A Brief Message to the Worrier

I like church signs. I do. I must admit, however, that most of the time they’re downright corny and make you roll your eyes. Like: “God answers knee mail,” or “Stop, drop, and roll won’t work in hell,” or “Dairy Queen isn’t the only place with great sundaes.”  However, I did see one church sign recently that bothered me a little. It read: “Worry ends where faith begins.” I don’t disagree with the premise. I do believe our faith should override our worry. But I’m not sure this pithy or trite little saying is going to help a lot of people who struggle with worry or anxiety. The issue is much deeper than this. The person struggling with worry is not necessarily someone who is deficient in faith. We must be careful not to send the message that faith is some magic cure-all; that once you get more faith all your troubles will go away. We must also be careful not to suggest that worry or anxiety means you don’t love God enough. The subtle message we often send to the worrier, to the anxious, or to the depressed is: If you just believed harder, you wouldn’t be dealing with these things. My friends, that’s a terrible message to send.

We tend to deal with worry by dealing with the emotion and never digging below the surface. We see the church sign that says, “You’re too blessed to be worried,” or we read in the Bible, “Do not worry,” and we stop right there. It’s a direct command. “Do not worry!”  And someone says, “But I am worried.” The preacher responds, “Well stop it! You’re sinning!” And the worrier ends up even more worried because the Bible says not to worry and they can’t stop worrying.

In order to deal with worry effectively, we must deal with what it’s tethered to. Worry is directly tied to devotion. The things you’re devoted to are the things that will cause you anxiety. Behind the issue of worry is the question, “What are you living for?” What are you pursuing? What are you chasing after? The emotion follows the devotion. Worry is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to examine the things that get more of your attention than God does. Over-worry comes from over-loving something. We need to reveal what it is we over-love so that we can put it in its proper place.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus preaches on the subject of worry and anxiety. The essence of His message is this: When has God ever let you down? Don’t allow your worry for tomorrow to erase God’s faithfulness in the past. You can’t control tomorrow. You’ve never been able to, and you never will be able to. Let God be in control of tomorrow. You be faithful today!

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