Worry is such a prevalent issue across our world today. With the amount of connectedness, we have obtained with people and communities from not only our cities, but across our nations, and on the other side of our planet, we know more about other people’s lives and the pain and tragedy the world faces than ever before. As someone who feels deeply and shows empathy easily, having the suffering of strangers seem so tangible through my phone and television everyday can often seem overwhelming. While worry about the state of the world, our future, and our bank account are valid concerns, God calls us to put away excessive worries for something better.
Until I sat down to write this post, I do not think I realized how much worry, rational or irrational, is a part of my everyday life. I worry about what outfit I will wear and whether or not my favorite jeans are dirty. I worry about whether or not I vented too much to the friend I spent time with two days ago. I worry about whether or not dry shampoo will be able to work its magic on my second day hair. I worry about getting a good parking spot at work and about whether or not my coffee will be all the deliciousness that I wanted it to be in the morning as I fall asleep at night. While some of these situations are rational to think about and plan for, what could this time be spent doing?
The Bible says “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” in Matthew 6:31. His reasoning for not worrying about such things is because “…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt 6:32). Matthew also gives examples of God’s feeding of the birds of the air and clothing the lilies of the field and makes the point that God will that much more take care of us. But this passage does not end here as only instruction not to worry but calls us to “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matt 6:33). When we worry over trusting the unknown aspects of our lives to the Lord, we are robbing ourselves of time we could have been spending seeking the God we claim to love. We could have been participating in actions that caused us to look more like Jesus, and instead we often become obsessed with things or circumstances that hold no eternal significance.
While it seems that our world offers so many new ways to distract ourselves and induce worry, this struggle between men and women and their own minds is not new. If Jesus gave this warning during his life to people who were much less informed and connected than we are, how much more then could we benefit from putting away useless overthinking and processing and instead, seek and meditate on something worthy of our thoughts (Phil. 4:8).
While the mind is often the battlefield of everyday worries, I often find them making their way out of my mouth and into the world often haphazardly rambled off to some unsuspecting friend who has asked me how I’m doing. While sharing worries and anxieties with a community of people you trust who will encourage and challenge you with them is great, worry should not be the forefront of every conversation we have. Philippians 4:6 says “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This verse is challenging to me because it first gives the command to cease worrying and add that not only should we bring it all to the Lord in prayer—which causes us to show dependence on Him for needs met—but also to do it with thanksgiving. Thankfulness is our most deadly weapon against worry. When we are giving thanks for what we have, it is much harder to assess what we are lacking in and can instead seek the God who gave us what we have. Thankfulness will be a much better testimony of God’s faithfulness to the people we speak to than talking about all of our worries. Again, this does not mean pretending that we are worriless, rather it is a choice to be filled with thanksgiving over discontentment—the ultimate cause of worry.
While some of the worries I listed earlier were petty, some worries hold much more weight and seem to make thinking on beautiful and holy things seem most impossible. Our God did not leave us without words and promises to cling to and examples to learn from when worry seems to be drowning us. Specifically, the Psalms of David have been most meaningful to me in my most anxious moments. David expresses with heavy emotion both his deep worry about life and immeasurable thankfulness to the Lord, sometimes within the same breath as he writes. Whether facing assassins seeking to kill him, the death of his best friend, or mourning his own adultery and murderous acts, David had much to worry about and still gave boastful thanks to the Lord for not only what He had done, but for who He is. Specifically, some passages that come to mind are Psalm 8 and 9 which show David’s deep sorry and worry perfectly paired with his thankfulness for the Lord. Run to these passages when your words are not enough and cling to truth above all else.
Although worry seems more natural than seeking first the Lord with thanksgiving, God will give us strength to press on with hope and into who He is. Seek Him first and as He reveals Himself to you, you will have no choice but to be grateful of who He is and all that He has done. Fleeting worry is no match for our eternal and unchanging God. Go and be thankful!
Hannah is a creative at heart who lives in Lynchburg, VA with her husband. She is an avid reader, graphic maker, coffee drinker, and adventure seeker. She loves people and the richness they bring to her life. If you would like to follow along with her, find her on instagram as @hannahbweaves or on Facebook as Hannah Boeckman Weaver.