I was watching a documentary some time ago and someone was asked if he worried about losing his fortune. He retorted: “I don’t worry about anything.” I was taken aback because if he is being truthful, then he has cracked something a lot of us are still struggling with. Many of us worry about the things we need, the things we want, the people we care about, the outcomes we desire in life, the challenging situations we face, the future, the past, etc., the list is endless.
We sometimes try to fix these worries by chasing things or situations we think will make us secure because worry is intrinsically linked to security. Have you ever seen insecure billionaires, models, film stars, politicians or nobles? Have you ever thought “if I was rich, famous, powerful, good looking, etc., I would have nothing to worry about?” Clearly, this isn’t true because life shows us that neither wealth, fame, power, race, sex nor class exempts us from worry. If left unchecked, worry evolves into anxiety, and anxiety evolves into fearfulness. That is no way to live.
Jesus addressed our propensity to worry with the command: “do not worry” [Matthew 6:24]. The truth is that if we truly believe that the Jesus is who He says He is and we are who He says we are, then we would be secure in His promises and there would be no reason to worry. Yet, so often our circumstances make us doubt God and those promises. Some don’t even know God’s promises concerning them because they seldom read their Bibles. It is difficult to believe in a promise you don’t know about. While reflecting on worry, I imagined how I would feel if my 6-year old son was walking around the house worrying about where his next meal was going to come from or if he would have a bed to sleep in tomorrow. I realised that would sadden me. I suspect God feels the same way.
Before issuing that command on worry, Jesus told those gathered that it is impossible to serve God and something else (money, fame, power, etc.) [Matthew 6:23]. You cannot claim to be a child of God and seek security in something else. Jesus assured them that our heavenly Father knows what we need. Just as He meets the needs of plants and animals who are less valuable than us, He will meet our needs too. He wrapped up this teaching by instructing us to put God and His kingdom first (above our needs) and He will deal with our worries. Jesus is teaching us that in the face of worry, an all-sufficient, all-knowing, all-powerful God is the only security worth having.
I must confess; I struggle with worry often. My personality type is one that is prone to worry. I tend to imagine the worst-case scenario when faced with challenging situations. If as I suspect, worrying is common amongst Christians, how can we help each other? Well, here are some thoughts. Firstly, don’t isolate yourself. God can send an angel to help you but most likely, the help you need will come from someone He has placed around you. When you isolate yourself, you are like a soldier alone on the battlefield, far more susceptible to attack. Secondly, resolve to lay aside any façade and be vulnerable. So many Christians bring their worries to church, put up a brave face and pretend to be fine, and take their worries back home with them. If we can’t be vulnerable in our Christian fellowships, what’s the point?
On the other hand, if someone has been courageous enough to vulnerable to you, encourage them. The Bible commands us to encourage each other [Hebrews 10:24-25] because we all need it at some point. Paul wrote about the challenges and opposition Christians would face in these last days [2 Timothy 3:1-8], and we are witnessing his words come to pass. Every so often, we are on the receiving end of the injustices and unfairness of life because the world can be a vicious place. In those moments, a word of encouragement goes a long way [Proverbs 12:25, Proverbs 16:24]. Celeste Holm put it beautifully: “We live by encouragement and die without it – slowly, sadly and angrily”. It is also worth pointing out that if you are looking to encourage someone, focus on what is causing the worry. Don’t criticise them or don’t mock their faith. You do not know how you fare in their shoes.
Lastly, the greatest words of encouragement are in God’s Word. We are commanded to study them and weave them into the very fabric of our lives [Deuteronomy 6:6-9]. This is for our benefit because they are essential for life. In the times of worry, God’s Word is our most potent weapon as it reveals who our God is and His promises concerning us. God wants us to know who He is so that we can have the confidence and security to face life without worry, anxiety and fear.
My brother once asked me what would happen if we started to really believe what the Bible said. Amongst other things, I am certain we would truly stop worrying. I end with words to live by as a child of God: ‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ [Isaiah 41:10 AMP]. That is a promise.