Updated: May 9, 2020
People are 'control freaks!' Plain and simple, we as human beings love to have order in our lives: we love to be able to have predictable outcomes, and maintain a steady way of life. When we encounter trials & hardships in life, often times, our mind will jump to the 'worst case scenario!'
Did you know that studies have been conducted, that have shown that as much as 91% of the things that a person worries about, won't come true? Of the 9% that does comes true, the outcome was much better than expected, one third of the time! This goes to show, that it is a natural human tendency to worry. But, what's more, is that these worries are often irrational! Worrying comes from a root of self-preservation, and an attempt to lengthen one's life on the earth. Ingrained in the root of self-preservation, is a composite mixture of (1) a fundamental misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God, and (2) a lack of trust - or a lack of faith - in God. The Bible describes God as being sovereign, which can mean "there is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations." God does whatever pleases Him and, as Christians, we are given assurance that - through His sovereign power - He is working together all things for our good (Romans 8:28). So, if we know that God is all powerful and (because of our salvation through Jesus Christ) God supernaturally causes every event in our life to work out for our good, then why would we ever worry? The logical conclusion that we can draw from this question, is that there is a fundamental lack of trust, in God's power and willingness to do the 'right thing,' which causes us to attempt to control situations and outcomes in our life, to our own detriment. If we see that the best outcome that we can achieve in this life, is whatever purpose God has for our life, then we will begin to see situations, and circumstances in a much different light. R.C. Sproul, says in his book entitled, Growing in Holiness: "...it is one thing to believe in God, and it is another thing to believe God..." the ancient Greek word for faith comes from a verb which has a basic meaning of "to believe or trust." Worry, comes from a root of self-preservation, which manifests itself as a lack of faith in the sovereignty, and goodness of God.
Sounds great... Prove it!
Jesus, himself, confirms that we ought not to worry - time and time again - and perhaps most clearly in Luke 12:22-26:
'And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?' Luke 12:22-26 (emphasis added)
The ancient Greek word that Jesus uses, when He says "do not be anxious," is "merimnao," which which means to divide, or to separate from the whole, or to be pulled apart in opposite directions. This is significant! Jesus is saying that worry and anxiety will literally pull apart the inner being of a man. Intuitively, we know that when we worry, or are anxious, there is a pull in opposing directions between rationality and irrationality. When we are worrisome or anxious, we are allowing irrationality and unreasonableness to win the 'tug of war.' Jesus uses the root word, of this command, in Mark 3:25, when speaking of the necessity of unity, when He says: "...And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand..." the ancient Greek word for "divided" in this passage, is the root word for "merimnao," which Jesus uses in His instruction to us, not to be anxious. Since our body, is compared to a temple - a building and a house for the Holy Spirit - we can begin to understand a deeper significance to what Jesus is saying when He tells us not to worry. If we worry, we tear down the temple within ourselves, and eventually we will not be able to stand. We have all likely experienced this at varying degrees, from worrying about being late for work, to crippling anxiety or panic attacks. The fact of the matter is that worrying will not add a single hour to your life! Worrying comes from a root of self-preservation, at the most base level. We worry, because we want to do whatever we can, to stay alive as long as we can.
Your Days Are Numbered!
"Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:16. God knows exactly how many days that we have on this earth! Think about that for a moment. This is a reason, why Jesus says that worrying cannot add a single hour to our life. Our lives are in the palm of God's hand (Job 12:10). The Lord has determined exactly how long, each of us have on this earth, and worrying will not add a single hour to what God has already determined. Job 14:5 says "...since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass..." We simply do not have the power to add even one hour to our short time, here on the earth, so why waste time and energy trying to re-write God's book? As Christians, we are given a promise that during the time that God has given us, He supernaturally works together every single one of our experiences for our good. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Each trial that we face is an opportunity for our faith to be strengthened; like gold or silver going through the furnace to be shaped into the image that the creator desires, each time we come through a trial - with our faith steadfastly anchored in Christ Jesus - we are shaped more and more into His image. If we could only see every experience in our life as being the next step - that God has prepared beforehand - for us to be shaped into being more like Christ, then perhaps we wouldn't worry so much. Even if you make, what you think, is the wrong decision, and you're convinced that you've ruined 'something,' do you really think that you can thwart the plans of God, especially the plans for your own life? When you put things into perspective and realize that God uses even our mistakes for His glory, and for our good, our mistakes, hardships, discipline or other trials, can be viewed through the correct 'lens,' and this should be the lens of joy! Psalm 16:11 says that in His presence, is fullness of joy; if we know that God is using each and every experience as an opportunity to draw nearer to Him, we can begin to draw from the deep 'well' of joy that is found in the presence of God. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why the Apostle James wrote to the early church, "count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2. James - having personally been in the presence of Jesus Christ - before and after the crucifixion, would have had a deep understanding of the joy associated with being in the presence of God, especially amidst trials. One trial that James endured, that may have contributed to his inspired understanding, came on an unforgettable boat ride with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember Who's in the 'Boat'
'On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea,“Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”' Mark 4:35-41 (emphasis added)
The disciples have been with Jesus through many trials, up until this point. They've witnessed the authority of Jesus's preaching, they've seen Jesus cast out demons, they've also seen Jesus heal those afflicted with pain, sickness, epilepsy, and even paralysis. Something was different, however, about what happened in the boat, amidst this great storm. This was the first time that Jesus had shown His authority over even the elements and forces of the earth, and the disciples reacted with an equal measure of astonishment! After all the time they had spent with Jesus, they asked the question that most would ask upon first meeting Jesus: "...Who then is this...?"
The disciples must have felt a great deal of worry, anxiety, and fear thinking they were going to perish at sea amidst such a great storm. Some time must have passed from the beginning of the storm, to when they asked Jesus for help. How similar this behavior pattern is to the distracted Christian. Instead of going to Jesus at the first sign of trouble, often times we let our fleshly nature attempt to navigate a great storm, to our own detriment. The disciples waited until water was literally filling the boat, with thoughts of certain death crossing their minds, before coming to Jesus for help. When the disciples went to Jesus for help, they witnessed the supernatural, omnipotent power of our Savior's word. All things are in subjection to Him, including forces way beyond our control or comprehension. Instead of thinking that Jesus is in OUR boat, we should remember that Jesus made every fiber of every boat that was ever made: all boats belong to him. We are in Jesus' boat, and He is the captain of the life He has given us. Don't fall prey to mutiny against the only one who is able to navigate and sovereignly control the seemingly impossible scenarios and circumstances of life. We see that when the disciples went to Jesus for help, Jesus had only to speak His own word, and the wind obeyed Him. The wind - the unseen force effecting change upon everything it touches - was the cause of the perilous waves. When the winds ceased, the waves ceased. What a great picture of worry and anxiety. Worry and anxiety are both unseen and yet, like the wind, can cause all manner of seemingly life threatening waves to arise in one's life. The only way to cease worry and anxiety, caused by the root of self-preservation, which is due to a lack of faith in God, is to abandon this mindset altogether. Recognize and repent of this behavior pattern. Seek God first, instead of using God as a last resort!
Faith in God - He is who He says He is!
The next time that you are tempted to worry, think about trusting God's plans for your life. Trust that His plans are much better than anything that you can ever hope to imagine. He is God after all, and He does love you, because in Christ, He sees you as His child. I speak from experience, when I say that I have felt the dividing within myself, caused by worry and anxiety. I especially learned this lesson during the birth of our daughter. There was so much beyond my control, I wore myself out - mentally - thinking I could help control scenarios, to help my wife endure the pangs of child birth. Ultimately, Luke 12:22-26, brought me a peace that surpassed all understanding, as I read the words, "do not be anxious about your life..." God is sovereignly in control of all things, and because we are Christians, no matter the pain, God is working each and EVERY scenario in our life for our good, to draw us nearer to Him, that our joy may be full and complete, as we dwell in His presence. Worry and anxiety, comes from a root of self-preservation, caused by a lack of faith in God. There is only one way to be free from this behavior pattern, and that is to repent and believe in the Gospel.
Believe that God has numbered your days, and your worry and anxiety will not grant you even one hour to the span of life that God has determined for you. If you are in Christ, you have eternal life, now and forevermore. If you are in Christ, there is no better path to be on, in this life! This is the cure for worry and anxiety!