The late Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor, once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
Anxiety is an indubitable part of our lives. When we are anxious we often become so preoccupied with what may happen in the future that we forget to be attentive to the present. How many of us worry about imagined shortcomings, the future, our health, our families, and our work? Such concentrated energy on worrying about the future can be crippling, preventing us from living into God’s will for our lives right now.
As Christians we are invited to trust that God will provide our every need: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33). In other words, we shouldn’t worry about the things we cannot change. We are to trust God, be patient and let God work things out for us. I know, I know. Easier said than done, right?
A business executive once drew up what she called a “Worry Chart,” in which she kept a record of her worries. She discovered that 40 percent of her worries were about things that probably would never happen, 30 percent were about past decisions that she could not now unmake, 12 percent were about other people’s criticism of her, and 10 percent were about her health. She concluded that only 8 percent of her worries were really legitimate—in other words, things she could do something about.
How many of us are like this business executive? Rather than spending time concentrating on things we can control or change, we focus on those things that haven’t happened, won’t happen, or happened some time ago and cannot be changed now.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all worry is bad. Some amount of tension, as a driving force, may well be healthy. Some tension helps encourage us in tasks that lie before us. But some of us are chronic worriers and if we don’t have something of consequence to worry about, we’ll invent it. The late Evan Esar, American humorist, said it best: like a rocking chair, worry gives us something to do, but it won’t get us anywhere.
In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “Therefore, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Instead of worrying about our jobs or worrying about our families or worrying about our country or worrying about our health or worrying about whether we will find our true love or worrying about what to do with the love we’ve already found, we need to ask ourselves, “Can I add a single hour to my life by worrying about any of these things?”
Perhaps you are facing a difficult decision or problem and you’re anxious about it. Maybe you’re terrified about what the future may bring for you in 2017. My prayer is that you will be able to bring your anxiety to God and allow God’s Spirit to bring you peace in your present situation. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to “be anxious for nothing,” but instead to be active in praying to God about their concerns (4:6). Give it a shot! It certainly cannot hurt. Or, speak with someone that you trust and have them pray for you. Sometimes it is just better to give your worries over to someone who cares.
As we enter this New Year, may you be strengthened by the Prince of Peace, who calls to us, saying, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
Wishing you a Happy and Worry-Free New Year!
Pastor Steven D. Pierce
Follow Pastor Steve on Twitter @revspierce