Get Real: Overcoming Worry
Worry consumes, depletes, distracts and defeats. Worry robs our joy. But, we all do it. So how do we overcome the worry and fear that seems to paralyze us? Last week we looked at some of the root causes of worry. Worry is sin. It is unbelief and a lack of trust and confidence in God. Worry is reliance upon self, instead of trusting the Almighty, all-sufficient, all-powerful God, Creator and Sustainer of all things! Today let's look at some practical steps we can take to replace our spirit of worry and find some freedom and peace.
"Worry flows out of a distorted or incomplete view of God's nature and character." (Elyse Fitzpatrick)
Let's remind ourselves of the biblical definition for worry and then look at 1 Peter 5:5-7 for some practical ways we can overcome worry and release ourselves from its bondage and stranglehold:
Anxiety - "merimna"-to be drawn in different directions; to be thoughtful, anxiety about things pertaining to this earthly life.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:5-7
With this passage in mind, I want to share with you some practical ways you can begin to defeat that spirit of worry that is consuming your life and energies. I tend to be a worrier, but over the years I've seen God do some amazing work in my life in this area. These practical steps have been instrumental in helping me. I hope they encourage you.
Worry can so quickly consume and paralyze us, it's like a fire in my life at times. It blazes out of control very quickly and so, like we all learned in elementary school, I find I need to stop, drop and roll to put it out. Well sort of...just go with me on this one.
1. STOP: Tell yourself to STOP!
Stop the distraction that is dividing and disrupting your thought life. When in worry mode, we need to mentally and verbally tell ourselves to STOP. I find it helpful to just tell myself to "Stop It!"and I often do that aloud!
Don't let yourself continue down the spiral. Recognize you are trusting in the flesh/self instead of God. You have elevated your thoughts to a god-like position, trusting in your own strength and abilities. We've got to stop that worry cycle from continuing its downward tailspin. If we don't, it becomes a vortex that sucks us down and paralyzes us. It consumes and depletes our energy and strength. It can make us fearful and anxious over future events that may or may not ever happen. I call these "vain imaginings" (and most of mine, never come to pass!) Worry consumes and depletes our energy and strength. Worry robs us of joy. So let's STOP IT!
2. DROP: Pray! Acknowledge and confess your worry as sin.
1 Peter 5:6 tells us to humble ourselves under God's might hand.
Humble - tapeinoō - to make low; to lower or depress; of one's soul, bring down one's pride, to have a modest opinion of one's self, to behave in an unassuming manner, devoid of all haughtiness.
In humility, we drop to our knees (literally or figuratively), we acknowledge and confess before God that this anxious thought that is consuming us is sin. When we humble ourselves, we assume a posture of surrender. We are no longer trying to control things. We are willing to lower ourselves to a position where we accept God's sovereignty in our lives and trust in His strength, rather than relying on our own. Knowing that He is for us and that He is working to conform us more each day to the image of Christ Jesus.
Humbling ourselves before God will in turn shift our focus, which is exactly what we need! We need focus our gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. THROW: Release the worry. Throw it off. Cast it aside.
1 Peter 5:5 tells us to cast our cares upon him, for he cares for us.
Cast - epiripto- to throw upon, place upon, to give up to.
When that worrying thought assails us, we need to throw it off and give it up to God. This is the time we need to rehearse God's attributes. Remind yourself of who God is. Then, renew your mind with truth. Cast off worry and replace it with the truth of who God is and what He has done. It's helpful to think the worry through, in a productive manner, by asking some questions:
- Is this something I can control or do something about? If so, then what can I do?
- Is this something out of my control? If so, then release it into God's hands and rest in His provision and protection.
- Is this something out of my control, but a situation in which God is calling me to pray for someone and release them into His care?
- What does this worry reveal about my heart? Is this an area where I am not trusting or relying upon God?
I find it helpful to declare God's praises and remind myself of truth from His word by speaking it aloud and praying it back to Him. (You've probably noticed I talk to myself a lot! But hey, it works!)
4. GO: Remind yourself of God's truth and MOVE ON!
1 Peter 5:6 tells us that God will lift us up in due time and5:10 tells us that at the right time, God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us.
Renew your mind with the truths of God's Word. RehearseHis attributes and character. Remind yourself of how you have seen God's faithfulness in the past. Then, Rest in Him!
Don't remain stuck, waiting for worry to hit you again. Move on, go forward, resting and trusting our God, who is the Heart-Knower, Almighty, Faithful, Eternal, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! GO about your day. When that worrisome or anxious thought creeps up again repeat the process beginning with STOP!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
Susan Cady is a Women's Bible Study leader at Warren Baptist Church.
©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com