How to Overcome Worry and Find Peace in God

How to Overcome Worry and Find Peace in God

The Weight of Worry

According to the World Health Organization, Americans struggle with worry more than any other country on Earth. It's ironic that the world's most prosperous society also happens to be the most worried one. Many of us experience chronic, continuous worry that robs us of peace, joy, and spiritual growth. In fact, research from Barna reveals that approximately 60% of adults in the United States battle worry and stress regularly. If we look around, we'll find a significant portion of people carrying burdens, concerns, and fears, living in a constant state of worry.

πŸ’¬ In this week's article:

  • Define Words β€” It's important to understand the difference between worry, anxiety, and concern.
  • Jesus' take β€” What did Jesus have to say about worry and how does it apply to me today?
  • Practical steps β€” How to move from a worried mind to a mind of peace.
  • The truth β€” There are three realities we must face about our worry.

Understanding Worry vs. Anxiety vs. Concern

Before we delve further into the topic of worry, it's essential to define some terms. While all three are closely related, they have distinct differences.

Worry typically arises from specific concerns or uncertainties about the future.

For instance, imagine a student anxiously awaiting the results of an important exam. They worry about failing, obsessing over the consequences and imagining worst-case scenarios.

Anxiety is a more generalized state of unease or apprehension.

Unlike worry, anxiety can persist and permeate our lives even without a clear reason. Those experiencing anxiety may constantly feel on edge, struggle with sleep, or find it challenging to relax without being able to pinpoint the cause.

Concern is a healthy response that moves us toward action.

For example, concern might prompt us to seek counseling or join a support group if our marriage struggles. Concern can motivate us to make healthier choices if we realize we've gained some weight.

While worry, anxiety, and concern share common ground, they manifest differently in our lives. With these distinctions in mind, let's explore why worry has become such a prevalent issue in our culture.

The Sinful Nature of Worry

Why are so many of us plagued by worry? To put it bluntly, worry stems from our sinful nature. As flawed human beings, we tend to default to fear rather than faith.

I'll prove it: if you find yourself awake at 2:00 a.m., chances are you're not contemplating how to cultivate peace and joy in your life. Instead, you're likely preoccupied with concerns about your children, health problems, job stress, or the care of your parents. Perhaps you're worried about significant global issues like terrorism, wars, racism, or division.

We live in a culture where worry has become normalized, accepted as a natural part of life.

Jesus' Teachings on Worry

Jesus, in His wisdom, understood the human tendency to worry. Throughout the book of Matthew, He repeatedly urges us not to succumb to worry. In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus provides profound and practical guidance regarding worry, and we can draw valuable insights from His words.

Jesus touches on five significant areas that often consume our worries: finances, food, fitness, fashion, and the future.

  1. Finances: Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve both God and money. He encourages us to trust in God's provision and prioritize our relationship with Him over worldly wealth. Instead of worrying about our financial needs, we should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, trusting that He will take care of us.
  2. Food: Jesus points out in Matthew 6:25 that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. He highlights the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, explaining how God provides for them without worry. Jesus assures us that if God takes care of these lesser creatures, He will certainly take care of us, His beloved children. Therefore, we should not worry about our basic needs but trust in God's faithfulness.
  3. Fitness: Jesus emphasizes in Matthew 6:27 that worrying cannot add a single hour to our lives. He challenges us to consider the futility of worry and encourages us to focus on the present moment instead of anxiously dwelling on the future. By entrusting our lives to God's loving care, we can find peace and rest in His sovereignty.
  4. Fashion: Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:28-30 that even Solomon, the richest and most splendid king, was not clothed as beautifully as the lilies of the field. He encourages us not to worry about what we will wear but to trust that God knows our needs and will provide for us. Our worth and identity are not determined by external appearances but by our relationship with God.
  5. The future: Jesus concludes His teaching on worry in Matthew 6:31-34 by urging us not to worry about tomorrow. He assures us that each day has enough trouble of its own and that worrying about the future only distracts us from living fully in the present. Instead, Jesus invites us to seek God's kingdom and righteousness, trusting that He will take care of our future.

Through these teachings, Jesus invites us to shift our focus from worry to faith. He calls us to trust in God's provision, care, and sovereignty over every aspect of our lives. By surrendering our worries to Him, we can find peace that surpasses understanding and experience the freedom to live fully in the present moment.

Practical Steps to Overcome Worry and Find Peace

While understanding Jesus' teachings on worry is crucial, putting them into practice can be challenging. Here are some practical steps that can help us overcome worry and find peace in God:

  1. Acknowledge your worries: Take time to identify the specific worries that burden your heart. Write them down and acknowledge their presence in your life. Awareness is the first step towards finding freedom from worry.
  2. Surrender your worries to God: Pray and release your worries to God. Surrender them to His loving care and trust in His faithfulness. Remember that God is greater than any worry you may have, and He is capable of handling all your concerns.
  3. Seek God's guidance: Spend time in prayer, seeking God's guidance and wisdom. Ask Him to help you discern which worries are valid and require action and which ones are beyond your control. Seek His perspective and trust His guidance in every situation.
  4. Focus on the present moment: Practice mindfulness and focus on the present moment. Worry often stems from dwelling on the past or anxiously anticipating the future. By staying present, you can cultivate gratitude and find peace in the here and now.
  5. Develop a gratitude practice: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by regularly expressing thankfulness to God. Take time each day to reflect on the blessings in your life, both big and small. Gratitude helps shift your focus from worries to the goodness and faithfulness of God.
  6. Stay connected to a supportive community: Surround yourself with a supportive community of family, friends, or a faith community. Share your worries with trusted individuals who can offer encouragement, prayer, and support. Sometimes, talking about your worries can provide perspective and alleviate the burden.
  7. Engage in self-care: Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. This can include exercise, hobbies, spending time in nature, reading uplifting books, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.

Remember that overcoming worry is a process, and it may take time and effort. Lean on God's strength, draw from the teachings of Jesus, and trust in His promise to provide for your needs. With faith, prayer, and practical steps, you can experience greater peace and freedom from worry in your life.

The Thing You Are Most Worried About . . .

#1 May Never Happen

Many of the things we worry about may never actually come to pass. It's important to remember that the concerns that keep us awake at night, weighing heavily on our minds, often never materialize. Research conducted by Penn State showed that 91% of the fears documented by people in a study did not occur in the following 30 days. This means that nine out of ten things people worried about never actually happened. Reflecting on this statistic can bring perspective: less than 10% of what we worry about will actually occur. However, worry can still rob us of 100% of our peace.

#2 May Happen And Won't Be As Bad As You Thought

Even if the feared event does happen, it may not be as catastrophic as we anticipate. We often have a tendency to imagine the worst-case scenario, but the actual outcome is often far less severe. For example, we might worry excessively about a presentation, only to find that it doesn't have significant consequences even if it doesn't go perfectly. Similarly, gathering the courage to ask someone out and receiving a rejection doesn't mean the end of the world. Our minds often exaggerate the negative possibilities.

#3 May Happen And God Will Carry You Through It

Lastly, even if the worst-case scenario does unfold, we can trust that God will carry us through it. He is faithful in providing comfort, strength, and guidance during challenging times. In fact, when we experience difficult situations, we may encounter God's goodness, presence, provision, and peace in ways we never imagined possible.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 states, "But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."

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