Healthy Leaders


The Cause of Worry

Jay TempleJay Temple

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:25-34, ESV).

Jack had been a worrier for years, and it was ruining his life. He went to a psychologist, who recommended a counselor, who sent him to a specialist who could help him. Jack’s friend, Bob, noticed a dramatic change in his personality and asked “What happened? Nothing seems to worry you anymore.”  “I hired a professional worrier and I haven’t had a worry since,” replied Jack.  “That must be expensive,” Bob replied. “It really is. My personal worrier charges $5,000 a month,” Jack told him.  “$5,000!  How in the world can you afford to pay him?” exclaimed Bob.  “I don’t know,” Jack responded, “But that’s for him to worry about now.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own personal worrier? (Maybe some of you already have a family member serving in that capacity). Worry is a joy-robber that I think we all struggle with from time to time, some of us much more than others.

“Do not be anxious…” “Why are you anxious?” Five times in Matthew 6, Jesus raises the issue of anxiety, telling us that we are not to be anxious about what tomorrow holds. I know, easier said than done, especially in times like this.

As good stewards, yes, we should prepare for tomorrow. It is wise to stock up on essentials, provided one does not cross the line into hoarding.  As good Christians, we should share the concerns of others. Now is the time to “be our brother’s keeper,” provided that we do not cross the line into meddling in his business. Worry, though, is not a careful preparation for the future.  It is not a sense of responsibility for others or for tomorrow.  Worry is a disabling preoccupation with things that only God can control.  This kind of worry demonstrates a lack of trust in God.  This kind of anxiety is a rejection of God’s providence (his orchestration of all events and circumstances for His glory and the good of His kingdom).  Ultimately worry can become a desire to sit in the place of God, to usurp His authority, to desire to be the one in control.  Worry can very easily become idolatry, as we seek to replace God with ourselves, or with something else that we believe will provide for our needs and security. The foolish person says, “If I had God’s power, I would change this…and this…and this…” The wise person says, “If I had God’s knowledge, I would not change a thing.”

So where does worry come from? Worry comes from too much participation in the affairs of this world. While it is important to try and stay current with all that is unfolding in the world around us, a steady diet of news (whether Fox, CNN, social media, or any other source) is a recipe for worry. Worry comes from exerting too much energy on non-essential, unimportant, temporal things. Entertainment can provide a nice diversion from the cares of the world, but constant immersion in monotonous, valueless television shows, video games, or internet surfing can ultimately contribute to an unsettled, restless, unsatisfied feeling. Take a small bite of news, have a quick snack of social media, feast on a game or two, and then wash it down with a long, refreshing drink of God’s Word.

The Word of God is a good place to turn, because much of our anxiety is caused by our theology—particularly when we forget it. Worry comes from a lack of confidence in God’s eternity—He is already ahead of you.  He is already there tomorrow, working on your behalf. Worry comes from forgetting the power of God—He is able. Worry comes from failing to realize His presence—He is with you. Worry comes from hesitating to remember His care—He loves you.

Someone said, “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”  God’s Word says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

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Jay Temple