According to most psychological studies regarding worry.
40% of our worries never come to pass.
30% involve past decisions which cannot be changed.
12% of our worries focus on the criticism of others who spoke simply because they felt inferior.
10% of our worries are about our health. . .which gets worse with worry.
Finally, 8% of our worries can actually be described as legitimate causes for concern.
Let's look first at what worry actually is.
Worry is a state of feeling generally anxious and uneasy about something. We often refer to it as troubled thought.
If you were to look up worry in the dictionary, there is a meaning to the word worry that comes four or five descriptions down the list. It comes from the root word behind worry. It reads this way: "To seize or bite and hold on to!"
You might think of it as how a dog plays with a rag doll when he takes it in his teeth and begins to shake it until the stuffing comes out!
That’s a good example of what worry will do to you.
Worry is toxic thinking; or the imagination used to picture the worst. It strangles our creative, productive capacities and twists the joy out of life.
Worry changes nothing except the worrier! Someone once said that: Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it is due.
If you were to add up all the minutes, hours, days, and even weeks you've spent worrying in your life, what do you suppose the total would be? If, instead of worry, what might have happened if you’d spent every one of those minutes in prayer?
Worry is one of the worst habits you can develop. Yet, there appears so many things to worry about like relationships, finances, kids and work.
Worry, anxiety and stress are all related and there isn't one positive aspect to any of them. In fact, the exact opposite of all these things is trust ... hope ... faith.
And not just faith in your kids or spouse, but faith that God will make all things turn out for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Here are seven keys to overcoming worry as you gear up for 2021.
1. Spend time with God on a regular basis.
Matthew 6:33 in the Amplified Bible says:
“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”
Filling your mind with the positive, life-giving, promises in God’s Word. This will go a long way toward replacing all the negative stuff that just seems to show up naturally in all of our lives. There is nothing negative about God, so every minute spent with Him is another positive, life-enjoying minute for you.
Matthew 6:6 in the New Living Translation says:
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
2. Believe what God's Word says is true.
2 Timothy 2:15 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.”
“Accurately handling the Word. . .” when we understand that God’s Word is true. . .that He says what He means and means what He says. . .then we will move into a new level of maturity and peace.
God says He will take care of you, your spouse, and your kids, and there is nothing you can do by worrying that will alter God's promise.
Worrying that it isn't true or might not be true doesn't change anything. Worry simply robs you of today’s blessings. . .by stealing the Word from your heart.
Become an authority on the Word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 in the Amplified Bible says:
“All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
As you develop the habit of praying about everything as the Word admonishes us to do in Phil 4:6-7, it gets easier and easier to trust God because you'll see answers to your prayers on a regular basis.
Prayer is God's freedom to work in your life. When you pray, you fling open the door so God can work.
John 15:7 in the Amplified Bible says:
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
The Word of God says “don’t worry”. . .so if God’s word remains in each of us. . .then whatever we ask in His name shall be done for us.
And that includes. . .removing worry from our lives.
4. Practice the peace of God.
Learning not to worry and learning to not be anxious takes time and, yes, a lot of work. It is very easy to fall into the habit of fretting over every little thing in one's life.
Christians should be constantly striving to strengthen their faith in the Lord through the Word.
Philippians 4:6 that we just mentioned says this in the Amplified Bible:
“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.”
Prayer and studying the Word of God will help you realize the Lord is in control of everything in this world which He created.
5. Draw strength from other believers.
Christians can overcome worry and anxiety by leaning on other members of the church for strength and support. The very things that can make you worry are common to most people. We all need wisdom and knowledge about defeating that giant in our lives.
The main one we should draw strength and peace from is our Lord.
John 14:27 AMP says:
“Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”
You can also draw some strength from your pastor and/or godly mentors.
Proverbs 11:14 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.”
Don’t just talk to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. . . choose someone who knows your heart and who can encourage, exhort and edify you in your most Holy faith. The best thing is to reject thoughts of worry before they can build a stronghold.
6. What were you worrying about last year?
If you want to test your memory. . .try to remember what you were worrying about last year on this very date. No cheating by stealing a peak at your journal or calendar.
Can you write down five things you were worried about a year ago? If you can think of five. . . write down how each situation was resolved.
If what you worried about last year has not been resolved. . .why are you still worrying? Obviously worrying didn’t make a difference anyway.
Someone once said:
“You can’t change the past. . .but you can ruin a perfectly good present by worrying about tomorrow.”
Mark Twain once said:
“I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”
7. Plan to change. . .not worry.
This time of year. . .people are looking for a new pocket calendar and/or day planners.
In your shopping have you ever seen a “Daily Worry Planner” or “Monthly Worry Charts” or a “Yearly Worry Planner?”
You probably smiled or laughed to hear me mention these three products for your average worrier. But, you also know that you’ve never seen any such product available at your local Christian bookstore.
We’ve often said that worry never put a penny in your checking account, got your job back, saved you children or freed them from problems they have at the moment.
The only change worry brings. . .is for the worse. So why make worry your friend?
It’s time to ask ourselves. . .what did Jesus have to say about worry?
Matthew 6:25-34 in the Amplified Bible says:
“25 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today..”
I read where a pastor once said that God gives us permission to worry under four specific circumstances.
First, you can worry when it has permission to feed and clothe you.
In other words when you can eat an anxiety attack or wear an ulcer then it’s okay to worry.
The only problem is that you can’t eat worry. . .but it will sure eat you.
Second, Jesus gives us permission to worry when it will make us live longer and grow taller.
If worry added height to your statue then there would be no need for high heels.
Truth of the matter is . . . worry will take years from your life. . .plus hunch your back and lower your head.
Third, you have the Lord’s permission to worry when you know how a pagan feels.
The word pagan is defined “as a person without God or without a reliable God.”
If you want to know how it feels to be a pagan. . .then worry.
The Word of God tells us not to worry. . .so if we worry. . .then it means we’re not trusting God.
Fourth and finally, we have God’s permission to worry when we want tomorrow to be worse than it’s already going to be.
Yes, tomorrow will bring its own share of troubles BUT GOD will help us deal with each one.
Matthew 6:34 in the Message Bible says:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Peter Marshall, the Scottish Pastor and Chaplain of the Senate, once said:
“God help us to do our very best this day and be content with today’s troubles, so that we shall not borrow the troubles of tomorrow.”
God has a habit of coming to our rescue when we need it. God didn’t part the Red Sea until Moses and the children of Israel were at need to walk through it. He didn’t part the Red Sea five or ten miles back. . .God moved at the exact moment when it was needed.
That’s what He’ll do for us as well.
We need to really understand that worrying will not change anything . . . except our health. If worry was packaged like a cigarette it might carry the following warning:
“Worry is hazardous to your health and will prove fatal to your health by its continued presence in your life.”
We’ve established that worry is ungodly as well as bad for your health. . . now let’s look at fifteen things you can do instead of worry.
1. Read your Bible.
2. Enter into His presence through prayer.
3. Read books that motivate you to trust Him more.
4. Listen to audio teachings that inspire you.
5. Get plenty of rest (relative to what your body requires).
6. Plan your day. . .and work your plan.
7. Avoid the tyranny of the urgent. . .like doing everything at the last minute when time is running out.
8. Allow extra travel time and pretend you’re on vacation and not in a hurry. This will minimize your aggravation with other drivers who delay you.
9. Learn to say “no” to things that won’t help you achieve your goals and thus fulfill your destiny.
10. Always carry a book with you to read while having to wait. In short lines I check my Facebook posts, instagram or sports scores on my phone.
11. Eliminate clutter . . . it’s amazing how rearranging your office or home library will stir something fresh in you.
12. Purpose in your heart to spread God’s love wherever you go and to whomever you talk with every day. You can say a kind word or make people smile . . .truthfully, I enjoy doing both.
13. Get your financial house in order. Remember, we said worrying will not put a penny back in your bank account, nor get your job back or pay the mortgage. Begin taking the necessary steps to gain control of your financial destiny.
14. If you’re having a bad day. . .look out the window. . .if you don’t see God’s throne, He’s still on it and everything is going to be okay.
15. Create some “me” and “thee” time. Create time where you can decompress. If I really need to relax my mind and body, I’ll watch a movie or a television show where the good guys win and the bad guys lose. For me, that’s a mental distraction serving a purpose and not a waste of time.
I could continue with this list but why don’t you take the time necessary to add to this list. Determine what works for you.
One more thing. . . learn to live in a constant state of praise and thanksgiving. Thanking God for what He’s done and is going to do for you has all kinds of benefits. Praising God and praying to Him make an effective combination.
I find that when I begin praising God. . .every negative thought, worry, concern and situation are all minimized if not eliminated from my mental hard drive.
Somebody said once. . .
“'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.”
If we’re sailing through the storms of life. . .we should relax because God is in the boat with us. He will never leave nor forsake us or relax his grip on us.
One last thing. . .worry perverts the imagination that God has placed within each of us.
If we spend our time worry about what might happen. . .we’ll waste our time and our ability to make things happen.
Use your imagination . . . see things the way the Word of God says they can be.
Make this a new year … without worry.
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