Living Without Worry
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Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?—Matthew 6:271
Do you cross rivers before you come to them, dread troubles that never come, expect evil from the Lord instead of good? In other words, is your soul full of unnecessary care? For that is what the word “careful” means—unnecessary care.
“Do not worry” is a plain and simple command, but it is such a difficult one to follow. M. D. Babcock has given a few beneficial suggestions for the person who feels defeated because of the common ailment of worry. “The anxious Christian hurts more than himself; he hurts the faith of those who know him and the good name of his Lord who has promised to supply all his needs.” There is nothing which we cannot pray about. Go deeper into the text: “But in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.” What we can take to God we can trust to God. What we put our fidelity into, He will perfect by His faithfulness. While we work for the best, He works the best for us. We may not succeed as we hoped; we may have discipline we little expected, but the Father knows what His child needs. What God has for us to do we can do, or to bear we can bear. Is there not enough in His ocean to fill our pitcher? With the needs of every day will come His promised supply—“My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Do not forget the words further on in the text: “with thanksgiving.” Be on the lookout for mercies. Blessings brighten when we count them. Out of the determination of the heart the eyes see. If you want to be gloomy, there's gloom enough to keep you glum; if you want to be glad, there's gleam enough to keep you glad. Better lose count in enumerating your blessings than lose your blessings in telling your troubles.
Unbraid the verse into three cords and bind yourself to God with them in trustful, prayerful, thankful bonds—anxious for nothing, prayerful for everything, thankful for anything—“and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”—Thoughts for Every-Day Living2
God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God's hand is stretched out. Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread death, and lament that they have not “dying grace.” Of course, they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in the midst of life's duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then, living grace; then dying grace when they come to die.—J. R. Miller
Do not begin to be anxious.3
Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and others fret and fume terribly. To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the use of worrying? It never made anybody strong, never helped anybody to do God's will, never made a way of escape for anyone out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be useful and beautiful. Restlessness, anxiety, and care are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: “Take no thought,” that is, no anxious thought, “saying what shall we eat or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?” He does not mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about these things. People know you live in the realm of anxious care by the lines on your face, the tones of your voice, the minor key in your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit. Scale the heights of a life abandoned to God; then you will look down on the clouds beneath your feet.—Rev. Darlow Sargeant4
A record of God’s faithfulness in the past combines with hope in a better future for one end: to equip us for the present. As Tolstoy said, we have control over no other time. The past is unchangeable, the future unpredictable. I can only live the life directly before me. Faithful Christians pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and then proceed to enact God’s will—love, justice, peace, mercy, forgiveness—in the present, on earth.
If I reflect on my entire spiritual pilgrimage at once, I usually end up nostalgic for those times when God seemed so much closer. Faith, I have found, is not something I settle into, a skill I learn to master. It comes as a gift from God, and I need to pray for it every day, as I pray for daily bread. A friend of mine, paralyzed in an accident, traces her turning point in faith to this very principle. She could not face a life of total paralysis; she could, however, face one day at a time, with God’s help. The Bible contains 365 commands to “fear not”—the most reiterated command in the Bible—as if to remind us daily that we will face difficulties that might naturally provoke fear.
“There is no fear in love,” writes the apostle John, “but perfect love drives out fear….” He goes on to point to the source of that perfect love: “We love because he first loved us.” In other words, the cure to fear is not a change in circumstances, rather a deep grounding in the love of God. I ask God to reveal his love to me directly, or through my relationships with those who also know him—a prayer I think God takes great delight in answering.—Philip Yancey5
When a guide leads you down a path that’s new to you, he doesn’t tell you what you’re going to need to do before you get to the turn or the fork in the way. He waits till you get to the point where you need to know before he tells you what to do or where to go next—and that’s the way it is with the Lord. In most cases, you don’t need to know all the details of what you’re going to do tomorrow. Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow. You often have to plan ahead, but you’re not to worry about tomorrow. Just do what God knows you can do and what God asks you to do today, and be prepared to do the same tomorrow.—David Brandt Berg6
Published on Anchor March 2014. Read by Jon Marc. Music by Michael Dooley.
2 Streams in the Desert, Volume 2 (Zondervan, 1977).
3 Philippians 4:6 PBV.
4 Streams in the Desert, Volume 1 (Zondervan, 1965).
5 Reaching for the Invisible God (Zondervan, 2000).
6 More Than Conquerors. A Mountain Streams book (Aurora Production, 2002).
- Living in God’s Word
- God’s Healing Balm in Times of Grief
- Hurry and Worry
- One Thing Before All Things
- Faith Like Gold
- Learning About God’s Mercy
- Trusting Through the Silence
- A Life Well Lived, Today and for the Future
- How God Gave Me a Home
- Setting Our Affections on Things Above