How Not to Worry

worried womanThis past Friday night, Lindsey and I were lounging on the couch together, just hanging out. She, of course, wanted to stay up late. But much as I wanted to continue our time together, I knew it would be better for her to get plenty of sleep.

“You’re going to have to get up early tomorrow,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “That’s why I’m tired.”

“You’re tired in advance?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said again. “It happens.”

Indeed, it does. I, too, have had times where I thought ahead to something that was coming up and got tired just thinking about it. You’ve probably had those times, too.

It’s understandable. The only thing is, we have to be careful about letting tomorrow affect today too much.

Apparently you and I aren’t the first ones ever to do this, because two thousand years ago, Jesus cautioned listeners now to let tomorrow mess up today. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” He said, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).

Why would Jesus tell us not to do something that comes so naturally for us? First, worrying won’t change anything. In the verses just before the one cited above, Jesus illustrates this fact in several ways: We can’t add to our height. We can’t add a day to our lives. We just. Can’t. Do. It.

Not only does worry accomplish nothing, Jesus says, but second, we know that everything we need will be provided. All we need to do, He says, is focus on God and His priorities, and God will take care of the rest. It doesn’t make sense to worry when we know that we’re going to be taken care of.

Third, worrying destroys our peace. It churns us up inside. It’s useless (that was the first reason), it’s pointless (that was the second), and, third, it’s destructive. God doesn’t want us to harm ourselves like that.

So how do we stop worrying (which is often much easier said than done)?

First, let’s realize that Jesus wasn’t saying to stop thinking about tomorrow; He was saying we should stop worrying about it (huge difference).  Thinking about tomorrow is okay; worrying isn’t.

Second, we have to admit that worrying is a choice. It’s not required. Even when we’re facing something potentially difficult, we have a choice as to the perspective we choose to take. We can choose not to let thoughts of what might happen tomorrow ruin what is happening today.

When we find ourselves tempted to worry about the possibilities, let’s choose instead to focus on the fact that today, it isn’t happening. Today, there are things to rejoice in and enjoy. There is life to be lived.

Yes, what happens tomorrow might be awful. But it might not. If it is, then God will meet us there, with His incredible love, comfort, and wisdom. We will be cared for. We will survive.

If it’s not…well, then there was no point in ever worrying about it in the first place.

Matthew 6:34—Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

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