I’m always amazed that people will spend good money to be frightened. They’ll ride the most radical roller coasters at an amusement park or watch the scariest movies out there.
Another emotion that works in tandem with fear is worry. And there are a lot of things to be worried about in today’s world. Yet some experts say that worry can actually shorten your life. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, said that he never knew anyone who died of overwork, but he knew many who died of worry.
Worry never makes anything better, and for all practical purposes, it makes things worse.
I like the philosophy of our friends Down Under who love to say, “No worries, mate.” For instance, if you ask for directions, they might say, “No worries, mate. You just go right over there.” That’s how we all ought to live.
In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote about what we should do instead of worrying. He said, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).
Here’s something to consider. Paul wrote those words while he was a prisoner in Rome. It would have been one thing if he were lying on a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean, soaking up some rays and sipping an iced tea.
But he wasn’t. Not only was he in prison, but he didn’t know what his fate would be. His desire had been to go to Rome and preach the gospel, but instead he’d been arrested. He didn’t know whether he would be acquitted or beheaded.
Yet Paul could write these inspired words: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”
Paul was saying, “Look, I’m in dire circumstances. If anyone could be miserable, it would be me. But I’m saying don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything.” His contentment came from knowing God.
In the same way, our contentment should come not from the things we have but from the relationship we have with God. That’s because no matter what we’re going through, God never will abandon us. God never will desert us.
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17–18 NLT).
Are these the words of a crazy man? No, they’re the words of a man who knew that God was in control of his life and that God wouldn’t abandon him.
The word oops is not in God’s vocabulary. Isn’t that nice to know? I also know that God’s plans for us are better than our plans for ourselves, because God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, … They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
You might be experiencing tough circumstances today. Know that God is in control. God is sovereign. God knows what he’s doing.
The psalmist wrote, “But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life” (Psalm 42:8 NLT).
Paul knew about singing songs in the night. The Bible tells us in the book of Acts that he and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching the gospel, their back ripped open by a Roman jailer’s whip. At around midnight, with their feet fastened in stocks, they “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening” (16:25 NLT).
When you’re in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time to have a worship service. When you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for test results or in a waiting room when your loved one is having surgery, that is not an easy time to rejoice.
But you don’t rejoice only when you know the outcome; you rejoice ahead of time because you know that God is in control.
Freedom from worry not only requires right praying, but it also requires right thinking. Paul went on to say, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
Maintaining personal peace involves both the heart and the mind. The Bible tells us that God “will keep in perfect peace all who trust in [him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [him]!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).
What we think about ultimately affects what we do. So we want to have our minds set on the things of the Lord.
Every temptation that will hit you always will come in the realm of your mind. Why? Because it’s command central. It’s in our minds that we plan, that we think, that we contemplate. It’s in our minds that we reach to the past through our memories and reach into the future through our imaginations.
So we need to train our minds to think both properly and biblically. Far too often we emote. We just react in the moment.
However, we need to think as the Bible teaches us to think, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV).
Everyone can have lapses of faith. Everyone can have moments of despair. Everyone can experience times when they don’t understand what is going on in their lives. That is when we need to remind ourselves of what the Bible says.
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