many of us. We worry. There are very few people who don’t worry about anything at all and some people worry about absolutely anything and I mean anything! In fact we worry about anything and everything and then on occasions when everything in our lives is going well we begin to worry that there is nothing to worry about! There are so many things that people worry about today. Maybe one of those listed below concerns you right now…
- Health, or the health of a loved one
- Money, debt & having enough in retirement
- Relationships & finding the right partner
- Job security and work pressure/hitting targets
- Growing old generally
- Diet & physique, appearance
- What other people think
Five hundred years ago, the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne commented:
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”
In recent years several studies have proven that many of our imagined calamities never materialise. In one particular study, people were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen. The study discovered that:
85% of what subjects worried about never happened
15 percent that did happen – 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.
This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations, misperceptions and fear-filled speculations.
WORRY IMPACTS OUR HEALTH
The stress hormones that worry releases into our brains have been linked to:
- Shrinking brain mass & memory loss
- Lowering IQ
- Weight gain
- Being prone to heart disease & cancers
- Premature ageing & dementia
Worry also impacts our relationships (we’re present and yet absent), our creativity and thinking (it’s very difficult to be creative and problem solve when our mind is elsewhere), disables us and destroys faith and increases our levels of fear and anxiety. Worrying is not good for us!
TAKE BACK CONTROL!
Somehow we have to regain control of the worries that habitually, incessantly, and often unconsciously seizes hold of our mind. I believe that, if we could become like the air traffic controllers of our minds, and stop those worrying thoughts landing then we would greatly increase the odds of living a longer, happier, peace filled and more successful life. It begins with the decision not to believe the misfortune that your worried thoughts perceive in your future.
I came across a story recently of a lady called Martha who was asked to drive a ninety year old woman to the doctors clinic for an annual check-up. All she was told was that this person was over ninety years old and probably quite frail. But the person who answered the door could hardly be described as old and frail. The person who stood in front of her was a sprightly lady who appeared to be in her seventies at most. “Do you mind me asking how old you are?” Martha asked on the drive to the doctor. “93,” the woman answered. Martha was astonished. “You look so much younger,” she said. “What’s your secret?” “Well, honey,” she answered, “thirty years ago I made the decision to stop worrying and I haven’t wasted a moment on worry since.” This simple choice changed her life and I would suggest improved her health in every way and lengthened her days on earth.
MAKE A CHOICE NOT TO WORRY BUT TO PRAY
Why don’t you make a choice today, that from now on, with God’s help, you are not going to worry about anything and instead you’re going to trust God completely (Prov. 3:5-6).
‘When we pray and then worry, we are not exercising trust in God. We are not fully releasing our burdens or needs to Him; we are “taking them back” and working them over in our minds.’
LIE ALERT – I’ve heard people occasionally say ‘my mum (or my dad) were great worriers so I am too.’ (as if it was inherited in your genes). Can I suggest this is a lie planted by our enemy the devil. Cast that lie off and make a choice to live worry free. God has called you to be a warrior not a worrier!
ANTIDOTES FOR WORRY
‘Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.’ (Phil. 4:4)
In his letter, Paul suggests some antidotes for worry:
Always Be Full Of Joy In The Lord!
We should be the most joyous people on earth! Joy is part of the fruit of the spirit. Joy comes from:
- Knowing God
- Knowing who we are in Christ’s & our eternal destiny
- Being content with what we have (Phil. 4:11-13)
In the midst of worry and anxiety it can be challenging t0 be joyful, but again, this is a choice and I’ve found that focusing on what I do have and worshipping God can help me to re-discover my lost joy. Also, and this doesn’t sound very spiritual, but it can even help to watch a favourite comedy show or read something that will make you laugh. Seek joy.
Be Considerate Of Others
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)
We can become so wrapped up in ourselves and our own worries and problems that they can become all-consuming! When we start to worry one of the best things we can do is look to the needs of others. This helps us focus away from the worry and onto other people’s needs. We will also enjoy and feel a renewed sense of fulfilment by helping other people.
‘Thank Him for all He has done!’ (Phil. 4:6)
Sometimes we simply forget all that we have and all that God has done in the past. When I look back – I remember so many answered prayers, breakthroughs, provision, blessing, healing, and I’m encouraged that God is on my side and actually so many of the things that I wasted times worrying about never came to pass and when they did God either delivered me or helped me through.
Pray About Everything!
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
(Philippians 4:6 NLT)
Paul is encouraging us to talk to God about everything that concerns us. Everything means EVERYTHING! James also encourages us to:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
So can I encourage you not to worry about anything but rather to pray about everything! As Max Lucado says:
“No one can pray and worry at the same time. When we worry, we aren’t praying. When we pray, we aren’t worrying.”
I’ve discovered that the more I bring my day, my plans, my family, my concerns, my stresses and pressures – the more God works in my life. I’ve found that praying and committing my day to Him in the mornings makes an incredible difference to how the day goes and then I make sure I keep in constant contact with Him during the day as much as I can.
TELL GOD WHAT YOU NEED
Paul encouraged the believers not to worry about anything but to pray about everything and to ‘tell God what you need’. The good news is that our greatest needs cannot exceed God’s great resources! (Phil. 4:19). Maybe you need to read that again. Our greatest needs cannot exceed God’s great resources. In fact, in my experience there have been many times that God has not only met my needs but has provided above and beyond what I have expected. Never ever be afraid to ask God for anything you need. He is a good good Father.
LAY IT OUT BEFORE THE LORD
Have you ever received a letter or an email containing bad news? It might be a letter informing you of redundancy, health problems, foreclosure, exam results, debt collection, credit refusal or a benefits sanction.
We could learn much from King Hezekiah, who received a horrible threatening letter from Sennacherib, the Assyrian King who had already attacked & captured all the fortified cities of Judah and who had Jerusalem next on his hit list! The letter basically said surrender or die! Hezekiah laid the letter out before the Lord (2 Kings 19:14-19) and prayed. He was willing to humble himself before the Lord & acknowledge his dependency on Him and so God promised him that He would deal with the Assyrians.
That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a 180,000 men in the Assyrian camp! The people woke up to dead bodies everywhere and a day later Sennacherib was worshipping at his temple and he was assassinated by his sons.
There have been several times during my life that I’ve done what Hezekiah did and knelt down and laid the letter out before the Lord. There is something powerful & releasing in doing this simple act and appealing to God as Hezekiah did. On every occasion God came through for me. Maybe you’ve just received some bad news. Can I encourage you to lay it out before the Lord. As you pray, be faith filled and expectant that the same God who rescued Hezekiah will rescue you too.
In the meantime the promise of God is, that if we make a choice not to worry about anything but to pray about everything, that:
“You will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)