In today’s world, anxiety is one of the most common problems we face. It often appears in the form of a constant state of worry, which can interfere with a healthy lifestyle. Doctors Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, in their book Biblical Counseling, discuss how worry is the mental exercise of growing distressed and concerned over something anticipated. Tough and unpredictable circumstances cause us to worry by replaying possible outcomes continually until a solution becomes reality. Though worry can propel us into action, it is rarely constructive. This article will examine what worry is, how it can be assessed, what God’s Word has to say, and practical steps to be taken to overcome worry.
Worry is a type of fear that robs us of our trust. Eric Scalise from the American Association of Christian Counselors states, “Worry and anxiety are basically two sides of the same coin.” Worry can bring about an unhealthy level of stress when there is a lack of sleep, productivity, or a perception that life is out of control. Symptoms of worry can include feelings of fear, obsessive thoughts, sleep disturbance, muscle tension and physical weakness, heart palpitations, and poor concentration. If we worry excessively, we become prone to depressed moods, poor self-image, tired eyes, and lack of motivation.Worry is a type of fear that robs us of our trust. Click To Tweet
Though some of us may be more inclined than others to worrying, we must devise a plan to block unnecessary worry. We can fend off the pressure of stress and yet be unaware of the damage it causes us both emotionally and physically. Ask yourself the following questions: What causes me to worry? What symptoms do I feel when I become anxious? How do I handle worrisome thoughts? What do my eating, sleeping, and exercise habits look like? How has worrying helped in the past? Has worry interfered with my ability to handle daily life routines? Worrisome cognitions can be challenged with more healthy, rational thinking because we really do have control over how we handle worrisome thoughts.
Humanity has changed very little since biblical days, and God’s Word has much to say about worry.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”
Matthew 6:34 (NKJV) states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.” Worry clouds perspective, causing people to focus on themselves rather than on God. As believers we know that God will take care of us, but we still work to meet our needs without excessive worry. In Luke 12:22–23 (NKJV), Jesus told His disciples, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” Worry can thwart the work of the kingdom of God because it keeps us focused on the immediate. Though we are responsible to plan and work diligently, we can put our faith and trust in God’s care. Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV) explains that “anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Reading God’s Word and surrounding ourselves with other believers will lift us up.
If you feel you have truly suffered from excessive worry, consider the following practical steps for overcoming anxiety.
- Begin each day with God. Set a time to pray about all that lies ahead in your day. Give Him the opportunity to order your steps in the moment; He knows your inner thoughts and He can bring calm and peace to your mind. Select passages of Scripture that speak to the issues of worry, fear, and anxiety.
- Set boundaries. Realize that you will not please everyone all the time. Learn to say no. Set deadlines to make decisions, rather than ruminating forever. Get facts and expert advice to prevent worrying unrealistically about a situation and seek balance between your thoughts, prayers, and actions in order to live in calm assurance that God is in control.
- Purposely begin thinking and operating differently. Delegate responsibilities. Give yourself permission to relax and to make mistakes. Eat, sleep, and exercise properly. Declutter and organize, using calendars and to-do lists and keep a journal. If a worrisome thought is logical, allow the anxiety to motivate you into action rather than just become debilitated. If the thought is irrational, think about what is present in your life that demonstrates God’s hand over your life. Worry by itself will not change a situation.
- If worry persists, it may be wise to schedule a physical with your medical doctor to ensure the worrying is not a result of something medical or biological.
In conclusion, consider the following adage about worry and anxiety: “Worry is like a rocking chair; it’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere” (author unknown).
(A version of this article was published in Pentecostal Life.)
Chad Flowers |Pastor | Emmanuel Pentecostal Church | Mesquite, Texas, Licensed Professional Counselor