Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Philippians 4:6
The verse above is one many of us have often heard – and really tried to put into practice. But how often do we try this before we’ve let our worries take root and grow – even bud, maybe even flourish? God can, of course, overcome (and even root out) these worries; He’s bigger than any of our problems, even problems we’ve let get out-of-control. But this process is often painful, and I’d encourage you to not let things get that far. To rely on a cliché: I’d encourage you to nip your worries in the bud. Or better yet, nip them in the roots. Consider how much energy you’d save by letting go of worries as soon as they appear!
And I don’t think we should be flip about this issue: This verse doesn’t make light of our worries the way some people who quote it seem to think it does. This verse doesn’t tell us to forget about our concerns. It doesn’t tell us that our concerns are silly or not worth our time. Instead, it tells us that the God of the Universe is concerned about these things too! So concerned, in fact, that He’s offered to take them upon Himself. To attend to them personally. That, to me, shows that God does care, that He doesn’t take our anxieties lightly. That He doesn’t think we’re silly or weak for worrying.
I don’t think the sin here is worry popping into our heads. Worry is going to pop up in our heads as long as we’re concerned about others. The sin here is holding on to this worry past its initial appearance. Worry popping into our heads isn’t necessarily something we can control; but dwelling on it, rolling it around in our hearts and our heads – that is something we can control.
Our goal, then, needs to be to roll that worry to God as soon as it appears – to begin immediately speaking with Him, instead of ruminating about it on our own. Whether we have any control of the situation or not, we ought to give it to God. In situations when we do have some control, God can show us the best use of that control; He’s the one who knows what we should do, and He can enable us to do it. In situations when we have no control, why not hand things over to God? If we can’t do anything about them, it doesn’t seem smart to hold on to them ourselves.
The important thing, in either case, is immediately taking our worry to God, before it can take root and grow. When we take it to God, our worry doesn’t disappear, and it doesn’t cease to matter – but it is attended to by Someone far more powerful, far better, and far smarter than us. And this stronger, better, and smarter Person actually wants what’s best for us. So, if we’re truly worried about a situation or truly concerned about a person, the only thing that makes sense is to hand the situation or the person over to God. It’s better for the situation or person we’re concerned about (since God can actually help), it’s better for us (since it prevents us from sinning), and it’s better for God (since it frees us up to be used as He wants to use us). Win-win-win.
Consider: What do you find yourself worrying about over and over (maybe even though you’ve tried to hand it over to God)? And how long do you usually worry about something before you try to hand it over to God? I’d encourage you to set a challenge for yourself: How quickly can you present your worries to God? And I’m talking here about actually handing them over – not just casually tossing them at Him: “I’m worried, here you go!” I think such a careless approach often causes our worries to come back since, we haven’t really dealt seriously with them.
Instead, God asks us to have a conversation with Him about our anxieties. A conversation in which several things happen: petition, thanksgiving, presentation (and, of course, listening throughout). This isn’t some kind of “no-worry” spell. God wants to talk with us about our concerns. Tell God why you’re worried. Then try telling Him why you don’t trust Him enough to hand over your worries. I’m not being sarcastic here. Verbalizing doubt can take away some of its power – and it gives God a chance to speak to you about the doubt you present. When you verbalize your doubt, you might be able to hear how silly it is. Or it might not be silly – in which case you might really need to deal with that doubt. Listen for God to speak to you in either case. He’s more than able to handle your doubt; give Him a chance to quiet your heart and help you trust Him more fully.
So, there’s the challenge: How quickly can you start your conversation with God when you start worrying? 5 minutes? 2 minutes? 10 seconds? Post your best time below!
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