Worry: Life’s Sneaky Bandit
by C.A. Phillips
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
I have a disease. It’s called TCF: Trying to Control the Future. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what’s ahead. Check that. I spend an inordinate amount of time growing anxious over what may or may not lie ahead. True story.
Somehow, despite professing that the Lord is sovereign over all things, I have adopted this mindset that it’ll be best if I spend all my mental faculties in an attempt to orchestrate the most desirable outcome. I plan for endless contingencies: :If THIS happens, then I’ll do THIS. If THAT happens, I’ll do THAT. If NEITHER of those happen, I’ll have to ratchet up the intensity of my willpower to ensure the end result is, at least, palatable.
The thing is, virtually everything I spend time toiling over is out of my control. Sure, I can make a phone call, send a text message, have a sidebar conversation, or write a strongly-worded email or letter and try to influence a particular situation. Still, the outcome of what consumes me is beyond my grasp.
I’m not sure how it happened, but I have convinced myself that the outcomes I desire most are best. I don’t want surprises – in fact, I hate surprises. I like knowing what’s coming. Truth be told – I never really know what’s coming. It’s a false sense of security, but one I cling to nonetheless.
I’ve learned recently that there are a bunch of people like me out there. People who become anxious over anything in their lives that doesn’t “fit between the lines” of what is considered ideal.
Did you know that studies have been conducted about the things we worry about? In a study conducted by Penn State University, researchers found that 91 percent of “testable” worries never came true. And, of the nine percent that did, the outcomes were more favorable than anticipated a third of the time.
So, what’s the point I am trying to make here? Well, as Jesus told us himself, worrying does nothing for us.
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)
When we worry, we rob ourselves of the present. We focus so much on future unknowns that we miss what’s happening right now.
So, how can we change our mindset? Paul gave us an antidote to fear and anxiety in his letter to the church at Caesarea Philippi:
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Paul says, when you become anxious, take it to the Lord. Be honest with Him and He’ll give you peace that surpasses understanding. Then, replace those anxious thoughts with things that are “excellent and worthy of praise.”
Easier read and said than done? Yep. But, in time, when we turn our focus heavenward, and make it a habit to cast our anxieties on the Lord, He’ll give us what our soul desires – and more.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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