|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
Each one of us travels through mountains and valleys as we sojourn through life on earth. How do you handle the lows of life? Are you prone to fret, worry and become anxious? Or, are you like the proverbial ostrich – burying your head in the sand – pretending the difficulty is an allusion and not really there? Perhaps you become angry and blame others or God for the problem. Or, do you turn to God in prayer, trusting in His Word? “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
Jesus frequently spoke on the topic of being anxious or of worry. He taught in Matthew 6:25-34 that we are not to become “anxious (NAS),” “worry (NKJV)” or “taking thought (KJV)” for the necessities of life. He further admonished that if God provides for the animals and grass, He will provide for His children. The Greek word “merimna” as used in this passage means, “‘to draw in different directions,’ distract, hence signifies ‘that which causes this, a care, especially an anxious care’” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). Jesus taught that we should not worry about physical life. When we place God first in life, God will care for us. Jesus was not saying that “we should sit back and wait for the necessities of life to be handed to us on a silver platter.” He taught that we should not worry about obtaining the necessities of life as we work to provide for ourselves and our families.
Jesus gently rebuked Martha for worrying about the meal while Mary listened to the teachings of our Lord. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42). Yes, Martha had the responsibility of caring for the guest in her home, but that concern should not overshadow the need to listen to the Words of our Savior.
Jesus warned the disciples of the coming difficulties they would face. He further taught that they were not to worry about how to answer those in authority when questioned (Luke 12:1-12).
When Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee, Peter asked to join Christ on the water. As Peter walked atop the water toward Christ, he became anxious and began to sink. Jesus rescued him and then rebuked him stating, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:22-38). Jesus linked Peter’s anxiousness with a lack of faith. Throughout His time on earth, Jesus condemned those who allowed the cares of this world to overshadow the love and care God has for His children.
Peter and Paul also taught against worry or being anxious. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” We must turn our worries over to God because He loves and cares for us.
Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Paul taught us that we should not worry. We will have peace when we turn our troubles over to the Lord!
Worry is probably one of the most difficult sins for Christians to overcome. Today’s society is awash with immorality and economic woes. We are concerned about the future of our nation for our children and grandchildren. Then, there are the low points in our lives. It may be health issues, the loss of a job, difficulties with a child, caring for an elderly parent, etc. With all these struggles in life, we can easily lose sight of our Heavenly Father who cares for us. We may go to God in prayer, turning all our concerns over to Him only to pick those problems back up when the prayer is over. Often we fail to leave our concerns with God, and thus we have not followed the instructions of Paul in Philippians 4:6-7.
So how do we as Christians overcome the sin of worry? First, we must have a deep, abiding faith in God, trusting God to keep His promises.
Second, we need to study God’s Word. A study of Bible characters who kept their faith during troubling times will encourage us to do likewise. Some of these individuals would include: Joseph, Daniel, David, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Stephen, Peter and Paul. These men remained faithful to God even when their lives were in jeopardy. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego went into the fiery furnace without worry. They knew God would protect them or take them home to heaven. Either choice was a good choice for them. Read Hebrews Chapter Eleven for a longer list of men and women who exhibited great faith.
Third, we need to change our hearts from anxiousness and worry to faith and peace. Wise King Solomon stated, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). To change the heart, we must think on the things of our Lord. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Worry is the one sin with which almost every Christian struggles. Our Father said through the pen of the apostle Paul that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is the verse that gives me hope and encouragement during the valleys of my pilgrimage upon this earth. I know what the Scriptures teach; however, putting those passages into practice can be difficult from time to time. I wish I could say that I have overcome the sin of worry, but alas I still succumb to the temptation of the devil and fall into his snare from time to time. When I do fall, God will welcome me back into His loving arms when I repent and ask for His forgiveness (Acts 8:21-22).
Will you turn to God and repent of the sin of worry, making it the occasional slip rather than an everyday practice in your life? God is waiting with open arms to welcome you back into His fold!
[Editor’s Note: Bonnie Rushmore, my dear wife, is fighting stage 3 pancreatic cancer. For months she endured doctors practicing medicine with various procedures and surgeries in several hospitals in two states until they dismissed her, all the while having failed to ascertain that she had cancer. Not satisfied, she and I opted for surgery to remove an obstruction that other doctors had merely determined to chisel through without surgery and through which to insert a stent. To our surprise and dismay, in that surgery the real cause and severity of her illness was discovered. Extensive surgery past, months of chemotherapy lie ahead. Some days Bonnie feels relatively good, but on other days pains, tiredness and tears visit her. Those circumstances are a major resource from which Bonnie has written a very good article for all of us. ~ Louis Rushmore]