Faith: The Antidote to Worry

First of all, my apologies for not posting! I have not fallen off the face of the Earth but rather school and ministry has taken over my life for the past couple of weeks. I’m back though 🙂 

Here is a sermon I presented on Oct. 26:

“Worry” is such a common word in our culture. So common in fact that I bet it would be odd if you went a day without using the term “worry” at least once. I think it is safe to say that the term “worry” has almost become meaningless because we are so used to using the word and hearing the word. We say things like, “no worries” or “don’t worry about it” or even just expressing concern over someone by saying, “I’m worried about so and so.” We use “worry” so often that we have forgotten the weight of the word and what it really means, especially what it means to worry as Christians.

Worry has plagued our culture and the world. It just comes natural to us. When something bad happens that is out of our control, what is our natural reaction? We begin to worry. Because it is such a natural reaction for humans and for our culture, we are usually not mindful that Jesus commands us not to worry. If your not careful, worrying can snowball very quickly into a downward spiral. We begin to think of what ifs, we may create scenarios in our mind of what may or may not happen, it may develop into anxiety or you may become paranoid. If you allow worrying to get out of hand, worry can become chronic and you begin to lose sleep, perhaps your appetite slowly dwindles away, your job performance may decline and some turn to smoking, drugs or alcohol to try to seek relief from worry.

Take Joseph Stalin, for example, the Russian dictator. He is what you would call a paranoid chronic worrier. He was worried of being killed and so he had seven different bedrooms and would sleep in a different one each night and lock it up tighter than a safe. In order to fool any assassins, he also had five chauffeur-driven limousines that transported him wherever he went, each with curtains closed so no one would know which one he was in. Stalin allowed his bad habit of worry get so bad that he eventually employed a servant whose sole job was the monitor and protect his tea bags. If any one knows who Joseph Stalin is, you know Stalin had the right to be worried about being killed. This is an extreme example but what I’m trying to illustrate is that if you let it, worry can eat away at you, make you paranoid, make you think about things that just may not happen, and play tricks on your mind.

We worry about money, how we’re going to pay the phone bill next month, some worry about death and what happens after we die. People worry about work, school, getting laid off, or illness. I have even encountered some young people who have a genuine worry of zombies but if you ask me, that’s a bit far fetched.

So it appears that worrying is a natural inclination to human nature. Yet, Jesus commands us not to worry. In this passage alone, the term is found six times and Jesus commands us three times to not worry. He commands us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” He continues, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” and finally, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Worrying comes so natural to us yet our Saviour commands us to not worry. Since it’s a command, that means there’s no if’s and’s or but’s about it! I’m sure many here have read this passage many times but to actually not worry, seems almost impossible; as if it is going against the grain of human nature.

If you look at the Greek meaning of the word worry, μεριμνᾶτε it makes more sense. μεριμνᾶτε is translated as the opposite of trust in God, in other words, lack of faith; the faith that is needed in order to trust God. It puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder we have a culture that is filled with people who worry about most things in life because we also have a culture filled with unbelievers, people who do not have God part of their lives. Why wouldn’t they worry? If someone has not made a commitment to God and made a genuine choice to give their heart to Jesus, then they have no hope. So if there is no hope, worrying is inevitable because we try to figure things out on our own. They have a reason to worry because they do not have God in their life to put their full trust in.

When I discovered the meaning of worry, it hit me hard. I confess, I worry sometimes! Yet I have a relationship with God whom I talk to on a regular basis through prayer, who gives me hope, meaning in life, purpose in life, peace, happiness, He makes life whole and complete. Yet sometimes its so easy to let our problems become much bigger than God. He wants us to trust Him and if we are worrying, we are not doing that. Jesus is saying, trust God! He’s commanding us to trust God!

When we worry, it usually is triggered by something that is happening in life that is out of our control. Worry plagues our thoughts when we start to think we have to figure things out on our own when in reality, we have a God who wants us to trust Him and let Him have control. The truth is, life happens. Every once and awhile, life throws us a curve ball and most of the time, we can’t do a thing about it. When you worry, its a prideful way of thinking that you have way more control over your life than you actually do. What is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.

Jesus’ command to not worry is very clear. He tells us to not worry about our life, and the things we need to sustain life, food and clothes. Jesus is saying, if God has given you life, then why wouldn’t He provide what you need to sustain life? God gave you the gift of this life and created your body so why would you not trust God to provide what you need to sustain life? We have a really hard time trusting God. We are hesitant to give our problems to God because we want to have control and we want to take matters into our own hands. For me, sometimes I have the attitude of ‘hoping’ that God will take care of it instead of having ‘confidence’ that He will.

I heard a story recently that really spoken to my heart. There was a woman in Africa who needed shoes. Not in the way we would need shoes. We say we need shoes when there is a hole in them or when the sole wears down or simply because they go out of style and need a new pair to keep up with fashion. This woman didn’t even have one shoe. So she trusted God would provide. So she waited. And waited. And waited. Until weeks later, someone gave her a pair of shoes. She told her church family about how God had provided for her needs that Sunday at church and everyone cheered and praised God. God knew what she needed and so she gave it over to Him and trusted that He would take care of her needs.

I felt convicted when I heard this story. When I look in my closet at home, Evan and I have a whole shoe rack filled with our many shoes, not just one pair but several pairs of shoes for every season! We’re not wealthy by any means but I think everyone here can agree that we are all wealthier than that woman who waited upon God to provide the shoes that she needed. God has blessed our nation with money and I believe that can also be a curse. We can be quite distracted by all the stuff that surrounds us and still worry and have a hard time trusting that God will see us through.

When you replace the bad habit of worry with faith and trust in God, it changes your whole perspective on life. You begin to let go of things. You begin to feel peace. You feel a burden being lifted and never realized how heavy your shoulders really were from carry around all that stuff you were worried about. It’s an inward transformation that takes place. When you have a genuine trust in God, that He will take care of you and provide what you need, life begins to be lived as God intended. To the fullest!

There’s even proof that God provides and Jesus says, all we have to do is look at nature. Jesus says, ‘Look at the birds of the air; They do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?’ Birds are on a constant pursuit for food. When you see birds, they are either flying in search for food, perched on a branch looking where to go next, on your lawn eating the bugs and worms from the ground, or you would be hard pressed not to see a crow eating on the side of the road. I can honestly say, I have never seen a bird that has obviously died from starvation. Why? Because God provides food for the birds to sustain their life.

Jesus continues and says, ‘See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith?’ Jesus is pointing us to the beauty of nature. It’s such a beautiful part of God’s creation that really displays His creativity. When you look out the window this time of year, the leaves on the trees are painted beautifully with so many colours. Or when you think of flowers, there is no such thing as an ugly flower. Yet, God creates all these beautiful aspects of nature despite them having a short life-span. And here’s the kicker: God provides what they need to sustain life.

Jesus goes on to saying that we are like the pagans who worry. In other words, those who do not have God in their life, they worry, but those who have God in their life, they have faith and trust in God. In other words, those who don’t have God are characterized by worry and those who do have God are characterized by faith. In God’s eyes, what does it mean if we worry, Christians, those who have God in their life? If Jesus’ disciples worry, then their faith in God is like the faith someone would have if they didn’t have God in their life. It is the faith that we display as Christians that makes the difference. People notice that.

What if you, like the woman in Africa, needed a pair of shoes but you didn’t have the money to buy a new pair? Our human inclination would be to worry. Begin to make scenarios up in our head and think of the ‘what if’s’. Or what if, we decided to trust God. Trust that he would provide the shoes or the means to buy the shoes. Trust in His timing, not our own. Trust that he cares about us. And acknowledge and ask yourself, ‘If he created me and gave me life, then why wouldn’t He provide what I need to sustain this life?’ Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:8 that God knows what we need even before we ask!

If you worry, you accomplish nothing. You are only putting yourself in an uncomfortable spot of discontent and anxiety. I’m sure you have all heard the common saying: Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.’ There’s so much truth to that statement because worrying cannot change a thing, but faith can change everything.

Faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. So as Christians, the faith we have is complete trust in God. But I will be the first to admit, that is really hard sometimes. To not lean on your own understanding and not try to take matters into your own hands. By times, its seemingly impossible.

What we need to do when we find ourselves worrying is to replace the bad habit of worrying with the excellent habit of trusting God. So the next time you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself, ‘Am I going to worry about this or am I going to trust God with this?’ In other words, are you going to dwell upon it, think of the what ifs, become anxious, allow it to consume your mind, or are you going to let go, ask God to help you let go, and ask Him to take care of it because you trust Him. Are you going to have faith, or are you going to worry? Faith or worry, pick one, because you can’t have both.

1 Peter 5:7 tells us, ‘Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.’ God knows we worry. He knows we fret about the little things and the big things in life. But He doesn’t want us worry, He commands us not to. Being in a relationship with God puts you at an advantage when things happen in life. Being in a relationship with God is being completely dependent on God and realizing that we cannot live this life without Him. So we lean on Him in bad times, we seek His guidance when we don’t know quite what to do and we give Him praise and thanks when we see Him working in our lives.

God cares for us very much. He loves us. He created us. He chose to give us the gift of life. There’s proof all around us of the care He has for His creation. As Jesus says, all we have to do is look at nature. The beauty of it has despite having such a short life. Yet God cares about it all because He gives them all what they need to sustain their life. So if God cares about the rest of creation, how much more He cares for us! He gave us the gift of life, so why wouldn’t He give what we need to sustain it? He knows what we need even before we ask. He knows us better than we even know ourselves. He may not always what we want, but always what we need.

I came acrossed a cute story about a little girl who had the right idea and it goes like this:

A mother and her 4 year old daughter were getting ready for bed one night. The little girl was afraid of the dark, and the mother, on this occasion felt a bit fearful herself. When the light was out, the little girl caught a glimpse of the moon outside the window. ‘Mother,’ she asked, ‘Is the moon God’s light?’ ‘Yes,’ said the mother. The next question was, ‘Will God put out His light to go to sleep?’ The mother replied, ‘No, my child, God never goes to sleep.’ Then the child said to her mother, ‘Well, as long as God is awake, there is no sense both of us staying awake.’

That little girl has the right idea. Even when life doesn’t exactly go the way we want it to, and most of the time it doesn’t, as seen through the little girl’s eyes, we have a God who never goes to sleep. He’s always there, no matter how many times we try to figure it all out on our own. Worrying happens when we start to think we have to figure everything out on our own. As Christians, that’s not the case. We have faith in a God who loves us, cares about us and never breaks His promises. God is trustworthy. He is trustworthy and He is who we put our faith in, who give us hope, meaning and purpose. When things happen in life that cause us concern, we need God’s help.

So the next time you find yourself worrying, turn to God before trying to take it into your own hands. Ask God for help. Humble yourself and admit that you can’t do it on your own. God knows what’s going on in your life, even before you aks Him for help. Worrying never wins but trusting God never fails becasue you’ll find the antidote to worrying is trusting God.

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