The Path from Worry to Confident Trust
At some point, you’ve likely had someone tell you not to worry. If only it were that’s simple…
The truth is there will always be something to worry about.
Often, the things we worry about are valid (sickness, financial woes, etc.).
However, when we allow worry to take over our minds and hearts, we suffer in a myriad of ways.
Our physical health suffers, our relationships suffer, and our faith suffers.
Just this past year, Americans collectively worried about a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
According to a Gallup poll, “In 2020, however, the percentages of U.S. adults experiencing significant stress and worry on a daily basis have increased in an unprecedented manner compared with July-August 2019 — with stress rising 14 percentage points to 60% and worry rising 21 points to 59%. […] In practical terms, about 53 million more adults were suffering significant worry on any given day in late March/early April 2020 than were experiencing the same emotion back in July/August.”
We will always have a reason to worry.
But … that doesn’t mean we should give into worry.
David Powlison says, “Worriers act as if they might be able to control the uncontrollable. Central to worry is the illusion that we can control things. […] When we can’t control something, we worry about it.” This may explain why the percentage of Americans suffering significant worry rose so significantly in April 2020. We were dealing with something completely out of our control.
Rather than living life as a mega worrier, discover the beauty of trusting God instead of trying to control the uncontrollable.
To help us see how to take the steps in this direction, we are using David Powlison’s Worry: Pursuing a Better Path to Peace.
Believe the Seven Promises Jesus Makes
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wildflowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Luke 12:22-34
In this passage, Jesus was speaking to people like you and me. He wasn’t speaking to people who had little to worry about.
He was talking to people who worried about the same types of things we worry about (money, health, relationships, etc.).
Powlison says, “Any of those things can hijack the controls of your mind. The fact is, you can’t control any of them.”
So, why do you worry about them?
Ultimately, it is because of something in us, not the thing itself.
Powlison explains, “A worrier is storing ‘treasure’ in the wrong place. If what you most value can be taken away or destroyed, then you set yourself up for anxiety. […] Your treasure is vulnerable. And whenever what is ‘precious’ to you is threatened, you’ll be gripped with fear.”
Fortunately, you have many more reasons NOT to worry.
By learning to focus on the promises of Jesus, you’ll learn how to fixate on what is certain and what is true.
Here are the promises gleaned from the above passage of Scripture:
- There is so much more to who you are than what you have.
It’s easy to worry about food and clothing, but some things matter much more, such as “Who you belong to.”
- God provides for the world.
In this passage, Jesus reminds us that God even takes care of the crows. He has taken care of the world since He created it. We can trust in his abilities to care for us.
- Worry won’t add time to your life.
Worrying does nothing. It doesn’t solve any problems and it doesn’t add anything to your life.
- You’ll be clothed in God’s glory.
In this passage, Jesus talks about the way God clothes the wildflowers. In the same way, we will be clothed in God’s glory. Why worry about the things of this world when what God offers will last for eternity?
- God knows your true needs.
Many people worry about having their needs met, which is understandable. However, our most important need has already been met by God – He sent us a Savior.
- God promises you himself.
Even amid something seemingly worrisome, we can rest in the knowledge that we belong to God, he loves us, and he knows what we need.
- As you give, you will gain freedom.
Worry looks like clenched fists or someone holding on to something too tightly. When we let go of control and trust God, we can open our hands. For example, instead of worrying about money, we give away our possessions.
Take These Steps from Worry to Trust
When worry takes over your daily life and turns into anxiety, there are steps you can take to put you on the pathway to trust.
- Name the pressures.
First, identify the things that tend to cause you to worry.
Powlison explains, “Anxieties feel endless and infinite – but they’re finite and specific.”
- Identify how anxiety appears in your life.
Next, identify how you express anxiety when you feel it. This is different from one person to the next.
Some people get angry, others experience physical symptoms (such as upset stomachs), and some turn to harmful remedies to ease their anxieties.
- Ask yourself why.
Ask yourself why you are anxious. Specifically, ask yourself what it is you fear either losing or never getting.
- Consider the promises of Jesus.
Reflect on the seven promises of Jesus we discussed above. Which one speaks to you the most?
- Cast your cares on him.
Spend time talking to your Heavenly Father.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- Give of yourself.
Open your hands.
Powlison suggests, “In the darkest hole, when life is toughest, there’s always some way to give yourself away. The problem might seem overwhelming. You could worry, worry, worry. But what you’re called to do is just a small thing. There’s always something to give yourself to, and some way to give.”