We’re a worrisome bunch. According to the World Health Organization, America is the most anxious country in the world, with 1/3 of us suffering from an anxiety disorder at some point in our lives. And we Millennials are the most worried of all, according to the American Psychological Association. More than half of young adults surveyed admit to having lost sleep in the past month because of anxiety.
And that’s a bad thing, because worrying is a waste of life. Not just a waste of time, but a waste of life. As I mentioned in our ¼ Life Crisis series, worrying makes us less productive and keeps our physical bodies in a state of high stress, which over time can cause health problems.According to WebMD, those health problems include six of the leading causes of death. Or, as Jesus in Matthew 6:27 says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The answer, clearly, is “no.”
Now you’re probably worried about the fact that you’re worried. So what do you do about it? You wage war on worry. Here’s how:
1. Remember that God is in control.
Matthew 6:33 says that, instead of worrying about worldly things, we should “seek first his kingdom.”
God is up to something. If our goal is to help advance God’s kingdom and focus on what is eternally important, we really have nothing to worry about. You can be certain that God will accomplish His purposes, so by aligning with His purposes, it’s impossible for you to fail.
That doesn’t mean you won’t face temporary earthly problems, as everyone does. But God works through those things as well, taking what is wrong and broken and redeeming it for a greater good. Which brings us to the next point:
2. Remember that God is good.
You wouldn’t really want God to be in control unless He was also good. Which is probably why the verse above (Matthew 6:33) continues: “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
The dictionary definition of righteousness is “the quality of being morally right or justifiable.” God is morally right—He defines the term—and everything He does or allows to happen is justifiable because He uses it to accomplish a greater good.
I see this all the time in people who take their past mistakes or hardships and use those experiences to help others. That’s how pretty much every ministry at our church started: people who had been through abortion, abuse, adoption, or alcoholism (just to give a few “A” examples) experienced healing and freedom through God’s work in their lives, and were then used by God to help dozens or hundreds of other people overcome the same problems.
It can still be hard to see God’s goodness in the short term, when in the midst of hard situations. That’s why you have to trust. When Jesus—the sinless, immortal Creator of the universe—was tortured and killed as a criminal, it looked like the most broken and unfair event in history. But God was in control even then, and used it to perform the greatest good in history.
3. Take it one day at a time.
Finishing up the passage in Matthew, we have this advice from Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I give my worries a 12-hour boundary. If it’s not coming up in the next 12 hours, I don’t worry about it. I might prepare for it, if needed—I don’t wait until 12 hours before a sermon to start working on it—but I’m not going to worry about it. I know that worrying about a potential problem doesn’t make it any less likely to happen, but it does make me less happy and less productive in the meantime.
What are you worried about?