Don't Worry


&       All Bible verses from the New International Version

’Tain’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.
Sarah Orne Jewett

A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.
Sir John Lubbock

It ain't no use putting up your umbrella till it rains.
Alice Caldwell Rice

It is distrust of God to be troubled about what is to come; impatience against God to be troubled with what is present; and anger at God to be troubled for what is past.  
Simon Patrick 

No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourself so.   
George Macdonald 

Not work, but worry makes us weary.
S. I. McMillen

 Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us.    
Oswald Chambers  

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but doesn't get you anywhere.
Bernard Meltzer

Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
Arthur Somers Roche  

   Somebody said to me, “When I worry I go to the mirror and say to myself, This tremendous thing which is worrying me is beyond a solution.  It is especially too hard for Jesus Christ to handle.’  After I have said that, I smile and I am ashamed.”
Corrie Ten Boom 

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
Corrie Ten Boom

I am a third generation worrier, reaching the level of expert in my teens. I have learned from the best. My mother worried. My aunts worry. My grandmother was a worrier. Just after she turned 90, I helped my Aunt Jeannette move into an assisted care living apartment. She was the head of our family for years. She worried about each of us. Much of that worry was expressed in positive ways that changed our lives. She put my sister and me through college and helped my entire family through the years. Her worrying and “nagging” kept us in line. I am thankful now for her nagging, but much of her worrying only served to torture her mind. 

Now I am responsible for making certain Aunt Jeannette gets the right care. I worry that she won’t be comfortable, that she won’t have all the things she wants from her old apartment. What if I don’t get all the bills paid? What if she doesn’t like her new apartment? What if?


Are Some of us Born Worry Warts?

Are some of us born prone to worry? Or is worrying a learned habit? Probably a little of both. Scientists are finding evidence that excessive worrying can be caused by certain parts of the brain working overtime - the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and cingulate cortex. Studies have isolated a gene that influences serotonin production in the brain. This gene could determine if a person is likely to be born a worrier. 

Since heredity and environment seem to play important roles in predisposing us to excessive worry, can I excuse my behavior? No, worry is still a sin. Jesus tells us not to worry in

&       Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25

God does not ask us to do anything without giving each of us all that is needed to do it. We are each more prone to certain sins. Worry is the sin I’m most prone to entertain. Worry expresses our lack of faith in God, harms our witness and hurts our bodies.

Why did God make me this way? Why does He let me worry so much? He made each of us different for a reason. Without worry, I don’t think I would see my need for Him. He loves me and wants to have a close relationship with me. Worry draws me to Him because when I’ve reached my limit, I realize how helpless I am without Him. A key to peace of mind and a closer relationship with God is recognizing our dependence on Him before we let worry get out of hand.


Can We Change Our Worrying Ways?

Yes, we can change the way we worry. We can make worry work for us, instead of against us. And we can decrease our worrying time, freeing hours for more productive activities. I have learned several methods to change my worrying ways. God is still working with me in all these areas.

Give your Worries to God 

&       Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

How do we do this? Through prayer. Turn your worries into prayers. When worries pop into your head, list them in a “Worry Book.” Schedule a daily prayer time to pray about each item listed and try to resist the urge to worry during the rest of the day.

While you are praying, remind yourself of God’s past acts of faithfulness. Write them down in a “Blessings Book.” Before long, you will have a notebook filled with personal examples of God’s love. Even in a crisis, your Blessings Book will help you remember that God is still our Comforter, Shepherd, Counselor, Savior, and Sovereign King. 

Memorize Scripture

When your worries are getting the best of you, the Holy Spirit will bring memorized verses to mind. A few years ago, I was troubled with anxiety attacks, especially when I was driving as part of my work. I printed out Philippians 4:4-9 and carried it with me. When I felt my anxiety rising, I meditated on these verses. Before long, I had them memorized. 

&       Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Even in the midst of my anxiety, I was to rejoice in the Lord and remember that He is near. But how? The Bible never tells us to do something without telling us how to do it. These verses reminded me to calm down and give my problems to God. Verses 8 and 9 prompted me to refocus on other things. When I do this, I can rejoice in the Lord.

Obey God

Many of my worries involve guilt. I feel less guilt and worry less when I obey God and do his will,. When we slip up, we need to seek God’s forgiveness. I worried about Aunt Jeannette living alone. She had fallen twice. When she decided to move, I wanted to put it off a week - for my convenience. I spent several anxious hours worrying that my aunt would fall again if we didn’t help her move right away.

I prayed about the situation and the Lord helped me adjust my priorities. When I decided to immediately make the two-day trip to help Aunt Jeannette move, my mind was at rest. I knew I was doing the right thing. I asked God to forgive me for putting my wants before Aunt Jeannette’s needs. 

Connect With Others 

Develop relationships with friends you can trust. I have a friend I can call anytime with any problem. Just knowing Rose is there reduces my worrying. I knew they were praying for me while I was moving Aunt Jeannette.

A word of caution, though - don’t talk your worries to death. For me, there is a point when talking about a problem stops helping and begins to increase my worries. At this point, I decide not to talk about the problem unless I come up with a new aspect or solution. When I stop talking about a problem, I gradually stop dwelling on it and spend more time praying about it. After several days, new solutions may come to mind. Or maybe it is simply a problem I can do nothing about. I just need to give it to God and leave it in His hands.    

Get Organized

In Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George tells us to focus on doing God’s will today, instead of worrying about tomorrow. She encourages us to prepare, plan, pray, proceed and trust God to provide. Knowing I am prepared helps me resist the temptation to worry about tomorrow. Prepare the evening before for the next day, and then start each day with prayer. Make short term and long term plans. Pray about your plans, then give them to God. Lay your plans before him and ask him to make changes, according to his will. Having done all this, we can proceed, trusting God to provide for all we need to do his will.  

I depended on this advice while moving Aunt Jeannette. Each evening I made a “To Do List” of things I needed to do the next day. I took great pleasure in checking off each task as it was completed.

Fix What You Can

While many things are out of our control, we often worry about things we can do something about. Ask yourself three questions:

         Can I do anything about this problem? If not, concentrate on other ways to control your worry.

         What can I do about this problem? List all the options that come to mind.

         Which plan will I choose? Pray about it, then choose a plan of action. Write down the steps you will take to solve your problem, then carry out your plan. If it doesn’t work, choose another plan. 

We bought a new van and planed to give our old van to our daughter who lives over a thousand miles away. Since her husband can work on cars, he can keep it running many more years. How could we safely get it to them? We prayed about it and discussed our options, then decided they would drive over and tow the van back with their truck. With a plan of action, we still had many steps left to carry out the plan. We listed all the steps involved in transferring the title and towing a van across the country. 

Reality Test Your Thoughts

When a negative thought comes to mind, question it. Ask yourself, “Am I misinterpreting the facts?” Worriers often catastrophize situations. We dwell on the worst that can happen. Find a positive person to help you reality test your worries. My husband, Jim, is my reality tester. I often ask him, “Is this something I should worry about?” If he agrees that the problem deserves worry, I apply my methods for dealing with worry.

If Jim tells me I have blown a problem out of proportion or there is nothing I can do about it, I try to put aside the worry. This is when I put Philippians 4:8 to work: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.” When the negative thoughts have no validity, the positive ones will usually win out. Try to follow the direction of Philippians 4:8 when you are not worried too. Make positive thoughts a habit, then negative thoughts are less likely to dominate your mind. 

During the move, my worries about Aunt Jeannette were worst in the evenings. My husband helped me decide which worries I could do something about and which ones would have to be left up to God. Then I made my “To Do List.” There were some things I couldn’t do anything about. What if I threw out something she would want later? What if she doesn’t like her new apartment? What if she falls again?

Take Care of Yourself

                                                                                                

There is a definite physical basis for worry. Caring for your body will help reduce your worries.
  • Maintain a balanced diet. This will help your entire body stay healthy, including your brain. Some substances, such as caffeine, can make some people feel anxious. If you find you are more worried and anxious after eating certain foods, stay away from them. Try not to overeat or undereat, and don’t use food to treat anxiety, frustration and worries.
     
  • Develop a regular exercise plan, exercising at least three times a week - and when worries are at their worst for quick results. Exercise causes your body to produce various chemicals, including endorphins, corticosteroids, neurotrophins and neurotransmitters. These soothe your mind. Exercise can help your mind focus, reduce anxiety, control aggressive feelings, and reduce depression.
     
  • Get enough sleep. People who don’t sleep enough are more prone to worry. Lack of sleep clouds judgment and can make you irritable, edgy, distracted, and anxious. Individual sleep requirements vary. Experiment to find out how much sleep makes you feel your best.
     

  • Spend time relaxing daily, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Listen to soothing music, participate in a favorite hobby, take a warm bath, or read a good book - whatever helps you relax.

These principles helped me deal with the daily worries while I moved my aunt. None of my fears came to pass.

&           Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

Remembering that ultimately, worry doesn't do any good helped me devote more time to Aunt Jeannette's emotional needs as she gave up much of her independence. When I was with her, I could appear calm and confident instead of rushed and frazzled. I know I can trust God with every detail of my life.


 When Worry Gets Out of Hand - When to Get Help

Sometimes worry can be a symptom of more serious problems. If worrying interferes with your daily functioning and nothing seems to help, seek further help. Your pastor can help you with the spiritual aspect of your problem with worry. Consult your doctor to get an assessment for physical causes of excessive worry. These may include general anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and thyroid imbalance.

Further Reading About Worry 

Fuller, Cheri. Trading Your Worry for Wonder, A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1994

George, Elizabeth. Loving God with All Your Mind. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996.

Haggai, John. How to Win Over Worry, (1959). Reprinted in Winning Over Pain, Fear and Worry. New York, NY: Inspirational Press, 1991

Kraft, Vickie. Facing Your Feelings, Moving From Emotional Bondage to Spiritual Freedom. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1996.

Minerth, Frank, MD, Paul Meier, MD, and Don Hawkins, Th.M. Worry Free Living. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989


Fear
By Cherry Pedrick

I am overwhelmed with fear, though there is nothing to fear.
The fear wells up from my heart, filling my entire being.
It takes my breath away and paralyzes my limbs.
My thoughts are consumed with fear and dread day and night.
I am powerless to control it, for it controls me, threatening my life.

 To whom can I turn? Where can I find solace?
I will turn to my Lord, who made me and knows me.
I will give Him control of the fear that has controlled me.
Indeed, I have given Him control of my whole life
Over and over again, then taken it back. 

But He is faithful and merciful.
He accepts me and understands me.
He takes control of my fears when I release them.
But, Oh its so hard to release them,
It’s so hard to trust Him completely, so hard to give Him control.


 I can . . . I will . . . Replace Those Weeds with Beautiful Flowers!
By Cherry Pedrick 

I am burdened with floating anxieties.
They are nameless fears that seem to float in the air like seeds of ugly weeds.
They take root in my mind and are watered with thoughts and fed by worries
They poke through as seedlings, barely recognizable but gaining in importance.
They grow into more worries with names and faces.
Fully grown, they are very difficult to be rid of.
But the sooner caught the easier I can rid my mind of them.
If only I could blow them away when they’re still floating in the air.
Then reach out and replace them with the seeds of beautiful flowers
. . . good thoughts and memories, blessings of today and yesterday.
I could . . . well, I can . . . let them take root in my mind and grow into dreams and goals,
plans and commitments.
I will fill my mind with these so there’s no room for anxiety, fears and worries.
 



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