5 Things About Worry
The Apostle Paul instructs us to rejoice in his letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Immediately following his instructions to rejoice in the Lord, Paul writes this
Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything.”
Worry is a kill-joy. Worry specializes in worst case scenarios when God promises us best case scenarios:
1. He has already rescued us from the worst, which is eternal Hell;
2. Even if something horrible happens, He promises to use it for our eternal good (Romans 8:28);
3. The bad things that we worry about often do not happen and our worry proves groundless;
4. Whether or not bad things happen, our worry generates no positive change, and in fact, can cause me great harm;
5. The cause for all of our worries—sin and the Curse—is temporary, and will soon be behind us. Forever.
The command to rejoice doesn’t just gloss over difficulties and is not mere positive thinking—we have every reason to rejoice. Paul continues:
Philippians 4:7 “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of worrying, Paul says that we should take our concerns to God, choosing to thank Him as we do—for His goodness, His sovereignty and His promises to work everything for good. And finally Paul says:
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
What we think about is a choice. We often imagine, “I have no control over what I think about.” But you do! Martin Luther is credited with responding, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” What we choose to think about becomes our master. Proverbs 4:7: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Some believers become obsessed with everything that’s wrong with the world. We are continually bombarded by the twenty-four hour “news” cycle (sometimes more sensational than informative) that dwells on the sufferings, tragedies and crises of life. It is easy for this unceasing avalanche of “bad news” to bury the Good News.
As a Christian, I am not in favor of living in a cave, denying suffering and trying to be “blissfully ignorant” of the world’s woes. But rather like what Paul said, we are to focus our thoughts on the true eternal realities God affirms, that better empower us to rejoice.
Remembering God’s presence, praying and feeding our thoughts with good things that honor our King—these will increase our joy while starving our anxiety.