Here’s an excerpt from “I Wish I Hadn’t Spent So Much Of My Life Worrying” which appeared on Startsat60.com:
Nancy is a worrier. When she was younger and still working, worrying did have its little advantages. She would always keep everything under control and in order. But now that she’s 63, she regrets having spent so much time worrying and feels like she’d missed out on life.
“I regret that I worried so much about everything,” admits Nancy who said that if she was given a single “do-over” in life, she would like to have all the time back she spent fretting anxiously about the future.
“My mind was constantly worrying about things that could happen like what if robbers entered the house, what if a car gets out of control and I’m in it’s path, what if I get a terminal illness and become too sick?” said Nancy.
This story fascinates me because Nancy is worried about worrying too much! It’s nuts. Worry will destroy you if you let it. It’s a cancer that will kill your peace. Worry is a merry-go-round that never ends.
Common human condition
Chances are, you’re just like Nancy. It’s a natural part of the common human condition. “Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime. It is an unnecessary barrier to joy and contentment.” There’s a difference between wanting to be responsible, wanting to know how things are going to turn out in the future and worry. Questions about the future are natural, concern for how things will turn out are normal- but you crossed the line and it became unhealthy when you started to worry about the future.
Worry is part of the common human condition because we all fear the unknown. The future is uncertain and uncertainty causes worry. Jesus deals with worry in Luke 12:22. Jesus wants his people to have peace. He knows worry destroys your peace. In the verses that follow Jesus patiently, delicately deals with people about worry. He takes time and gives a couple of illustrations about how worry can consume you. Think about it… he could have just said, “Stop worrying!” and moved on to another topic. The fact that he takes this much time to deal with the subject shows that it’s important to him. It shows that Jesus doesn’t want you to struggle with worry.
The foundation for worry
Worry is based on a desire for control. It’s natural to want to influence how things are going to turn out. There is always an element of unknown in worry. It generally has to do with the future. “What happens if…_____________” will consume your life and destroy your peace if you let it. You can keep asking that question for the rest of your life! It won’t change the future. In fact, that’s exactly what Jesus says about worry in Luke 12:25. Your worry won’t add one second to your life. So your worry won’t change your future. In other words… Worry is worthless!
Worry also carries with it an element of authority. Who really has control over my future? For the follower of Jesus, worry is an assault on his authority and it undermines his character. I like to ask people who struggle with worry, “Is Jesus calling the shots in your life or not? Is Jesus powerful enough to control your future or not?” You see, your worry makes Jesus look bad to others. From an outsider’s perspective, your worry makes it look like Jesus doesn’t care about you or can’t do anything about your current situation.
How to have victory over worry
It’s really easy to sing “don’t worry- be happy” but it’s really, really hard to do! The solution Jesus gives us to worry is trust God! In Luke 12:32, Jesus patiently deals with folks struggling with worry. He reminds us that we are part of God’s flock. God is our Great Shepherd. He personally takes care of his sheep.
Jesus also says in this verse that God takes pleasure in caring for his sheep. Actually God gives his people more than they could ever ask for. We worry about the simple stuff. Like where our food is good to come from tomorrow or if we’ll get laid off during the next round of cuts at work. Jesus reminds us that God has great things in store for our future. In fact, our Father wants to give us access to himself. That’s what Jesus means by using the phrase “the kingdom”. God wants to graciously, generously give himself to his people. When you worry about the future you play the role of God in your own life.
If you want to have victory over worry, enjoy your relationship with God. Trust him for your needs right now. Rest in the fact that he is a gracious and generous Father. Don’t worry about what your future holds, God the Father has your future in the palm of his hand. If you know Jesus, Gods wants to generously give you his kingdom.