How Can I Stop Worrying?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Worry is a funny thing isn’t it? Not funny “ha ha,” but funny weird. You could be sitting on a park bench all by your lonesome with nothing happening–looking calm, cool, and collected–yet worry is flooding your mind like a raging waterfall. It’s impossible to stop worrying 100%, but we can worry a lot less often when we recognize where it comes from: fear. Fear-filled thoughts of the future. We can even worry about something that’s happened in the past, but is not yet complete.
Fear stems from three main things, none of which are from God:
- The power of sin.
- Demonic forces.
- Old, unrenewed thoughts.
I want to go over all three in detail because if we can point out what the root cause of worry is, we can enjoy our lives even during the most strenuous circumstances–because we have nothing to fear. But first, let’s look at Webster’s definition of worry: to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.
Ole’ Webster was on to something, wasn’t he?! Thinking about and feeling fear causes worry! Based on truth or not, thoughts and feelings can’t always be controlled. As a part of our soul, they’re like vapors. Our spirit is anchored in Christ, but our soul–mind, free will, and emotions–can easily flap like a flag in the wind. However, thoughts and feelings that cause worry can be directed and sorted into the proper bins. For this reason, Paul never told the early church, “You better feel different! You better have different thoughts!”
No. He gently advised them what to think about and what to focus on. Why? Because he knew if they would shift their minds onto the truth of Jesus–onto the truth of His grace and what He’s done to them–only then would their thoughts and feelings shift as well. In turn, they’d be less worrisome and anxious, they’d be effective in infecting others with grace, and they’d enjoy their lives despite dire circumstances.
Paul understood that worrying would never change their identity, it would just make them shrink back and be quiet. So he encouraged them into what to think about. Look at this amazing advice:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” (Philippians 4:8)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (See Romans 12:2)
“we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (See 2 Corinthians 10:5)
Thoughts lead to fear. Fear leads to feelings. Feelings lead to worry. Therefore, if we can corral the stuff in our mind with counsel from the Spirit, we can sift through Truth and Lies, Controllable and Not Controllable. Anxiety can then fade away.
When worry hits you, ask yourself a handful of questions to doubt your doubts:
“Has this happened yet? Is it going to? Do I have any control over this right now? Can I change the outcome while still living out my true self as a saint?”
All Christians are saints. Saint simply means holy, or set apart. Set apart from what? Sin. The world. That’s exactly what happened to our spirit the moment we first believed (see John 1:12, 17:16, Ephesians 2:6, Romans 8:9-11, Hebrews 10:10,14).
Certain denominations have twisted this word saint by awarding it to individuals based on votes. Wrong. Every Christian is equally holy. Not by what we do, but by who we are. There’s not a single verse in the New Testament where God, an apostle, or otherwise, awards sainthood to a particular person based on actions and attitudes. Instead, the Bible says we are all part of a royal priesthood! (See 1 Peter 2:9).
Since we have sanctified supernatural DNA as saints (sanctified also means holy), sometimes God wants to teach us the art of doing nothing at all. Personally, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to learn. My old, unrenewed thoughts loved to worry when I wasn’t actively trying to solve a problem. Just like Jesus telling the waves, “Peace! Be still!” my spirit was learning to do the same (see Mark 4:39).
Other times God is coaching us into how to conduct respectful confrontations, and how to establish healthy boundaries. You are not a punching bag. You are valuable. You shouldn’t have to worry about being “less than” because you’re standing up to unacceptable behavior. God wants you to help others but He doesn’t want you to be responsible for them. Just look at the Good Samaritan. He helped the man who was hurt, but still went about his own business. He didn’t stop his trip and coddle the injured fellow, hanging out at the inn, neglecting responsibilities. Not at all. He helped because he wanted to, and then moved forward with his own life (see Luke 10:25-37).
Religious manipulation will teach you the opposite of this. Don’t fall for it. Be confident. Even if you’re stammering, shaking, or stuttering, the Holy Spirit will empower you to stand up to fake spiritual extortion from a church. Not all churches are like this, but some are. Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry. Be you. You are loving, you are respectful, and you are holy. Help if you want. Don’t help if you don’t want. Your identity remains the same.
The ability to discern such things is fueled by God’s grace not by self-made efforts. Remember, we are branches, He is the vine (see John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 12:9). The vine never stresses the branch out or tells it to worry. Nor does the vine ever guilt the branch into producing fruit.
My friend, worry comes from dreading the future. Most of the stuff we worry about in the future, never even happens. But if it does, we know who holds our future, we know who isn’t bound by our human sense of time, Jesus (see 2 Peter 3:8, Revelation 22:13, Deuteronomy 31:8). If we look even deeper into the sovereignty of our Creator, when we rightfully deserve a bad outcome, we can still find rest in our minds and enjoy our lives because we know He is infinitely merciful. Just look at how He blessed Ismael, who was the result of Abraham attempting to rush God (see Genesis 17:20).
If you’ll begin to question the questions of worry in your head, the Holy Spirit will give you the correct answers; answers which will lead you into peace, hope, confidence, and a sound mind! Let’s look at the three things which can attempt to steer our thought life into the ditch:
- The power of sin. Sin is a force on this planet which affects absolutely everything. Like gravity, you can’t see it but it’s still real. Not to be confused with the verbs of sinning, but the original Greek word, which is a noun, hamartia. The power of hamartia was not here when God created this universe. Our original ancestors’ rebellion caused it to enter this physical realm. It is this force which makes everything eventually die. It causes pain, it causes sorrow, and it causes suffering–not God. God is good. Sin is the true culprit of why this planet is fallen. When bad things happen, if humanity would begin blaming sin, rather than our Creator, we’d be on the right track. Sin influences our minds away from the guidance of God’s Spirit. Not us, but our thoughts. This causes extreme worry. Thankfully, as Christians, our spirit is brand new and sealed up in the sin-free realm–heaven–as you read this! Pay attention because this force even attempts to make you think you are sinful, believer. You’re not. You’re just as holy, righteous, and blameless as Jesus Christ! (See Genesis 4:7, Romans 5:12, 6:6-10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 15:21-22, Galatians 2:20, 5:16-23, Ephesians 1:13, 2:6, 1 John 4:17)
- Demonic forces. For years, before I understood the power of sin, I blamed everything on the devil and his demons, especially my worry-filled thoughts. However, demonic forces can’t read brainwaves. They are individual troublemakers who like to work together in a group. They can’t get at God, so they’ll attempt to get at who He loves, which is us. They pay close attention to our lives, noticing our weak spots and attacking them. They study how sin is influencing us–even from the time of our birth–then tempting us with such sinful tendencies. Are they clever? Yes. Hell is well organized, holding board meetings on how to conduct our greatest demise. The good news is, Satan and his army became absolutely powerless at the Cross for all who would ever believe in Jesus! Therefore, their influence in our minds is more of an accusatory flavor; a fear-filled sprinkling on top of our current problems, or, on top of our current peace. When you think and feel worthless, guilty, unrighteous, full of angst, and not good enough–or self-righteous and overly good enough–more than likely it’s coming from the dark realm. But be sure to know it’s all smoke and mirrors. Ignore these dingleberries most of the time. Like an annoying barking dog, you can stomp at their dumb butts–and they’ll scamper off–but don’t give them such satisfaction very often. Stay regal, stay classy, because that’s what you are, saint (see 2 Timothy 1:7, Revelation 12:10, Mark 5:9-10, 1 John 3:8, 5:18, John 8:44, Hebrews 2:14-15, Luke 10:17, Matthew 4:1-11, James 4:7).
- Old, unrenewed thoughts. When our spirit got saved our gray matter didn’t. It will take a lifetime, and then some, of growing in the knowledge of what God has done to our spiritual identity. Amazingly, even though our worrisome mindsets are maturing, our spiritual birth is final! Just the same as our own babies being born from us, we’d never tell them, “You’re no longer my child because you keep messing up!” God would never do such a thing either. But even if we did, that doesn’t mean our child would no longer be our child. Their behavior–holy or not–cannot alter the fact that they have our DNA. Likewise with us and the Father. He knows we are His children and He’s patient with us. Unlike us with our own kids, He will be patient forever because of the New Covenant. Dad keeps no record of our wrongs. He always trusts us and wants the best for us, even when we do dumb stuff. So when our thinking doesn’t match up with our true nature–which is holy like our Father’s–His Spirit continues to counsel us into the truth. Our thoughts will mature over time, becoming more confident the more we learn about our true self! These confident thoughts, led by the Spirit, will teach us how to not worry about things we can’t control, and instead, just trust Father God! (See John 1:12, 3:6-7,16-17, 10:28, 14:26, 2 Peter 1:4, Matthew 7:11, 1 John 3:1, Ephesians 1:5, Romans 5:1, 8:1,28, 12:2, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,11, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 6:16-19, 13:5, 2 Timothy 2:13).
So today, my friends, know this: You can stop worrying so much by thinking about what you’re thinking about. Where is that worry coming from? Is it legit? Even if it is, is God still in control? Does He still love you? Are you still His child?…Yes. He’s still in control. Yes. He still loves you. Yes. You’re still His child…Don’t worry, friend. Trust God and enjoy your life!
A prayer for you: Father, today I want to thank you for the renewing of my mind. I know I’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg, but I’m SO thankful! Keep teaching me more about who I am because of what Christ has done! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this directly to you. Dad, so many of them are struggling with great worries, you know that. Help them begin to sort through their thoughts and feelings with your grace. Dilute their worries. Your grace will cause them to become focused and more courageous! Your grace is sufficient to improve the lives and mindsets of ALL who believe in your Son! Constant worry will be an afterthought when their minds start to match up with your goodness, infinite love, and counseling into WHO they really are–your kids! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!