“Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” “Worry is pulling tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.” “Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it comes due.”
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m worried sick over . . .?” “Worried sick” may be more than a figure of speech. Worry is a sin that can literally make you sick. Consider all the stress-related illnesses: heart attacks, high blood pressure, ulcers, insomnia, headaches, strokes, immune system malfunctions, and even suicide. Worry indeed can make you sick.
If you are “worried sick” or worried at all, I am going to tell you how to be worry free! If you are “sick and tired” of being “sick and tired” you need hope, help, and healing. And God has the prescription you need.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). Here are five steps from these verses on how to get from “Worried Sick” to “Worry Free.”
Heed The Constraint
The text says, “Be careful for nothing.” That means do not be anxious over anything. To put it in modern language: don’t worry.
What is worry? It is not a disease. Neither is it an uncontrollable condition. The word worry comes from two Greek words which mean “to divide the mind.” Double-mindedness is when your thoughts are split between worthwhile and damaging thoughts. You will be dominated with either the positive or the negative thoughts. Worry starts in the mind.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Jesus told them He was going to die. These disciples had left all for Christ, and it looked like they were about to lose everything. Their hopes and dreams had been dashed. They had staked everything on Jesus, and He was going away! So He said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” That means they had to make a deliberate choice to refuse to panic. In other words, stop giving your heart permission to be controlled by fear. Don’t let your soul be agitated and stirred up.
If you were looking for an easy ride when you became a Christian, you got on the wrong roller coaster! Life is not going to be conflict-free, but your heart can be free of conflict.
Abraham Lincoln said, “I have determined that people are as happy as they choose to be.” Just because you get knocked down does not mean you are knocked out! Anxiety is an ailment of the soul which you can overcome. You can choose to be happy.
There are four hundred references to peace in the Bible, and over one hundred references in the New Testament. In most of Paul’s letters he started out with peace and grace be with you. Just about every letter Paul wrote ended with something about peace — “Peace be with you.” That means the God of peace wants His people to have peace! To become worry-free you must first heed the constraint, “Be careful for nothing.” Don’t worry about anything.
Confess Your Sin
If your face looks like a reprint of the book of Lamentations, it’s time to get a face-lift! Worry is SIN. Instead of worrying, God says turn everything to prayer. The word “prayer” here refers to earnest prayer. If you are dominated by sinful fear, worry, and anxiety, your problem is that you are thinking about yourself too much. The first step to victory over sin is confession.
Worry is emotional atheism. It is acting as if God does not exist. At best, it is distrust in the truthfulness of God. Oswald Chambers said, “Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us.” Perpetual uneasiness is symptomatic of prayerlessness. No one can pray and worry at the same time. So worry assails God’s character by doubting He will do what He said He would do. Unbelief is sin, and sin must be confessed.
The negative consequences of worry undermine family life and destroy your witness. It is not a sin that confines its impact to the person who commits it. It negatively impacts others as well.
Worry is also a sin because it is detrimental to the temple of God. It actually vandalizes your body! Your emotional and spiritual well-being will have an effect on your physical body. Most of the people who go to the doctor don’t have merely physical problems. They have spiritual problems which produce physical symptoms. Scores of diseases are directly attributed to worry.
“And whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and SIN MUST BE CONFESSED! If we confess our distrust of God, unbelief, fear, emotional atheism, anxiety, worldly outlook, self-focus, self-absorption, then “God is faithful and just to forgive us. . . .” If you want to get right, you must get your sin out of sight! Jesus bore your “griefs and carried your sorrows.” Life is too short to worry yourself sick! Confessing (admitting) your worry as sin, puts you on the path to worry-free living.
The three keys to lasting change are found in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, . . . And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Note the first key is Repent. Verse 22 says to “Put off.” The second key is Renew. Verse 23 says “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” The third key is Replace. Verse 24 says, “Put on the new man.” The first step is Repent, and repenting begins with Confession.
Most worries are leftovers from yesterday or borrowed from tomorrow. Often people worry most about the past. You can’t change the past, but you can ruin a perfectly good day by worrying about it. Make a pact with yourself: “I will not worry about the past because the past is gone. I can do nothing about the past, so I refuse to worry about it.”
Another focus of worry are the “What if’s.” One woman worried for forty years that she had cancer, and died at age seventy of pneumonia! The devil would have you continually crossing streams that do not exist. Fretting about uncertainties and the unknown is a sinful waste of time and energy.
Another focal point of worry is the things we can do something about. If you can do something about it — DO IT! Don’t sit around and stew if there is something you can do. Stop worrying and start acting.
Worry is a habit or a learned behavior. Maybe you observed it first-hand in your parents. Perhaps your temperament is prone toward anxiety. It takes time to develop a habit, but God’s grace can empower you to unlearn that bad habit and replace it with something positive. If you worry about the past, present, future, or the unknown, confess it as sin and move on.
Cast Your Cares Upon The Lord
Again Philippians 4:6 says, “in every thing by prayer and supplication.” “Supplication” means request. You can ask God to lift the weights off your soul. If a thing is too small to turn to prayer, it is too small to turn into a burden. E. M. Bounds said, “Prayer is God giving audience to man.” That means God is willing to hear from you! You can take your burden to the Lord and leave it there!
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). “Casting” means to throw upon. You can throw, or roll, your burden on the Lord. You can confide in God. You can tell God all about it. You can hurl your burden on the Lord and move on. “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and grief to bear. What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer.”
Don’t be a spiritual Superman! Start with Confession, then Confide, and Cast your load on the Lord.
Put Your Confidence In God
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” Notice that thanksgiving is offered at the same time as the prayer request. Don’t wait around until something happens. Go ahead and thank God before the answer is realized. Don’t wait for a tangible answer. Go ahead and thank God NOW! Go ahead and believe God in advance. Don’t panic; “in everything by prayer . . . with thanksgiving.” Thanking God is the first step of faith. Praying with thanksgiving means you believe and have confidence in God.
Chronic worriers make the mistake of waiting for their circumstances to change. Change the circumstances if you can, but you can choose to give thanks, even if the circumstances don’t change. Happiness is a state of being, not a state of becoming. You don’t acquire happiness; you assume it. Gratitude and praise confirm you are trusting God.
“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18). “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17).
Passive worry can be overcome by aggressive praise. Praise is the antidote to worry. There is no situation that can justify anxiety. “Rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 4:4). Rejoice is in the imperative mood which means praise is mandatory. We are commanded to praise and give thanks. Thanksgiving and praise immunizes us against worry. How could you be worried when you believe God not only has the whole world in His hands, He has you in His hands as well?
Take plenty of time to count your blessings, but never spend a minute in worry. Rehearse your blessings. If you are depressed, take out a piece of paper and write out in detail every blessing that comes to mind. Praise is like a tonic to your soul.
If you come to God, you “must believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” You can’t please God without faith. In the Christian life you live by faith, or you don’t live at all. When it comes to prayer you pray in faith, or you don’t pray at all. Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible. If you are going to have fellowship with God, it all boils down to faith-confidence in God. Faith not only believes God can, faith believes God will!
F.B. Meyer describes how wholehearted trust in God displaces worry. Listen to his words: “Do you know what it is when you are worried to kneel down and say to God: ‘Father, take this,’ and by one definite act to hand over the worry to God and leave it there? Like my dog at home: he used to worry me very much to be fed at dinner, but he never got any food that way. But lately he has adopted something which always conquers me: he sits under the table, and puts one paw on my knee. He never barks, never leaps around, never worries me; I cannot resist the appeal. Although my wife says I must never do it, I keep putting little morsels under the table. This is the way to live — with your hand on God’s knee. ‘Lord, I am not going to worry; I am not going to fret; but here is my hand, and I wait until the time comes . . .’”
God wants the best for you. You can rest your case with Him. Stop worrying: look up, pack up, because we will soon be going up! Jesus said to Peter, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). “Let your requests be made known with thanksgiving.” Put your Confidence in God. Then you can . . .
Experience The Calm
You may not be able to directly control your feelings, but you can control your thoughts and actions. If you expect the worst, you will probably get it! Your inner thoughts tend to externalize themselves. You become what you think about. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Whatever dominates your thoughts tends to manifest itself in your life. This is why it is imperative to control your thinking. Someone said, “You may not be what you think you are, but you are what you think.”
You will feel as you act and think. You are far more likely to act your way into feeling than feel your way into acting! Do the things you should and your feelings will catch up with you! Human nature is so constituted that our thoughts, actions, and feelings are interrelated. You can’t stay discouraged when you are expressing your praise to the Lord. As long as you are focused on God-glorifying activities, there is no room for fear-producing thoughts and feelings. The essence of faith is acting like a thing is so, when it is not so, in order for it to be so.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3). Colossians 3:15 says, “let the peace of God rule (prevail) in your hearts . . . and be ye thankful.”
There is perfect stillness in the eye of a hurricane. Fierce winds lie just outside, but in the center there is an incredible calm. God wants you to have a sense of well-being. Romans 14:17 declares, “for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
It has been said, “Peace is not packaged in pills.” The peace of God comes from God. The peace of God is possible when you have peace with God. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). The Bible says, “the LORD will bless his people with peace” (Psalms 29:11).
If you are having panic attacks, you can attack your panic with this scriptural tactic. Get off the defense and go on the offense. Instead of being acted upon by forces out of your control, start acting on those forces first. Take this five-step strategy to heart and plan your offensive against sinful worry. You can stop being “worried sick” and become “worry-free.”
Heed the CONSTRAINT. CONFESS worry as sin. CAST your care on the Lord. Put your CONFIDENCE in God. Experience the CALM!
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”