Matthew 6:25-33 records words from Jesus that give us really good reasons why we shouldn’t worry. Worry is unnatural, unhelpful and unnecessary. Worry stems from an inadequate understanding of the character of God; when we realise who he is and what he is like, we will be able to trust him fully.
This is easy to say, and easy to write… not so easy to do! It’s all very well to know that we shouldn’t worry, but how do we stop the worry?!
Paul the apostle was very familiar with all kinds of hardships and needs… so we would do well to listen to his advice on how to respond to situations that worry us. Here is his advice recorded in Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT):
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s break down what Paul was saying and get some “practical handles”:
1. Always be full of joy in the Lord.
We need to remember, and rejoice in, who God is: He is our creator and sustainer. He is our loving Father who adopted us as his children (he’s writing to believers in Jesus). He knows us and our needs initimately. When our Heavenly Father is clearly in our view, things look much better!
2. Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.
We need to stop and think about the needs of others. When we think about their needs, that gets our minds off our problems! And we remember that we are not the only ones with needs!
3. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
As tough as they may be, our trials won’t last forever – and a glorious eternity is ahead! Sometimes we get stuck in the present and lose sight of the “big picture”. Compared with eternity, even our enduring trials are momentary! When our present “gets in our faces”, we need to lift up our gaze to see eternity!
4. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need…
When you find yourself worrying about something, start praying about it! It’s hard to be praying (remembering who you are praying to!) and worrying at the same time. Prayer redirects our thinking to a better train of thought. So prayer is a great tool to “stop the worry”! Even better, if we make a habit of praying for everything, we will find ourselves worrying less!
5. …and thank him for all he has done.
Remembering what God has done for us before builds our faith that he will do what we need him to do now. And thankfulness lifts our spirits, moving us into a positive space! If we make a habit of thanking God for what he has done, we will become far more cheerful people!
6. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
This is the result – this is what we want! So we would be wise to do what he says!
So – instead of worrying:
Remember who God is.
Remember others in need around you.
Remember a glorious eternity is on front of you.
Pray about everything – and pray as soon as you start worrying.
Keep thanking God for what he has already done!
Let’s stop the worry!