The old song ‘Don’t worry about a thing – cos every little thing is gonna be alright’ (Bob Marley) is easier said than done at 3am in the morning! Recently I woke up in the middle of the night worrying about something – which I guess is not unusual for anyone. I started to mull over the matter in my head and look at it from every conceivable angle and as a result couldn’t get back to sleep!
What do you worry about? Here are some of the most common worries people admit to:
- Finances & particularly debts
- Redundancy or finding a new job
- Finding a partner
- Family members
- Growing old or death itself
- Appearance, wrinkles, figure, physique, attractiveness
- Future – savings/pension/health
- Meeting work targets or goals
- Whether I’m a good parent/raising kids right
- Friend or family member I’ve fallen out with
- Travelling abroad
- Paying rent or mortgage
- Whether my partner still loves me
I’m sure you could add others to the list. Our newpapers and media seem to add to our worries with constant stories that do nothing to help lower our anxiety levels.
I also meet lots of people who are genuinely fearful about all kinds of things. Fear is horrible and can be quite debilitating. If you’re struggling with fear then this popular post may help you – ‘No Fear!’
Worrying about things that may or may not happen is time consuming, soul destroying, kills our joy, robs us of our peace, wrecks our sleep, impacts our families and work, and can cause us to miss out on the many good things that are going on in our lives. Sir 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”
How many times have you noticed a family member who whilst being present physically during a meal is actually absent – their mind is a million miles away! We mustn’t allow worry to rob us of our enjoyment of the present.
STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING!
How do we do it? Paul reminds us:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:6-9 MSG)
This is such great advice! I’ve summed it up below:
- Make a decision not to worry
- Shape your worries into prayers
- Regain perspective through worship
- Focus on what you have rather than what you lack or your fears
- Be active
MAKE A DECISION NOT TO WORRY!
It is a decision and a choice that we can make. It must be possible for us because Jesus never encourages us to do anything beyond our ability and he said;
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
You may well reply ‘that’s easier said than done Simon – you don’t know what I’m facing right now!’ Whilst that’s true, I do believe, and have learnt through my own life experiences that it is possible to make a choice not to worry. Remember: first – make the choice and second – ask God to help you not to keep mulling over the things you are facing. He definitely will do. It takes time sometimes to train your mind not to worry but I promise you – God will help you – especially if you are a ‘serial worrier.’ His grace is definitely sufficient for you!
SHAPE YOUR WORRIES INTO PRAYERS
David learned how to do this – the Psalms are full of worries that he shaped into prayers which often resulted in worship and a change of perspective. Here’s a great example:
“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught”
David is worried by his enemies (one of whom was his closest friend) but the result of shaping his worries into prayer is a new perspective and the final proclamation: ‘But as for me – I trust in you!’
There was a great book written a few years ago entitled ‘Don’t Just Stand There Pray Something!’ which was a a great book on prayer. One of the most powerful and effective things you can do is to pray and cast those worries onto God.
Peter (quoting David from Psalm 55) states:
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5:7)
Once we have prayed the key is to leave those worries there! (this takes practice!) I have discovered over the years that first, I wasn’t created to carry worries, anxieties & fears, and second; that God promises to release us of them if we will bring them to Him and actually let go of them. I can only say that this become easier with experience – so keep going and don’t give up!
Maybe your prayer life hasn’t been that great of late and you’re not sure where to start. I’m sure this post will help you ‘How to kickstart your prayer life.’
REGAIN PERSPECTIVE THROUGH WORSHIP
I guess we have two choices – either to focus on the worries (which often magnifies them and makes them appear much worse) or to focus on the One for whom nothing is impossible.
Praise and worship is a great way of focusing on God and His goodness, faithfulness, love, power, protection and provision and I have discovered that in the light of who He is my troubles and worries tend to fade away.
I’ve also discovered that there are often songs for those difficult seasons of life. I’ve found that a particular worship song can help at certain times and particularly if I’m going through an ongoing period of trial and difficulty. The words and truth may be pertinent to the situation. I will listen to the song over and over again during that season and allow those precious truths to wash over me.
Worship is a great antidote to worry – worship reminds us of God’s nature – His goodness, kindness, incredible love, His faithfulness and consistency (He never changes!) and His ability to rescue, redeem and restore. What a mighty God and wonderful Father He is! Learn to simply trust Him.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE RATHER THAN WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE!
Sir John Templeton was a world famous financier and philanthropist
Each year he gave millions of dollars away to organisations and charities all over the world.
Every morning when Sir John awoke he would lay on his bed and thought of five new ways in which he had been blessed! He said that he found this simple procedure enriching and believes that this is one of the chief reasons why so much peace and contentment flooded into his life!
Often focusing in our worries and cares causes us to forget everything we do have and every area of our lives that is good. We are so blessed. Maybe this simple exercise will help you refocus when you’re worried.
So – Stop Worrying and Start Living! Be active! Consider what you could be doing with the time you spend worrying?! Get active! Make every second of your life count! Don’t waste a second of this amazing life God has given you by worrying….
Plan something new! Do something for the first time!
Bless someone – do some thing thoughtful!
Encourage someone in need – take the focus off yourself!
Do something that you really enjoy doing!
Take a walk, go for a run, swim, kick some leaves, exercise!
But most of all – cast the worries to one side and start living this amazing life that God has given you! And as you do, you can be sure that your life will return to the peace and harmony God intended for you. As one of my elders used to say to me, when worries and troubles threatened to engulf: ‘It will pass!’
Do You Know Christ?
He is the Prince of Peace and the one who will carry your worries and cares. What if He really exists and you can have a real relationship with God. This article will help you consider this for yourself.