Episode 1. Why Worry Won’t Work
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You know some days we head off and we’re determined to have a smooth run. But then this happens and that happens – and before you know it we’re worrying about this and that and every other …
It doesn’t matter how much you worry about something, worrying isn’t going to make any difference to your situation, except of course, by tiring you out. Isn’t it amazing how much energy we pour into something that has no possibility of making a positive difference? Worry. Hmm.
Here we are beginning of another week. Time marches on doesn’t it? Welcome, it’s great that we can get together again today. Now I hope you had a great break over the weekend if you’re one of the many people that have the weekends off.
But you know something, even if we have a couple of days off we don’t always feel restored and there’s a reason for that. It’s because physical rest, stopping work, doesn’t always mean emotional rest. We can be resting our bodies, we can look as though we’re resting but our emotions, our thoughts, can be running at a 100 miles an hour.
We can appear to everyone else to be relaxed on the outside but on the inside we can be on a roller coaster ride. Lots of different things that can happen but one of them, one of them is worry. Worrying is a bigger problem than you may think. And it’s a funny thing, you never hear people talk much about this problem of worrying.
We hear commentaries on stress. People acknowledge stress as being a big problem in life but stress has to be caused by something and one of the things that causes stress is worrying. So, what exactly is worry? What are we doing when we’re worrying? Why do we do it? And what, if anything, can we do about it? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today on the program.
I have a good friend, Graham, who just recently celebrated his 70th birthday. Now you may have heard me talk about him before. Graham and I met when he was a Colonel in the army and I was a Captain. He was my boss. Despite the gap in our ranks and age we kind of hit it off and eventually, together with a couple of other military ties, we left the army and we formed a consulting company in the IT industry.
Now Graham was the senior guy, older, wiser and after all the Colonel. So we made him the head of the company even though we were all shareholders. Now something that Graham did which looking back on it was absolutely pivotal to the success of the company. He used to think a lot. If I had a dollar for every Monday morning when he’d come into the office and say to me, ‘Berni, I’ve been turning such and such an issue over in my mind’, you know what? I’d be rich. He had this knack of thinking things through, difficult things, cash flow problems, people problems, complex issues with projects for clients.
He’d think through them overnight or over the weekend and come up with these brilliant solutions. But even though he did that he wasn’t someone to worry. Thinking things through isn’t worrying, it’s part of it but not all of it. Graham didn’t come to work stressed because he’d been thinking things through. He came to work relaxed because he’d come up with solutions to problems.
No, worrying is something more than thinking things through. Worrying is when we think and think and think and think but with anxiety and unease. Worry is what we do when all that we do is focus on the problem and we imagine and work through and think through all the things that can go wrong. We allow our mind to dwell on the difficulty or the problem and its consequences without ever coming up with the solution. That’s what worry is and it eats away at so many people. Some people worry about everything. You probably know one or two in your life. Absolute worrywarts. Can I tell you? That is a miserable, miserable way to live.
Some of us aren’t quite up there in that league but we still worry a lot. Others worry less but when it hits them it knocks them over. Here’s the thing about worry, firstly it doesn’t make an ounce of difference to the outcome. It causes huge stress and finally it stops us from using our creativity and our abilities to come up with solutions to the problem:
Jesus said, “Who by worrying can add a single hour to their lives?”
The answer is no one. Worrying isn’t about trying to improve the situation so why do we worry? Well, when a curve ball comes at us right out of the blue and hits us in the solar plexus its natural to get a shock. It’s natural to be concerned if there are retrenchments happening here at work, ‘Am I going to be next? What if I lose my job? How will I pay the mortgage?’
That level of initial concern is absolutely natural. Worry though is what happens if that’s where we stop. If we just go round and around and around the problem, if we focus on the problem not with the intention of coming up with a solution but just stuck there, stuck on the problem. Imagining every negative consequence and imagining somehow that all those different bad things that are going to happen all at once, that’s what worrying is. Now it’s a possibility they’ll all happen at once but that’s not what usually happens.
And so here we are stuck in the worry over the problem. Over and over, round and round, all night, all day, all weekend. Every moment it seems, without being able to move on to thinking about some solutions. ‘I might lose my job, money commitments, rent, food, bills, what am I going to do? Worry, worry, worry.’
Instead of taking the time to think, ‘Okay, I better be prepared. I’ll put my resume together. I’ll get that up to date. I’ll start looking around. I’ll see if there are any referees. What jobs are going at the moment? What are the possibilities? Do I maybe want to do something different to what I’ve been doing all these years? How can I minimise the impact on my life if I were to lose my job?’
Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about entering into God’s rest and so many people are so exhausted because they worry all the time. Several times Jesus told His disciples ‘Don’t do that’. Interesting, they had reason to worry but He told them not to. Have a listen to one of those instances. It begins in Matthew chapter 6, verse 25. He said:
Therefore I tell you don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father still feeds them. Aren’t you of more value than them?
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothing? Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil or spin but I tell you not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass which is alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the oven, won’t He much more clothe you, you of little faith? So don’t worry saying ‘what will I eat? What will I drink? What will I wear? It’s the Gentiles who strive for all those things and indeed your heavenly Father already knows that you need those things.
Instead strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well. Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Well, why according to Jesus here shouldn’t we worry? Because God has it all under control. He knows what we need. He knows what’s going on. See people say they believe in Jesus, great. Maybe they believe in Him for eternal life but so many of those same people don’t believe in Him to help and to provide right in the middle of the situation or the circumstance they’re worrying about.
Okay, so here’s a problem. Okay, so I’m shocked initially and concerned about what the consequences might be. Pretty quickly I can stop being immobilised by fear and worry, that’s what happens, we’re immobilised, we’re blocked out from figuring out the solutions. I can stop that and put my faith in this Jesus who said ‘Don’t worry’. I can pray. I can ask Him for help and guidance and time and time again you know what happens? Ideas come, possibilities, our creative juices start to flow or God brings someone else along with an idea or a solution. I can’t tell you the number of times that’s happened to me.