Have you ever been going about your day when, out of nowhere, an alien thought comes into your mind with something to worry about? You try to dismiss the thought, but it won’t leave; instead it grows larger and larger. The word “worry” comes from a German word that means “to strangle.” That’s what worry does: it strangles out the joy of life.
This worry not only has a devastating emotional impact, but it also affects us physically. Did you know that during World War II, two million Americans died from cardiovascular disease? Doctors say half of those deaths were attributed to hypertension induced by worry.
Worry affects us spiritually as well. In Luke 8, Jesus told a parable about a sower whose seed fell on four kinds of soil. The seed represented the Word of God, and the soil represented four conditions of the heart. In verse 14, Jesus said, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Our spiritual growth can be choked out by pleasure or money, but at the top of the list is worry.
What’s the antidote to worry? Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Christ’s gift to us is peace no matter our circumstances.
The way we experience this peace—the conduit through which it enters our lives—is faith. Hebrews 11:1 says faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the assurance that God is in control no matter what is happening around us.
When troubling situations arise, we must choose faith over worry.
How can you choose faith over worry in your life? First, repent of known sin. Maybe you have built your life around temporary things, and you need to change where you are putting your affections. Colossians 3:1–2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Or maybe you need to let go of things in your life that you know are displeasing to the Lord. Right now, you can repent and say, “I am not headed in the right direction. Today, I am going to start walking in a new direction.”
Second, remove unnecessary fear. Many of our worries can be alleviated by confronting their source. For example, you may be anxious about not doing something you know you ought to do. Three words can remove a lot of unnecessary worry in your life: Do it now. Do you have a hard phone call to make? Do it now. Do you have a difficult email to send? Do it now. Do you have a challenging task to complete? Do it now. Don’t postpone until tomorrow what should be done today. Removing unnecessary fear also means dealing realistically with your anxiety. In Ephesians 6:14, Paul said, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” If a Roman soldier went into battle with his tunic flowing, an enemy could grab hold of it. So before going into battle, he would tuck the ends of his tunic into his belt. Paul was saying, “Take your loose thoughts, and thoughts based on unrealistic fears, and confront them with the truth of God’s Word.” The truth makes worry evaporate in our lives.
A third way to choose faith is to remember God’s past faithfulness. In Psalm 3:1–2, David expressed his anxiety: “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’” Then notice his change of mind: “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. … I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about” (vv. 3, 6). What caused David’s attitude change? He remembered God’s faithfulness. He knew the same God who delivered him from the lions and bears and from Goliath would take care of him again. Think of milestone events in your life when God intervened, and reflect on His faithfulness to you.
Finally, remain in contact with God. In Philippians 4:6–7, Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Talking to God about what is on your heart and meditating on God’s Word causes worry to flee from your life. And the peace of God is available to you when you choose faith over worry.