Well, we can talk about what worry is as we’ve done previously, but most importantly, how can we deal with it?
III. How to deal with worry. This certainly won’t cover everything about worry, but it will give you some basic principles through which you can address worry in your life.
- First of all, realize that God is the source of all things.
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” [Deuteronomy 8: 10. NIV]
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. . . .” [Deuteronomy 8: 17-18a. NIV]
Health, money, jobs, time, family, etc. If you have a need, turn to the source of the provision.
- Secondly, realize that God is the owner of all things
“[God says,] for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. . . for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” [Psalm 50: 10, 12b]
and you are the steward (or manager) of those things. An example of the concept of manager in biblical times can be found in Luke 12: 42:
“[Jesus] answered, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?’”
We worry about those things that we think we own. However, we don’t own them – God does. A manager or house manager was someone who looked after another person’s house and his possessions. The possessions were not his own. He merely watched over them and took care of them for the owner. This term “manager” or “steward” was also used for a city treasurer. We worry because we have taken ownership of God’s things and are no longer managers of them.
A definition of worry to consider could be: “Worry is taking on responsibilities that God never intended for us to have.” Spiritually – or literally – give up those things you worry about, because you have taken ownership of those things for yourself. Give those objects of your worry back to God. I’m not talking about WILLING to give them up, but dedicate them (give them) back to God. Pray over an item or area in your life – and give it back to him, recognizing God’s ownership. That includes yourself. Then you can better manage those things in your life that are actually God’s.
Do you have a child or family member serving in the Armed Forces overseas? Do you worry about them? Do you worry about a child returning home after work or school? That means you have taken ownership of those members of your family. Who owns your family? God does. Who owns you? God does. So when you pray to God to give back rightful ownership to God that which is already his, give yourself back to God first, then each member of your family. This includes each of your children and your spouse as well. Name them before God. God can certainly take care of them better than you can, because he is everywhere and you’re not.
Let me tell you an incident from my own life to illustrate this. I was ordained at the age of 28. My parents came to my ordination service which was five hours away from where they lived. After the service, my mother came up to me to share something she never told anyone before. She said that when I was born, she prayed that God would use me for whatever he needed. And he did. Thirty years of church leadership, including ten years as pastor of struggling churches. And thirty years in social work, including ten years in social work administration. Yes, many of those years are concurrent as a bi-vocational church leader. Otherwise, I would be ninety years old! Her prayer twenty-eight years before was seen answered in my ordination. God can do what people can’t. Oh, and my name? John – means “God’s gift.” God knows what he is doing, if we will just let him.
This principle of God’s Ownership over all of creation includes, as alluded to above, our finances, our time and our abilities. That is, God gives to us so that we can give to others. Where this fails is that too often God’s people receive from God, then keep it for themselves instead of passing it on to others AS GOD DIRECTS. Reminder: We are managers only, not the owners. God is the owner. God should be the source of guiding us to decide how we use finances, our time and our abilities.
- Finally, trust God, your Heavenly Father, to take care of you and your needs. After all, aren’t you his child and co-heir with Christ if you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
So in conclusion, look for ways that God is PERMITTING adversity to come your way, and see where God’s work is being done through that adversity. Sometimes we have gotten used to looking at the world through blinders of fear and worry, and we miss seeing where God is working in the midst of our insecurities.
Remember the adversity of my ten months of joblessness that I shared at the beginning? Well, it led us to a time of being able to work in a church to help it out in its struggles with power disagreements, its organization and the use of committees, and conflict management. In the midst of all that, we were able to give the struggling church a good dose of encouragement. If I were working at the time, we would not have had that opportunity. While I was not employed, my mother asked me how we were making ends meet. I told her I don’t know – it’s just God. If we tried to put it down on paper or tried to work out a budget, then we would WORRY [don’t misunderstand: a budget is good, but not so much when you are living moment-to-moment financially]. But God provided when we needed it: food, gas and so on. And God kept our family of five healthy during that time as well.
So in concluding the conclusion, if you worry, give yourself to God first of all. Then ask God what it is that you need to give back to his ownership, whether it be family, possessions or finances.
Remember the definition of worry I gave you earlier? “Taking on responsibilities that God never intended for us to have.” Let me give you another, simpler definition of worry:
Worry is shoveling smoke.
Take this verse with you:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time[,] Cast(ing) all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. [I Peter 5: 6-7]