Did you know that for every 60 seconds that you spend worrying you lose one minute of happiness? Never mind the wrinkles, the headaches, the upset tummies. YOU LOSE ONE MINUTE OF HAPPINESS. One minute of joy. One minute of peace that our God has for you.
But is worry actually wrong? To borrow an illustration from the cartoons, if you have an angel (or actually the Holy Spirit) on one shoulder, you know who is hanging around on your other shoulder. Do you think that God has given you the Holy Spirit to tell you to worry about stuff? No. God very specifically tells us not to worry. Worry takes you away from your family, your God, your friends and ruins your physical and spiritual health. Worry moves you away from God, just as much as drunkenness, immorality, and dishonesty do. So yes, it is a sin. A baldface, ugly sin.
Why do we worry then? Why subject ourselves to this? Why do we waste this precious time that we have with something that doesn’t do a bit of good? Because we think it helps. Somewhere, deep down, we think that if we worry about something enough, either a) the excess mental energy that we spend worrying about the problem will somehow flow into that problem and make it go away or that b) God will see that we are really, really serious about that problem and make Him say “Gee, I didn’t realize that it was such a big deal, but since Steph is so worried about it I had better take a look.” It gives us an illusion of power over our problems. But you know what? It is just an illusion. In fact, the more we worry about the problem, the more power the problem has over us.
Think about it. Right now I want you to think about the one problem that has made you worry the most this week, something that is on you mind right now. Ok, how many minutes of peace and happiness have you lost worrying about it? Has your worrying about it actually solved the problem? How much power have you given that problem over you? Has it robbed you of sleep? Has it robbed you of your appetite? Has it made you snap at your kids? Your spouse? Has it made you forget to give Jesus the praise he deserves for what he has done for you? Did worry drive you to praise Him? Did it give you a sunny countenance for others to see? Did anyone come up to you and say “Wow, you look so worried. I would LOVE to be that worried! How can I get the worry you have for myself?”? Did they say “Wow, I wish I had that little faith in God like he does….oh the worrying I could do!”?
No. All worry does is ruin our emotional, mental, physical, relational, and spiritual health. It is not what God wants for us. Listen to what He says in Matthew 6:25-34
Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?
26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?
27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?
28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith?
31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ASV
Think about that for a moment.
O.k. now Philippians 4:6
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God ASV
And what will trusting God get us? Paul tells us in the next verse .
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. ASV
If we trust God with our problems and don’t worry about them, He will give us His peace. Free and clear. That is all we have to do. Just trust him.
I know that you may be thinking: “But I worry by nature.”. Sure you do! By nature we would like smack someone when they get on our nerves. Or run our cars into the rear end of the guy who cuts us off on the interstate. There are a lot of things that we want to do by nature.
But the Bible says we have a choice. We can choose to trust God or not. God doesn’t ask us to do anything that we literally can’t do. You choose. Sometimes it is hard, I am not going to kid you. When your child has a 103 fever, or your job is on the line, it is not easy. But you can choose to trust God and not to worry.
I read about a preacher who decided that he was going to stop worrying. He had seen what worrying had done to his colleagues–burnout, illness, etc–and decided that from that moment on he was not going to worry, but was going to let God take care of things. He even told his deacons that if the church itself was burning to the ground in the middle of the night, as long as everyone was safe, just let him sleep and that they would just start rebuilding in the morning. He knew that God was in control, and I don’t know about you, but that is some of the best news I have heard all day—God is taking care of things.
So you have to ask yourself what you want. Do you want peace? Or do you want worry? Do you want joy, or do you want stress? Do you want the 60 seconds of worry? Or the 1 minute of happiness? It is YOUR call, YOU choose.
Try this experiment: Right now, for one minute, resolve NOT to stress. For one minute (you can time yourself) decide that you will not fret, be anxious, be “OCD”, worry about anything. No “what if’s”. No extra washing of your hands. This might be scary, so you can tell yourself “I can go back to worrying in one minute if I do not like peace.”
You know what you will find? That you had one minute where nothing bad happened.
Then try 15 minutes.
Then 1 hour.
Then 1 day.
Then 2 days, etc
Each time you will see that your worrying did nothing to make any situation better, and that the world did not fall apart when you stopped worrying. All anxiety, OCD, panic , or worrying does is make you ill, it does not protect you, does not save you, does not keep bad things from happening. However, until you prove this to yourself by not being afraid, not fretting, then you will not understand that.
Write down your experiences with this practice in your notebook. Practice being unafraid like you might practice the piano—building up on time that you control your thoughts. It is ok, you will be safe. It is ok to ignore the paper tigers, they will not bite. It is ok to “just this once” only wash your hands once, with regular soap. It is ok to “just for today” not think about a family member getting hurt. It is ok for “just this week” to decide to just enjoy the good weather without thinking about stressful things.
Take a stress vacation. Start with one minute and go from there. Do that now.