Jeff the Methodist sent me a quote about a week ago that he had heard on Sirius radio. At the time I thought that it could be the seed of a blog post:
Worry. We all do it. We all have it. To one degree or another it shapes what we do, how we react, what we say and how we spend our “mind-time.” It disrupts our peace and can distract us from what we need to be doing. Is it a sin?
I was going to examine that question by looking at what we are promised. We have no guarantees that horrible events won’t happen in our lives. The song which kept running through my head is “I Never Promised you a Rose Garden.” (What is it with me and country music lately?) If we have no assurance of a smooth life, then it seems to me that we have every reason in the world to worry.
Do you remember the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy?” How about “Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King? Do either one of those philosophies eliminate worry? What about when someone says, “Don’t worry about it – it will all work out?” Nope. None of that helps.
So, if we have reason to worry, and just trying to not worry doesn’t help, what is it that we are to do?
I found a Philippians scripture today that applies here. I actually found three scriptures (Matthew 6:31-33, Luke 12:25-26, and Philippians 4:6-7). I like Philippians particularly as a book of the Bible, so I went to it first. I read the NIV version, and didn’t find much comfort. Then I switched to The Message:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.I think that scripture, stated this way, is full of answers to my questions:
- Instead of worrying, pray – There is an inherent, unstated assumption here that God knows we worry. He knows it is a problem, and he’s ready to help with it. This is not a “Don’t worry, be happy,” command.
- Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers… -- He doesn’t say, “Stop worrying.” This scripture gives us a concrete, specific outlet for our worry. This is a constructive path for us to take with what is on our minds.
- letting God know your concerns – Again, an unstated assumption, but it seems to me that this phrase assures us that God cares about our worries. He wants us to tell him what they are.
- Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down – God cares enough to be INVOLVED. He will take the worry and give us back peace and wholeness – before we know it.
- It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life? – Is worry a sin? Perhaps it is when it becomes the center of our lives. Perhaps the sinful aspect of worry is that it can displace God in our hearts and minds.
For me, often, this peace is accompanied by the realization that I am so hugely blessed in life. I am loved extravagantly by God and by the people in my life. I was surprised this morning to find that my favorite two verses in Philippians follow verses 6 and 7, but I shouldn't have been. Herein lies my peace:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9That’s our promise – The God of Peace will be with you.
Image: Somebody's car here at the VA. Don't you think his sun visor makes his car look worried?