Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
I remember learning this verse as I grew up attending Catholic school and going to Sunday mass. It was one of those verses everyone seemed to repeat, probably because they thought it bore repeating. It was a constant reminder that this physical world we live in is fraught with potential for negative thinking, but that worrying is, when it’s all said and done, pointless.
Yet most of us spend quite a bit of time doing it anyway.
A study out of the UK showed that Brits spend more than 6 entire years of their lives worrying, about, of all things, their weight, whether they are getting enough sleep, and, a truly worrisome type of worry – how much life is left on their cell phone battery. Half of the worries mentioned in the study were completely out of people’s hands. This means respondents were giving up years of their life stressing about things over which they had zero control.
And most worries, it turns out, are focused on things that never occur: worrying that our teenager won’t get home safely, fretting that we won’t get the promotion, wringing our hands that we won’t be able to handle a relative’s visit, getting sick to our stomach waiting for a health report to come in.
In fact, 85 percent of those taking part in a study worried about things that never happen, according to John Joseph Goewey, author of the book The End of Stress, Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain. Of the 15 percent that actually did happen, nearly 80 percent said that they handled the situation better than they thought they would or that they came out of it a better person, with a valuable lesson learned.
While the British solution to this problem is usually a cup of tea, the Christian solution is even easier, and, I’m willing to bet, much more effective. It’s simply to pray.
The best way to break any bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. In this case, the best way to stop worrying is to replace it with praying. Rather than imagining the worst and coming up with all the possible scenarios that may or may not happen, it’s much healthier and a lot more productive to talk to God about it. There’s power there, and He assures us of that.
Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing. This is the key to true change. The Bible doesn’t say, “Hey, when you’ve got a problem, let me know and I’ll solve it for you.” God doesn’t just want us to turn to Him when we need something and then expect him to perform miracles. Yes, he can definitely do that, but what he wants is a relationship with us that is ongoing, never ceasing. He wants us to talk to him constantly, to unburden ourselves and to let Him carry the cross for us. He wants to be our Father, to protect and comfort us.
In everything give thanks. He also wants us to be grateful and to recognize that hardships and obstacles serve a purpose. Sometimes we can identify what that purpose is, as did some of the survey respondents in Goewey’s study, and sometimes we can’t see if for decades. Sometimes we never see the purpose, but it is working inside of us, under the radar, to sharpen us, to make us better and stronger. Even in a worst-case scenario – a lab report that gives us a terrible diagnosis, for instance – we can still be grateful. We can thank God for the wonderful doctors who are caring for us, for our family and friends who have rallied around us, for our forced decision to slow down and evaluate our lives. With the power of prayer, we can come out of seemingly devastating situations with a deep sense of gratitude and a new appreciation for all that God has provided.
What will worrying get us? Absolutely nothing. It is – in every possible way – the opposite of prayer, the opposite of faith and trust in our Lord. So today, I challenge you to take a few minutes to make a list of everything you worry about. Your kids, your job, your health, money, your marriage, and on and on. Then turn your Worry List into your Prayer List. Pray ceaselessly to God and trust that He will handle it all.
Because He will. You have His word.
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