"Don't fret and worry--it only leads to harm."
- Psalm 37:8 TLB
When I was growing up, my paternal grandmother lived with me and my family. To this day, she's been the best example of a worrier that I've ever seen. She wore her worry like a badge of honor. She fretted and fumed about anything and everything, and if anyone tried to deal with her about it, she would say, "I can't help worrying. It's because I care." For most of my adult life, I had the idea that I was destined to follow in my grandmother's footsteps, and to be consumed with worry all the rest of my days. It wasn't until I began getting serious about my relationship with God, and earnestly studying His Word, that I discovered that worry was not God's best for me, and that I didn't have to let it rule my life.
The dictionary says that to worry is "to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; to fret." My grandmother liked to think that she didn't have a choice when it came to her habit of worrying. It removed all accountability from her. But the Bible says that as followers of Christ, we have the ability and the responsibility--through the power of the Holy Spirit--to resist and reject thoughts that we know are not pleasing to God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) I rejoiced when I discovered that I don't have to torment myself with disturbing thoughts, and that I can choose to think only on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and excellent. (Philippians 4:8)
What are some of the ill effects of worry? It can damage our health. It can cause us to suffer with headaches, stomachaches, heart problems, and a host of other ills. My husband, Joe, lost his job a couple of years ago. After several months of searching for a new job without success, he began to fret about his situation. One morning, after spending fruitless hours on the internet, he told me, "There are no jobs for me out there. I don't know what we're going to do." Less than 24 hours later, he suffered a near-fatal heart attack. One of the reasons why the Bible warns against worry is that it has the potential to do God's children serious harm. It's no wonder, then, that Jesus said: "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things?" (Luke 12:25-26 NLT)
Worry can reduce our productivity. While faith motivates and empowers, worry paralyzes and immobilizes. It affects our concentration and our focus. And it turns us into procrastinators. When I have a task ahead of me, if I think too much about how little I want to do it, or how afraid I am that it won't succeed, I have a tendency to put the job off entirely. Then that task becomes a mountain before me, and it looms over me like a dark cloud. If I'm wise, I go to the Lord and confess my fears, and I ask for His help to tackle the task in a timely manner. Then once I finally begin, I'm able to accomplish the job with a holy ease and joy.
Worry can cause us to mistreat people. Being a worrier didn't make my grandmother a pleasant person to be around. It often made her touchy, fretful, and resentful--three things the Word of God says we shouldn't be. (1 Corinthians 13:5 AMP) Worry can blind us to the needs of those around us. We become so preoccupied with our own problems, that we can't reach out or minister to others the way the Lord desires us to. Jesus certainly had reason to worry when He thought about the agony of the cross that lay before Him. But He still walked in love consistently, and He was always ready to comfort, encourage, and instruct others.
Worry can hinder our ability to trust God. It's rooted in fear, and fear and faith cannot coexist. Faith enables us to hear and receive from God. Fear gives the dark forces an inroad into our lives and circumstances. God's plan is for us to increase our faith and renew our minds by studying, meditating upon, and applying the Word of God. (Romans 12:2; Romans 10:17) Then we will begin to see things from His perspective, and we will overcome our fears. Scripture says: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) As we train our minds to stay fixed on the Lord, and our hearts to trust in Him, we will experience the supernatural peace and contentment that belong to us in Christ.
Prayer: Lord, remind me often that Your Word says: "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything." (Philippians 4:6 NLT) Help me to cast all my cares on You daily, because You care for me. (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7) Thank You that as I cooperate with You, I will experience the perfect peace that Your Word promises!
- J. M. Farro