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LIVING WORRY FREE

By Pastor William R. Cunningham
Pursuing the Truth Ministries
© 2005 All rights reserved

 

Introduction

It is human to worry, but it is unhealthy to worry too much. We worry about many things and it is most probable that we don’t have to worry about the many things that we are anxious about. The fact is that many of still worry. How do we deal with worry? What can we do so that we don’t worry about things so much? Is there something that we can do to keep from worrying in the first place?

We are going to discuss the process of dealing with worry from a Christian perspective. I hope that you will be better equipped to deal with worry so that you can do and be all that God wants of you.

We will use the following scripture to begin our discussion.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) -- {6}Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7}and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Consider also the following scriptures.

  • 1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) -- {7}casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
  • Matthew 6:24-33 (NKJV) -- {24}“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. {25}“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? {26}Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? {27}Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? {28}“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; {29}and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. {30}Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? {31}“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ {32}For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33}But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) -- {5}Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; {6}In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
  • Luke 10:41-42 (NKJV) -- {41}And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. {42}But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
  • Luke 12:29 (NKJV) -- {29}“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.

 

These scriptures make it clear that we should not worry. Easier said than done right? Well if God instructs us not to worry then we can rest assured that He will show us how. We can learn a lot about living worry free the scriptures. So let’s discuss living worry free.

What is Worry?

First let’s find out what worry is. An old Swedish proverb says it nicely.

“Worry gives a small thing a big shadow”

The American Heritage Dictionary gives us the following definition: To feel uneasy or concerned about something; be troubled.

Worry is that feeling of dread that can overpower you in regards to your employment or a sickness or other situation (perceived or real). Some people even suffer from panic attacks where their level of worry is so high that it is debilitating. We worry about the future thinking that we are totally helpless as to influencing what will happen next in our lives. I have come to believe however that we are not helpless in such things.

In most cases we worry about things that have not occurred or something that we project will occur. Worrying has a tendency to spawn our imagination in the negative direction. Consider that we typically don’t worry about something that is good to us or gives pleasure. We worry about things that we think will harm us in one way or another.

An article from Psychology Today (By Colin Allen in 2003) states the following about worry.

  • Worry (or anxiety) is normal in life, like blood pressure
  • Too much worry is harmful in the same way that too high blood pressure is harmful over a period of time.
  • The primary form of worry is the sense of vulnerability and powerlessness.
  • A worrying person believes that these times of worry are spawned by things that happen in everyday life and is not controllable by us.
  • Many people worry because of a loss of faith in something. For example, a physician loses faith in the world because she was sued by someone that she thought was a friend. Now she worries that she will be sued again so every patient becomes a potential enemy.
  • “What ifs” can lead to a mess of worries.

Worry can take many forms. For the most part a little worry is normal. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to threat. It prepares us for fight or flight. However, if the energy made available by worry is not used then it begins to build up causing us harm in the long run.

Imagine being terrified as if you saw a bear charging at you. Some people are struck with such panic attacks. Though most worry is not so drastic, it is however harmful if not dealt with appropriately. It is not good to live a life of worry. I should also point out that stress goes hand in hand with worry. Stress normally accompanies the worry that we feel.

What happens when we worry?

Worry affects many things. When we worry, our body begins to pump out an array of chemicals (such as adrenaline) that increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and skeletal muscles. Your blood also clots faster, ready to repair any injuries you sustain in your “fight or flight.” (From the article, Trauma and Worry by Dr. Dorothy McCoy - http://www.pioneerthinking.com/trauma.html).

Your body surely goes through changes when we worry and thus become stressed. You could probably hear your heart bounding harder or perhaps even sweat beginning to form. You might be able to feel the nervousness rise in yourself, which causes you to shake or become agitated. These are all consequences of worry and stress. Of course if this happens frequently and there really is not fighting or running away to use the energy and resources that the body provides then problems will occur over a period of time.

You may be all keyed up with nothing to fight or flee and no way to turn off the stress chemicals. You become a ticking bomb that is not allowed to explode-consequently, you may implode. If this happens frequently or over a long period of time, it can have a serious effect on your health.


Every system in your body is affected by worry. In addition to raising blood pressure and increasing blood clotting, worry can prompt your liver to produce more cholesterol, all of which can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Muscle tension can give rise to headaches, back pain, and other body aches. Worry can also trigger an increase in stomach acid and either slow or speed up muscle contractions in your intestines, which can lead to stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea, gas or heartburn.

Worry can affect your skin (rash or itch). It can impact your respiratory system and aggravating asthma. Growing evidence even suggests that chronic worry can compromise your immune system, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses, perhaps even cancer (from the article, “Trauma And Worry” by Dr. Dorothy McCoy).

There is one thing that worrying does not do. It does not make the situation better. So we should find an alternative to worrying so that we would be more productive and less stressed out.

What should we do though? It is one thing to say that we should not worry and it is another thing to actually not worry. Let’s talk about that now.

What to Do About Worry

What should we do about excessive and unhealthy worry? There are several approaches, which include the following.

  1. Medication
  2. Counseling
  3. Medication and counseling
  4. Ignore it
  5. New Age remedies
  6. Biblical approach to restore faith and confidence in God

Worry is something that takes place primarily in the mind, which affects other systems of the body. Some psychologists treat worry with medication. This is because worry is seen to be based on neural problems, that is, problems with the brain. The brain is thought to command certain organs to produce chemicals as if the person was in danger. This is why it is believed that people can experience a sudden panic attack for example.

Medication is used to control the brain functions that would cause one to worry. Now I must admit that it is possible that there could be a defect in the neural system where it produces “stress drugs” when not needed and in such situations you should be treated somehow whether medications or alternative medicines. However, most of us are stressed because of perceived dangers as opposed to actual dangers.

Faith Component

We are not going to discuss medications since I’m not a psychologists and I do believe that drugs are not necessarily the answer to ailments such as this. We read earlier that worrying can result in a loss of faith. Let’s consider this. If your father or best friend was the richest man in the world, would you be worried if you thought you might get laid off from your job? If your best friend in the whole world since childhood was the owner of a multi-billion dollar company and you were laid off from your job then would you worry about your finances? The answer to both questions is most likely no. Why? You wouldn’t worry because the loss of your job would not be perceived as danger as you know that your father or friend would come to your aid. Your faith in your father or friend would supersede your financial situation.

Well God is the creator of the universe and he owns everything in it (Psalm 24:1). The reason we ultimately worry is because we do not trust God. Period! We worry and become stressed out because we believe that we are in danger whereas if our trust was truly in God then we wouldn’t be concerned about the outcome. Consider the following scripture.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) -- {5}Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; {6}In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

The number one question that you should ask yourself at this point is, “How do I trust God?” You can’t see God. You can’t physically hear God. You can’t touch God. So how in the world could you trust Him? This is not a question pertaining to God’s trustworthiness, but rather a question of outcome. Let me explain. When I loss my job I began to wonder how I would pay the mortgage. Now I was months away from that, but I still worried about it. I could say that I would trust God, but what does that mean and how should I do it? Do I just sit back and see what God is going to do next? Where should I place my energies? How do I know it’s God’s will that I keep or lose my house? Do you see what I mean?

This leads us into an area that I learned during those months of unemployment and through evaluating my life in general. I’m sure you already know what I’m about to say, but the wishful thinking component is so great that we suppress the truth. That almost sounds Freudian.

Carelessness, Acceptance, and Control

In any given situation there are two things that will be evident.

  1. You have some control of the situation
  2. You have no control of the situation

If we would come to grips with those two things then we could learn a lot about living a stress free life. The Bible seems to assume this else much of its teaching on worry would be fantasy at best. The Bible doesn’t give any instructions on how not to worry. Instead, it gives us reasons why not to worry. Consider Matthew 6:24-33, which is quoted earlier in this lesson. Consider what Jesus says.

  1. Be devoted to God
  2. Love God
  3. God will feed you
  4. God will clothe you
  5. Seek God and His Kingdom as the number one priority

If we were to practice those in addition to the other teachings of Jesus Christ regarding the Kingdom of God then we wouldn’t have need of worry. We would know that God would take care of us regardless of the situation.

So the first thing we must do if we are to live a worry free life is to trust God. However, trusting God requires that we know God and truly have a relationship with Him. You won’t necessarily get this in church. You will get this as you spend quality time with the Lord and do what he says. You will learn His faithfulness when you look back on the situations of your life and how God moved in them for you.

Now you must realize that there are going to be some things that you have some influence over and some things that you have no influence over. If you have not influence over something then acceptance and preparation for that outcome is probably the best thing. We could still pray, but we never know what God will do. Who knows? Perhaps God is behind the thing that you call a bad situation.

I have learned that it is far better to accept things the way they are instead of worrying about it because it isn’t the way that you want it to be. This principle will help you in many other areas as well. For example, it is much better to accept your spouse the way he or she is than fretting over the way he or she is not.

There is also no sense in worrying about the inevitable over which you have no control. I remember being laid off and looking for a job. I began to get very nervous because a lot of time had gone by and I had not found another job. I resolved that there was nothing that I could do except whatever I could to make my skills visible to potential employees and that I couldn’t make myself get a job. I resolved to not worry regardless of what happened.

Let me tell you that this principle is not easy to implement or practice. You have to learn to deal with a slew of emotions and mind tricks. You have to learn to divert the negative energy to something positive. You have to learn to stay focused on God.

Here is something also very important in regards to living a worry free life. Sometimes bad or traumatic things may happen to you. That is all part of living on planet earth and there is nothing we can do about it. Some would argue that God should stop evil from happening. The fact is that God has done a great deal in combating evil. We continue to practice evil as a human race. In any case that is a discussion for another study. Suffice it for me to say that we must do all we can to go forward even when bad things happen. The Bible never declares that life would be easy. Consider what happened to Jesus Christ, His apostles, early Christians, and even many Christians today in oppressive countries. That’s the way that it is so deal with it and stop worrying about why it’s not another way—the utopia way.

Relationship and Fellowship

Don’t worry because of God! How can this be? This can be if we have a relationship with God. I don’t mean a religious relationship, which is founded upon ritual and pomp. I’m referring to a real personal and intimate relationship with God. If God is real to you then you will have no reason to trust Him because how can one trust a fantasy. If God is real to you then you can trust Him because you could really place your trust in Him.

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) -- {7}casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

If you really trust God then you would have no problem casting your concerns on Him. The outcome, whether pleasant or not, would not deter your continued devotion to God.

There is also the benefit of fellowship. Christians form a fellowship of believers and as such should feel confident discussing concerns with each other. I’m not talking about church members here. I’m referring to God fearing people here. It is always good to have someone to talk to (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Dr. Dorothy McCoy says, Talking to someone about your fears or concerns can shine the light of reason on the products of your imagination.”

Practical Activities

I must also say that not worrying takes practice. Do all you can to keep your mind from worrying. I found that staying busy with constructive things helped tremendously. However, it helped even more when I was busy at something that contributed to the solution. I recall that the Bible says that God will bless whatever we do in Psalm 1 (being that we walk with the Father). So staying busy in productive things will help your mind not wander to worrying.

Exercise will also help to rid yourself of the energy that builds up when you do worry. We said earlier that worry is natural. It contributes to our "fight or flight" posture. However, if you never fly or fight then that energy remains and eventually causes you harm in the long run as we said earlier in this article. So exercise also helps to use that energy and it contributes to good health, which you should have anyway.

Another big thing that you can do is to frequent the company of those that would encourage you and perhaps provide some assistance to the solution of whatever it is you are attempting to worry about. I found that knowing that there were people who were praying for me was a big help to my emotional state, which contributed to my not worrying. Frequent the fellowship of those that would encourage you and even help you.

Stay encouraged. Watch comedy on television. Watch preachers and listen to preachers that truly preach the word of God that would encourage you. Permeate your mind with the word of God, which would encourage you through any difficult time. Do all you can to stay encouraged and not dwell on the problem. Dwell on the solution if you must dwell on something. The solution will bring you out not the problem. You never earned an "A" on a test by dwelling on the problem. You sought the solution and spent your energy formulating one. So do the same with those things that you would sit and worry about.

Stay productive and don't stop pursuing your dreams. You still don't know where God is leading you. So be ready to move and change paths at any time. God is always with you regardless of how bad it gets and even if it doesn't feel or look like He is with you. Be encouraged.

Conclusion

Don’t worry about things. Do something if you can and deal with the inevitable if you can’t. Worrying about things will not make it better, but doing something could influence the outcome. Trust God regardless of what happens. If things look good then well. If things don’t look like they will turn out so good then do what you can and brace yourself for impact so to speak. Accept it and move on. No one said that life is supposed to be pleasant all of the time. Learn to be content in any situation (See Philippians 4:11-13).

Learn to enjoy the good times in your life and overcome the bad moments. Learn from every situation. Don’t worry about things especially if there is nothing that you can do about it. Acceptance is sometimes the best thing to do. Trust God and depend on him so that you would have no need to worry one way or another.

 

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