Sometimes fear just grips us. The “what-if’s” crowd our mind and, if we aren’t careful, we become enveloped by worry and doubts.
There are so many things to worry about, aren’t there?
What others think of us
Really, there is no end to the list of things we can worry about.
I can’t remember if I shared this before on the blog, but I want you to know that as a young woman I had an all-out battle with my flesh over this sin of worry (yes, I called it a sin). I would lay trembling and sweating in my bed because I was so scared of something that “could” happen. My mind would dwell for hours on the “what-ifs” and I would waste much God-given time on these thoughts. They were all-encompassing and would render me helpless.
This lasted for many years. Oh, I still lived a normal life and most people had no idea of what was going on inside my head. But I knew that the chains of worry had wrapped me tight and that I desperately needed to break free.
That was years ago, but I was reminded of this battle recently as this sin has loomed onto my horizon again after all these years.
I think as we get older, the things to worry about almost multiply and grow bigger. Instead of worrying about a child’s safety, we start worrying more about their eternal destiny. Along with worrying about finances, we become fully aware that we aren’t going to live forever and we can start worrying more about our health and death. Reality hits us square in the face and we see that there aren’t many happy endings in this world. Grandchildren bring more loved ones to worry about. And, of course, if we listen to the news, there is no end of things to worry about.
As a young woman, I was able to overcome this sin of worry through prayer and the Holy Spirit. Through that battle I learned some practical ways that helped me on a daily–even hourly– basis–
1. I ask myself “What’s the worst that can happen?” Sometimes the worst that can happen is really awful (at that point I move on to 2 and 3), but many times it is just something that is silly. For instance, if I need to speak or play a piano solo I can get really worried about messing up. But if I realize that the worst that can happen is that I make a fool of myself and then life moves on, it helps me to put that particular worry into perspective.
2. Train my mind to turn away from thoughts of “what if?” This was not easy to do, but once I developed this habit, it was by far the most helpful thing for me in this battle with worry. When my mind would start dwelling on the health issue and turn toward all its possible outcomes or when my mind would think about problems I was having with a child and then toward what that could mean for the child’s future, I trained myself to just stop thinking about the future and come back to the present. Now, I do recognize that is SO much easier to write than to do. But it is possible.
And one more thing to add here. Many years after my initial battle with worry, I realized that I started feeling heavy with worry after I would watch the news. The sad stories would depress me and the reports of random violence and increased socialism in this country would fill my heart with fear. At that point, I made the choice to stop watching the news. Oh, I still keep up with the important stuff, mostly via my family (who tell me anything going on that is news-worthy). But I made a conscious decision to stop watching on a nightly basis because of my personal battle with worry. Some of you can handle it just fine and that’s good. But I couldn’t.
3. Acknowledge and submit to the sovereignty of God. My brother (Pastor Dean) says that this is one of the most important aspects in our walk with God. As I have been studying scripture on my own, I realize that he is right. We cannot even be saved without this. Humility (by recognizing our sinful state) is the first step of salvation. But it doesn’t end with salvation. We continue to submit to God’s sovereignty as we walk with Him. It is the only way to have peace and joy and freedom from this sin of worry.
(As we grow older, it does help that we have experiences of God’s faithfulness to us during the hard times. We can see how He worked through difficult and heart-breaking situations and brought us through to the other side. Sometimes we can see the good that came out of those situations, but many times we can’t. But we recognize His strength and comfort and peace during that time and it helps us to face the next difficult time that comes along. Reading biographies of Christian men and women or having conversations with them is also very faith-building. God has worked in incredible ways through some very impossible circumstances.)
There is so much more that could be written about the sovereignty of God. If this is something you struggle with, I would suggest you read the book: The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. This helped me tremendously to have a better understanding of God’s sovereignty. In fact, this book was so helpful, it is included on my Books Worth Reading page.
These three things helped me tremendously as a young woman and for many years I didn’t really struggle with worry. But it reared its ugly head again just recently, as my mind started dwelling on all of the changes we are experiencing in this country and the ramifications of these changes. I find myself going back to square one and trying to put into practice these three things once again. I thought I’d share them here, in hopes that you, too, might find them helpful.
Do you struggle with worry? Do you have something to add to this list that might help us, too? I would love to hear how you have overcome your battle with this sin.