I would like to take the liberty of crafting a Biblical definition of what worry really is. Worry is the chronic or even occasional act of dwelling on our negative actions and circumstances with no confidence that a solution will ever be revealed. In fact it is rather faithless to feel this way, but I believe we can all sympathize and relate to this type of worry and anxiousness. It’s the kind that makes your stomach feel slightly knotted with just a dash of increased heartbeat. Once you have reached this point it’s hard to stay focused on anything else! Maybe you are dwelling on how to pay the bills, your relationship to your spouse, or some other negative or uncontrollable circumstances. It could be you are caught up in dwelling on regrets or past mistakes and you just can’t shake the flashbacks! Let me be the first to confess that I have traveled down most of these dwelling roads and it is no picnic. In fact in some cases we can feel situational feelings of depression over what we let our minds dwell on. Sometimes the symptoms of worry can be so emotionally painful you may be tempted to get a prescription thinking it will fix your anxiousness, but trust me, unless you have a true chemical condition it won’t work. There are no magic pills.
Now that I have gotten you good and depressed I bet you are wondering where this is headed. We have learned that we arrived at a bad place because we dwelled on the wrong things. In fact the Bible tells us to fix our thoughts on honorable and true things. He desires for us to spend time on things that are worthy of praise. (Phil 4:8)
The problem was never simply fixing our mind, but fixing it on the wrong things! Quiz yourself and see where you have been letting your mind dwell. Can you honestly say it was fixated on pure and honorable things?
We need to understand that to worry is a sin! The Bible says that we are to worry or be anxious for nothing. (Phil 4:6) Paul goes onto tell us that we are to pray and give thanks to God because he is the ultimate peace giver! The result of bathing your issues in prayer is that God will guard your heart. Wow, we can be protected and guarded by God where we can be hurt the most, our heart. We are also specifically told to cast all of our cares on Him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) As we go down the list of scriptures we appear to be losing more and more traction on our reasons to worry.
Dwelling appears to play a major role in our worry so let’s talk for a moment about where we should allow our minds to dwell. There must be a place somewhere for a child of God’s mind to dwell where it can feel completely and totally safe from the circumstances and hurt of this world! To answer this I would like to tell you about an elderly gentleman my wife April and I used to help care for in 2000. His name was Roy Harris and he was a 90 year old homebound Alzheimer’s patient. Each time we would go by to see him we would ask him to recite Psalm 91. You see, even though Roy was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s he had memorized Psalm 91 when he was younger, and even through all he had forgotten, that Psalm still dwelled in his mind. The first verse said “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow Almighty.” (Ps 91:1) I learned a great deal from Roy about where my mind needs to dwell if I want a true sense of peace and contentment. I can dwell in the very presence of the Almighty God! I do this by spending extended time in reading the Bible and prayer. There is no better way to rid your body of the feelings of worry and anxiousness! In fact Jesus Christ has been subjected to the very same temptations, worry, and anxiety that we each face every day. The Bible says that Jesus experienced all of these emotions while on earth. Jesus understands and cares deeply for you and where you are in your life. (Heb 4:15-16)
If you have bothered to read to this paragraph you have a question to ask yourself. Where has your mind been dwelling? Have you been worried and anxious about many things in and around you? My prayers are with all those who have allowed worry and anxiousness to encompass their lives. I pray that you will dwell in the shelter of the Most High today.
In the past 25 years of working in and around people in a variety of situations I have been pondering some of the significant trends that I have observed. As a police officer I spent many hours in the midst of conflict and crisis trying to bring issues to at least some temporary absolution. If you wonder what I mean by this, as an officer you are trying to resolve the issue for the evening or day, long enough to stop the parties from killing each other so that you could move onto the next call for police service. I am not saying I liked doing it this way, but that’s just how it works in the real world. It never was my job to change someone’s heart, which is the only real way to a permanent solution, and I accepted long ago that only the work of Jesus Christ could accomplish such an ominous task. It was almost a comfort to grasp this principle because I knew I could only solve so much in one evening, and that it wasn’t my job to fix the people involved. My primary frustration stemmed from the fact that the people involved almost never grasped this principle!
As I reflect and consider all the homes I visited as a police officer, and even the people who have visited me as Christian counselor, there are trends, and commonalities that do not fall into the category of coincidence. I also believe that I witnessed enough to dispel some of the myths that the answer to happiness and peace may lie in the amount of money you have. This discussion is not exhaustive for the sake of length, but we will look at one particular area. Many times all that a lot of money and resources really does to a family is prolongs and desensitizes them to the urgent needs in their lives. It’s not that money, and resources are bad, but that it sometimes can subdue our sensitivity to the real meaning and purpose of our lives. It’s the same reason we have feeling in our hands, and fingers. If that feeling wasn’t there we could leave our hands on the stove until we smelled burning flesh. Money and resources can sometimes just prolong the issues in our lives that are slowly and deliberately sucking the very life out of us both emotionally and spiritually.
A good example of this is found in the story of the Rich man and the poor man Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31) The Rich man never realized his need until it was too late. He had everything he needed at his fingertips! He had servants, gold, the best food, and much more. Why would he look to the God who created him for anything? Maybe he was just waiting to be tested by God at some point in his life, and the testing never came. Maybe the test was to see if he would realize who allowed him to possess all he owned and become grateful to God for his lot in life! In any case it appears he never thought it to be necessary to reflect and worship God, because he was happy to live with plenty for the realized short-term gain he received. You could say he was no different than the “instant-gratification” crowd which wants a quick fix, but no commitment or accountability that would take some intentional effort. If you have never met someone like this go to any church this Sunday and you will find hundreds of them. (James 1:9)
You may think I just wrote this scathing piece to belittle and scold the evil rich people, but I didn’t write this for them at all. In fact I have many Christ serving and Godly friends who most likely have more money in their wallets than I have in my 401-K and bank account combined. There are many good Christian people with a giving heart who desire to do for others before themselves and this article wasn’t written to address them. This article was targeted to those of you who spend more time using phrases such as “If only we had more” or “If God just takes care of our money situation we will be more faithful to Him.” I am writing to those who may currently be in a family conflict or poor spiritual condition, and I am going to ask you to consider the utterly ridiculous.
We need to thank God everyday that he allows us to go through tough times whether financial or emotional. As crazy as it may seem to those who are hurting, there is a plan and purpose for your circumstances. Many rich and well resourced people may not see there immediate need, but you have the opportunity to experience, and make the necessary surrender that Christ requires of you. You have a chance to grow and mature in your Christian walk and see your faith blossom in a way that can only come through reliance on Jesus Christ!
Maybe you are one of those who’s financial and emotional world is falling apart around them and you can barely see an exit, but rejoice that this is a time of great opportunity in your life! With breath in your lungs and a relationship with Jesus Christ you can make it through your dark feelings of depression and despair! Realize that you have clearly seen that you do not have the strength to make it through your circumstances, which means you are going to have to totally rely on Christ alone! (Philippians 4:11-13; James 1:1-9)