Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Moving From an Anxious Heart to a Trusting Heart

Monroe County

Of all the things I have worried about in my life, I estimate that less than 5% of them have come to pass. I have spent a lot of time worrying about things that come to nothing. 

Worry, anxiety, fear… I’ve experienced them all, as you have too. What sort of person would not worry? One answer is: someone who’s had their brain removed. But then, of course, they wouldn’t be able to enjoy their worry-free life.

How is it possible to have the brains we have and move into greater freedom from worry? The answer Jesus gives is this: a person who trusts, really trusts, in God would not worry. “Trust” and “worry” do not go together. Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 6:25-34. Slow down and re-listen to these words.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


1. We don't need to worry about life’s basic things. Why not? Because if we live our lives trusting in God, God considers us more important than creatures like birds who are provided for.

2. Worrying about something adds nothing to our lives. I’ve read studies that claim worrying subtracts from the days of one’s life. Surely worrying is non-productive. Worry, anxiety, and fear immobilize and lead to non-action. Worrying makes worrisome situations worse. If today you are worried about something, rest assured that “worry” will not make the situation better and, in some cases, will make it worse because of the resultant non-activity.

3. Trusting in God will lead to basic needs being provided. We must distinguish between basic needs, and personal wants and desires. I have found myself, at times, worrying about something that I don’t even really need. This is a true waste of emotional time and energy.

4. Some run after material things as a cure for worry. But acquisition turns out to be worrisome. Richard Foster, in A Celebration of Discipline, argues that the more material things a person has the more things they have to worry about. Here I am reminded of research I’ve read on materialistic cultures and levels of anxiety. Dr. David Augsburger wrote a brilliant study showing how some cultures who have little materially do not have a lexical entry for “anxiety” because the condition seems nonexistent. I have found that when I am thankful for what I have, rather than needing to have more things to be thankful for, I am more at peace in myself.

“Worry” is the tip of an iceberg. Melt off the top and more surfaces. To get rid of the tip, get rid of the entire iceberg. Spiritually, this is our heart. I am asking God to heal my heart that is still too consumed with the cares of this world. Only then can He use me to help others with their cares and concerns. The more self-obsessive I am the less good I am to others.

Here are some things to get help and healing from worry.

- Keep a spiritual journal. Write down your fears and worries, and give them to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”

- Re-read your journal periodically. Remembering how God has been there with you in the past gives real hope for the present.

- Saturate your heart, soul, and mind with God-things. Do not let the media’s disasters fill your heart. A fair portion of media fears never materialize. Remember, e.g., Y2K. I have found that when I make it my first priority to fill heart and mind with God-things I gain an eternal perspective on world-things.

- Separate your real needs from your mere wants. Observe how our American materialistic culture works to create false needs within us that lead to false anxiety over a) either not having such things, or b) over having them and needing to care for them, protect them, store them, worship them, etc.

- Follow Jesus more intently and more intensely. Read Matthew 25 about what Jesus says in regard to helping the poor and needy. Take His words seriously and move towards others. As you begin doing this, you will find that your own cares and worries will dissipate.

Trust God. Trust is not an emotion, but an action. Trust in God and worry cannot coexist in the same human heart.