You are not entitled to your worry

If you have spent even a little bit of time in church, you have probably heard people say things like, “do not be anxious”, “fear not”, and “give all your worries to Jesus, he cares of you”.
The reason these are such repeated phrases among Christians is because the bible talks a lot about it.
Not being anxious and worried is our response to God’s amazing promises to us; that he will never leave us or forsake us, that he looks after us, that he knows what we need and loves us with an everlasting love. Unfortunately it seems like there is a lot of Christians who spend just as much of their time worrying as people who don’t know Jesus. Isn’t that a little bit sad?
I think there are two main reasons that we keep worrying day in and day out, even though we know, deep down, that the bible teaches us not to worry.
The first reason is that a lot of people feel entitled to their worries. They connect their identity to their worries and it becomes an excuse to stay in the cycles of anxious thought.
“I’m a mom, so I worry about my kids.”
“My grandpa has cancer so I’m quite worried.”
“Sickness runs in our family so I’m worried I might get it
These statements serve as an excuse to stay trapped in the joy-less life of worry. They are all worry-worthy causes, but not for someone who claims to believe in the loving and caring promises of the living and Almighty God.
No matter how bad your situation is, it is not a free pass into the realm of worry. You do not belong there. By justifying your worry with the source of your worry you keep yourself trapped.
Other people might think you are crazy if you go through trials without worry, but that’s because you are part of another reality where worry is not welcome. When we walk through something difficult without worrying we are actually a huge testimony to people, who don’t know Jesus yet. By choosing not to worry we show the world that God is worth trusting and that worry is a waste of time. You are not entitled to your worry no matter how hard your circumstances are.
Remind yourself and remind your friends when they tell you what they are worried about. Don’t enable their anxiety by affirming their worry as reasonable. You can show compassion and cry with those who cry, but don’t spur them on to anxiety.
This ties into the second reason why a lot of Christians worry. I think that a lot of people actually don’t believe that it is possible not to. When a situation gets too intense, too grievous or too alarming we throw all conviction away and indulge in our worries. They grow and grow until our minds are so saturated in worry that we can’t quite believe that it is even possible to stop.
“I just can’t turn off my mind,” we say, as if we’re mere victims of our own thought-life. That is not what the bible tells us though.
“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5) A worried thought is not obedient to Christ. It is actually disobedient to the One, who told us not to be anxious.
Last spring when Wesley discovered some issues with his heart I came face to face with this problem. He called me at work and told me, that his doctor was very concerned. This came as a complete surprise to us. I felt the sting of salty tears well up in my eyes.
“Are you going to die?” I whispered into the phone.
“I don’t think so, baby, but remember this; God is the one who has numbered my days. I’m not going to die any sooner than he allows.”
This comment from Wesley opened up a private conversation between myself and the Lord. He showed me my two options in the face of this nasty surprise: I could worry and weep while Wesley went through all the tests and the surgery, or I could walk through the next few months covered in heavenly peace.
It was as if Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You know that place in the bible when I said not to worry? It wasn’t just a suggestion or a sentimental idea. It’s actually possible when you walk through life with me.”
Now, a year after the surgery, I am here to testify that to my utter delight I spent last spring learning that it really is possible to live a worry-free life. A worry-free life does not mean a pain-free life or a life of no trouble. It doesn’t mean that we are to be happy-clappy people who won’t acknowledge the hardships. To live worry free does not mean that we live in denial of the hard and painful things of life. Our choice is what we do with those.
I had days where I’d cry because it was hard to see Wesley go through so many medical tests. The day of his surgery was definitely not an easy day. But by God’s grace I walked through it without much worry at all. I was sad, for sure, but when the scary thoughts filled my mind I knew what to do with them. I didn’t let my mind spin out of control with what if’s and worst case scenario. I did what the bible teaches in Philippians 4:5:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6).
Sadness and hardship is not what’s wrong and a waste of time. Worry is.
We work against God’s best for us when we worry. It takes discipline to reign in your mind, but when you pray instead of worry you receive the promise, “and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
I will testify that it really is possible to quit worrying. I am certainly still learning to make that choice and let God’s grace release my hands, which so badly want to hold on to my worries. I know they are worthless, but my fickle human heart likes them. That’s why God gave us so many reminders not to worry in the bible. He knows we need them often.
I challenge you to stop right now, and take an honest look at yourself. What are you worried about?
Are you telling yourself that it’s okay to worry or perhaps that you don’t know how not to? If you have the Holy Spirit inside of you already have all it takes to not worry. Do it now and save yourself a lot time. Worry is a waste. It produces nothing good for you and you never get that time back. Teach yourself to shift your worry into prayer. Praying actually changes things and it is an eternal time investment that will be rewarded, perhaps both here and in heaven.

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