Winning the Fight Against Worry

By Liberty McArtor Published on February 1, 2018

I’m the kind of person who will think of everything that could go wrong. Add my overactive imagination, and in minutes, I can have myself in full mourning over something that hasn’t even happened, and probably never will.

I’ve always known that getting carried away like that puts me in a bad mood. But recently, I’ve been thinking more about how such indulgence in my worst fears is actually a sin. So I’ve been working on a couple ways to fight the worry.

What the Bible Tells Us

The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Not just lustful thoughts, uncharitable thoughts or angry thoughts. Thoughts that lead us to worry, as well.

Worry itself is a sin. Jesus tells us not to do it. He says it won’t add a single hour to our lives. In fact, it steals time. It steals time we could have spent in gratitude, enjoying the moment we’re in that God’s given us. Or time we could have spent praying about the future, or making preparations for what may come. (There’s a difference between worry and wisdom — between being anxious for the future and preparing for it. See Proverbs 6:6-8.)

The Bible doesn’t only tell us what not to think about. Through his Word, God gives us a long list of worthy thoughts to dwell on. For example, Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

We’re all familiar with that famous uplifting verse. But do we remember what comes just before it?

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. 

Paul tells readers not to be anxious. He then goes on to tell us what to do — and think about — instead.

Pray With Purpose

If you’re like me, abiding by these directives can be difficult. Here are a couple things I’ve been doing lately in an attempt to keep my thoughts where they need to be.

First, prayer. I know. This is an obvious one. It comes right after “do not be anxious” in the passage above. But making a habit out of praying can be harder than it sounds. In addition to talking to God throughout the day, I’ve started setting aside specific times for concentrated prayer.

For instance, when I go on a mid-morning walk, and when I go to bed. These prayer sessions aren’t long. But I try not to think about or do other things in that time. Walking outside or kneeling by my bed, I unburden my heart of recurring fears that would otherwise plague me. 

Humbly telling God what I’m worried about necessitates admitting that God is the one in control of it all. Why would I ask for his help if he wasn’t in control?

Praying regularly like that reminds me of important truths. First, that I don’t have to carry my worries alone. Second, that God really is in control. Humbly telling God what I’m worried about necessitates admitting that God is the one in control of it all. Why would I ask for his help if he wasn’t in control?

I know he might not answer my prayers in the way I see fit right now. But I also know that he has my best interest, and that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Avoid Temptation

Another way to fight the temptation of worry is to avoid places, people and things that ignite it.

I’m not saying we need to run and hide from our fears. When tough things happen in life, we have to face them head on. But is it hiding for a man to avoid watching certain movies he knows will tempt him to lust? Is it hiding for a believer to avoid social media because they know it will tempt them to make unkind comments? No. That’s just knowing our own weaknesses and avoiding stumbling blocks.

Sometimes God will strengthen us so that what used to be a stumbling block no longer is. Until then, it’s wise to walk the smoother path.

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So does something in particular trigger your worries? Something like watching the news, reading horror stories on the internet, or talking to a certain friend who only has negative things to say, and never offers encouragement? If so, avoid those things for now. Free your mind from the entrapping spiral of worry and despair. Fill it instead with the true, pure, lovely things Paul lists in Philippians 4:8.

Most of all, remember that you are more valuable to the Lord than you know. And no matter what, he’s got you

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

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