We started a new series yesterday called The Stranglehold Of Worry. The word worry originated with shepherds. When a wild dog or a wolf had killed a sheep by grabbing it by its throat and choking it to death, the shepherds said that sheep had been worried to death.
In modern times, researchers at Purdue University found that worrying can chop 16 years off of someone’s life. Not only does worry rob your life of years, but it can also rob your years of life.
What exactly is worry? Fear is our natural response to real threats, like a car heading toward you in your lane of traffic. Worry is our response to perceived threats (to unseen things), like the car that may head toward your kids’ car when they are driving.
Get this clear: worry is being fearful of the unseen.
Compare that to the Bible’s definition of faith: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Worry and faith both operate in the unseen dimension.
Fear is innate, but worry is learned.
Faith is worry unlearned.
Worry tells your brain a story about bad things that may happen.
Faith tells your brain a story about good things that should happen. Based on what you’ve already experienced of God’s power, what you’ve already seen in God’s provision, or what you already know of God’s promises, your faith in God can help you unlearn your worry.
The prophet Jeremiah tended to be a worrywart. Maybe that’s why he’s been called the “weeping prophet.” But in the middle of his worrying, he unlearns his worry by using his faith to tell a different story about God’s provision, power, and promises:
I well remember [the bad things], and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
Did you notice that Jeremiah talked to himself? He wrote, “I say to myself.” If you have a tendency to worry, it’s time to start talking to yourself and telling yourself a different story. Instead of being fearful of the bad things you cannot see, why not be hopeful of the good things of God you can see?
Let your faith in God help you unlearn your worry. You can overcome worry and anxiety by telling yourself a new faith-filled, hope-oriented story. You can recall God’s faithfulness in the past, and apply it to your current circumstance.
What stories are you telling yourself today? Share with others how you overcame, or are in the process of overcoming worry now. Your faith story will help others overcome and unlearn their worry too.