January 16, 1996
A wise person says worrying in your recliner chair is more difficult than singing in your garden on the business end of a spade.
According to my dictionary, worry is mentally gnawing, like a dog worrying a bone. Another definition says worry is “a complete cycle of inefficient thought revolving around a pivot of fear!” Because worry is non-productive, even destructive, maybe worry is like a dog gnawing but the results are more like what happens to the bone!
Most of us do not define worry as “fear” but use softer words. We say, “I am not worried, but I am concerned.” The difference is merely in degree. Besides, not all fear is destructive. Fear keeps us from drinking poison, driving too fast, or walking into a den of snakes. However, fear is a curse when it prevents us from enjoying our family, riding a bus, or walking across the front yard.
Fear also swings its club whenever something new challenges us. Fear threatens failure, ridicule and loss of self-esteem then hits us again on the back-swing suggesting every effort we make to prevent failure will also fail. Fear says we will eventually suffer. Whatever we fear will be the worst thing that ever happens to us.
Perhaps worry is a feeble attempt to control things we cannot control. A family member misses curfew — but does watching the door make him come home sooner?
Worry is folly and although Christians affirm faith and say God has the power to control everything, we still worry. Fear nags with “God will not do anything.” We worry that whatever happens, it will not be the thing we want done.
People with faith can trust God — but faith is not “don’t worry, be happy, shut your eyes to reality.” Faith sees the problems but trusts God because the person with faith knows God. Faith understands that God can use circumstances constructively, even negative circumstances. Romans 8:28 says “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”
The next verse defines God’s purpose. He is in the process of changing me into the image of Christ. It is His intention that I respond to all things in Christlikeness. Instead of gnawing on “inefficient thought” or let it gnaw on me, I have something to do.
For Christians, productive thinking begins with confessing fears and worry to God and telling Him we are sorry for thinking so little of His love and power. As He dissolves those fears into trust, we begin thinking differently about our situations. Our attitudes become more like Christ’s attitudes. We may not always know how to solve every problem but we are at peace instead of wasting energy and time fussing about what to do.
Faith’s productive thinking soon rolls up it sleeves and gets to work. We usually know what to do next. It may not be the solution to our problem but something more simple, like taking pencil and paper in hand to plan or reorganize, or washing a sink full of dishes. Faith uses energy to produce results, not headaches and ulcers.
Philippians 4 explains both our part and God’s part: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
That unfathomable peace produces singing — both in the garden and the recliner chair!