- 1.an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, or likely to cause pain.
I’ll never forget the first time someone asked me, “did you know that we are NOT supposed to worry?” What on earth did this crazy person even mean by this question, I thought. Surely they weren’t successful in life. Worrying had always provided me with the strength to get ahead of the situation, to think through the problem, to ponder how to prevent it, and it made me feel like I was being careful instead of reckless. Outwardly, I was successful at everything I did; but I had to admit that inwardly, I was a wreck. Wasn’t everyone? For a brief moment, I paused. What if fear and worrying weren’t how God had intended my mind to spend its day? Was it even possible not to worry? I decided to give it a shot.
The first step in preventing worry was to realize when and how often I was obliging. Every single day, every single hour, almost every single minute. It was no wonder I was miserable. At first, I would realize when the onset of negative thoughts was occurring but couldn’t seem to do anything about it. I knew that “we must take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” But how? So that’s where I started – I said that verse out loud more times than I can count. Every time a bad thought crept in, I said it. And there I was, beginning to find a few extra moments in each hour with which to breathe. And then I received a few hours back into each day. And then, days and weeks and months appeared, without worrying.
It had to be a consistent and conscious surrender on my part, while also maintaining the realization that worrying is based on pride. I knew that pride is not pleasing to God. Pride is us telling God that we’re good without His input; that we’ve got this. Fear is us not trusting Him; And worry is us telling Him that we think there could have been a better way of doing it. That He has somehow disappointed us and gotten it wrong. Surely He missed something or this problem that we are worried about wouldn’t exist. We do live in a fallen world, which guarantees problems..even for the Christian – especially for the vivacious Christian. But we also have another guarantee – “In this world you will have problems. But take heart. For I have conquered the world.” If Jesus has conquered the world, it means He’s already seen and touched every problem that finds its way into my life. I might not understand it, but He does. I am promised that He will use the problems for my good, to make me stronger, to build my character and to ultimately lead me to more maturity and peace in this life….if only I’m able to trust Him. Not scramble to take measures into my own hands (which I am oh, so capable of doing). Sadly, my type A friends and I could likely handle the situation very well. We might gain grey hairs and have sleepless nights, but we’ve always managed, right? We will worry about ourselves, thank you, and handle problems like no one else seems to be able to. Yes, I could live that way for my whole life and even be successful, and then die. But my, would I be missing out! This worry free life is something I’ve now tasted, and let me tell you – allowing God to lead is the only way to live life with peace. There is no other way. I am a recovering worrier, people-pleaser, control freak, task manager, event planner, take matters into-my-own-hands person, and I’m here to proclaim that there IS such a thing as worry free living. Not pain free. Worry free. The difference is that I trust that whatever pain I’m handed has purpose.
Another obstacle to conquer if we are to eradicate fear and worrying altogether, is to recognize them for what they are in the first place. Think about the decisions we all make on a daily basis. Are we attending the event out of fear of missing out, or are we attending out of love? Are we exercising for fear of gaining weight or are we loving on our bodies? Are we being overly protective of our children out of fear over what might happen, or are we lovingly raising them while simultaneously enjoying every moment of their little lives as we were designed, to? Are we attending church to stay out of hell or to experience a little bit of heaven? Are we fearful of the corona virus? Or are we remembering that for a follower of Jesus, the worst case scenario is spending eternity in heaven with Him?
If you believe that there is a God who loves you and gently beckons you to trust Him and get to know Him in this life, then I hope you also believe that satan is very real, enticing you to fear, to doubt, to worry and to isolate. His biggest victory is that people don’t believe he exists. He certainly believes you exist, and he knows exactly what scares you the most. His only goal is to intimidate you into a life based on fear instead of love. The pain we are experiencing here on earth is short lived, and he knows that if we begin to realize that, then Christ followers and the church will be unstoppable.
Fear is living “safely” because we believe we can and should prevent pain. Fear blames differences for division. Fear isolates. Fear lies. Fear causes more pain, and anger and frustration. Fear barks at our leaders who are standing in the trenches, and points fingers. Fear is exhausting. If faith is the foundation upon which we are called to build our lives, then fear is the wrecking ball out to destroy it. The opposite of love isn’t hatred; it’s fear.
So go ahead and do all of the things. Take precautions; wear a mask. Be smart. But above all else, do not allow your mind to be consumed by fear, doubt and worrying. “For who of you by worrying, can add a single minute to your life?” “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ.”
Perfect love drives out all fear.
2 Corinthians 10:5
1 John 4:18
1 Peter 5:8