Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breaking the Worry Habit

See how trusting God breaks the worry habit

I am a worrier. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian and Christians aren’t supposed to worry. To give you an idea of how long this has been going on, our eldest son’s first words were, “Oh dear!” That was well over 40 years ago. I’d been a Christian worker for many years when he said that, and I was a missionary to boot!

I can understand perfectly why people who don’t know Jesus worry. They have no anchor for their soul or anyone to hush their fears to sleep. They have no one to pray for them, support them in their darkest hour, or assure them that there is a heaven to go to, a Christ to take them there, and a Holy Spirit to permeate their souls with a peace that passes understanding like believers in Jesus do. Even though I became a Christian, I found to my great disappointment that I simply had a whole set of new things to worry about!

At first, I worried I would lose my friends if I told them about the Lord. Would I have the courage to stand for Christ at my university? How would my newfound faith affect my relationship with my boyfriend? Later, when married and in full-time Christian work, I worried my kids would grow up to reject God. I was hoping that knowing Him, reading the Bible, and praying would stop the things I worried about.

I searched the Bible to see if it would promise me a trouble-free life. Sadly, I found no guarantees. In fact, Jesus said to His disciples:

“You will have trouble” (John 16:33). And Paul reminded believers having a hard time, “To you it is given on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His Name” (Phil. 1:29).

So I have fought a lifelong battle with worry. What do I worry about now that I have been a Christian all these years? All the things I worried about at the beginning: family, relationships, church, and the world!

I still worry about the past I can do nothing about and, likewise, the future. I worry about the present that I can do something about, that I won’t be able to do anything about it! I worry about my family and their families, too; and because we have 13 grandchildren, you can see I have plenty of worry practice!

I worry about the talks I have to get ready for. I worry that I won’t have enough time to prepare, or material to teach, or that the talks won’t be interesting and keep people’s attention. I worry about the world in turmoil, the travel we do, and whether terrorism will win the day. I worry about our friends around the world who live in dangerous situations for Jesus’ sake.

If I worry enough, a little voice tells me, maybe God will see all that worry and be pleased with me for being so concerned that He won’t let anything I’m worrying about happen! Wrong! I have come to realize bad things happen to good people, even God’s people - or especially God’s people! However, I have also learned that worry concerns Him. It’s not His will for His children to worry their lives away. He has something so much better in mind for all of us. In fact, He explicitly forbids us to worry! “Do not worry,” He tells us in Matthew 6.

In my care for Christian women, I see worry as a universal dilemma. Seeing I am an expert worrier, let me share a few of my life lessons with you.

Worry is one of the devil’s gifts.

The devil wants me to worry. In fact, just as God is concerned when I worry, Satan worries when I don’t! Fear and worry are the tools of his trade. He stands by day and night to help us worry about something. Anything! He is sick with worry if we aren’t sick with worry. He knows if we worry we don’t trust, and He can’t stand us depending on God. That drives him crazy! God has not given us the spirit of fear, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). If the devil’s gift is a spirit of fear, since when have we accepted gifts from the devil? God wants us to win the worry war and deal with our fears. He wants us to trust and rely wholly on Him.

As I read the story of the disciples paralyzed with fear in the storm at sea, I realize that “the mother of all storms is allowed by the Father of all comfort” in order to reduce us to size, show us our need for God, and send us running into His saving arms.

Author Information: Jill Briscoe is the executive editor of Just Between Us magazine, and it is her heart to care for Christian women. She has served on the board of directors for World Relief and Christianity Today, Inc., and is a popular speaker around the world. Jill and her husband, Stuart, have three grown children and 13 grandchildren.

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