Before we get to the content of this post, there are a few housekeeping notes I’d like to take care of.
First, the poll that I posted last week is still active and I would love more feedback on what you want to read. This blog isn’t just something to keep me busy – I want to serve you with what I write here. So, if you haven’t given me your thoughts yet, I would love it if you would let me know what kind of thing you want to read from me on this poll.
Second, I’m going to try experimenting a little bit with the time that I publish these posts. This probably won’t affect you very much except for the time that the email comes to you if you follow the blog by email.
Third, and finally, I’m going to be putting together the beginnings of an email list in the near future. Don’t worry – I won’t be sending out any sort of weekly email at this point. It will probably just be the occasional update on writing and various other things. If you have an idea for what you might want to receive from an email list, let me know in the comments. I would love your input and support, so be looking for that email list soon!
On Sunday, the pastor at my church preached a sermon on worry as a start to the new year. A lot of people are thinking about resolutions and where they could be a year from now, but he presented the idea that maybe a Christian’s resolution should be not to worry. He titled the sermon “Don’t Worry; Be Faithful!” and preached from Matthew 6, where Jesus tells of the Father’s providence over all of creation.
Coincidentally, he also wrote a book on humility that I am currently reading called Rediscovering Humility. Now, I promise I am not just trying to advertise for him here, but the sermon and the book got me thinking this week on why I worry.
I came up with a few different answers: I worry because I want things to go well. I worry because I don’t know the details of some event or change. I worry because I am not the one in control. And so on. All of those answers follow a similar pattern. I worry because I have some perceived need. My worry centers around me and my future, which automatically makes my worry the product of pride.
Pride is given many definitions based on who you ask, but the common thread is a focus primarily on self. And if you’ve ever spent some time honestly looking for pride in different areas of your life, you’ve likely seen just how it seems to come out in everything – even the things you don’t think are prideful, like worry.
If I were to make a list of things I’m anxious about at any given moment, it would be longer than anyone would care to read. I know that I am particularly prone to worry and anxiety over practically everything. That has frustrated me for a long time. It’s not fun to always be thinking about what could go wrong or how I could be ruining my entire future. But that frustration stemmed from the (wrong) idea that worry is something that happens to me. Not something I do to myself.
If I recognize worry as pride and self-reliance, suddenly it looks different. I told my dad the other day that the anxiousness isn’t something I can just turn on and off like a switch. And I still think that’s true. It won’t go away so easily. But I’m beginning to think that there are things I can do about it.
So the next question is, how do I get rid of the pride behind the worry? If worry is the symptom, pride is the disease, and it is one that runs deep. I don’t believe there is a step-by-step plan to get rid of pride and live a wonderful life, but there are ways to overcome it biblically. And, wonder of wonders, it is often addressed by the name of “worry” or “anxiety.”
“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 4:5b-7)
This was my favorite verse for a long time and I still often quote it to myself. And with good reason: it says that I do not need to be anxious or worry because God can take care of my concerns and give me His peace in place of my anxiety. All I need to do is release control and surrender it to Him. He will do the rest.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
This passage in Matthew takes the answer to getting rid of the pride of worry a step further. Once I cast my cares on God, I will need a new focus. If I’m not wringing my hands over the new year or an impending project (I just remembered one that I had completely forgotten as I write…), then I need something else to fill my mind. Matthew 6:33 provides that focus: the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
As Rick Warren (not C.S. Lewis) wrote, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” If my mind is full of the things of God, I don’t have space or time to worry. If I am meditating on Scripture and looking for ways to serve my coworkers, I don’t have time to think about all the things that could go wrong this semester.
I know that we can’t snap our fingers or flip a switch to rid ourselves of our anxieties. But we can turn to God more. We can fill our minds with His Word and with prayers. It won’t make the worry instantly vanish, but it will be a much more peaceful way to live this year.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
What is something you’re worried about (and can surrender to God)?