Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34 NLT).
Interestingly, the word worry comes from a term that means “strangle” or “choke.” And that’s exactly what worry does. It creates mental and emotional strangulation in your life. Worry doesn’t make things better; it actually makes things worse.
When you worry about the future, you cripple yourself in the present. It’s simply not a productive thing to do.
The apostle Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! . . . 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-5, 7 NKJV).
Paul wrote these words to the believers in Philippi while he was living under house arrest. He’d been arrested for preaching the gospel. But as a Roman citizen, he had the right to appeal to Caesar, and he did. Paul was waiting for an appearance before the leader of Rome, and his future was very uncertain.
He didn’t know whether he would be acquitted or beheaded. In addition, some of the believers were for him, and some were against him. Paul easily could have been stressed out, but instead he was rejoicing and living in great peace.
Now, this doesn’t mean that God expects us to rejoice in whatever happens. For instance, we don’t have to be thankful that we just wrecked the car. But here’s what we can say: “I’m thankful that despite the fact that I wrecked my car, God is still on the throne, and he still loves me.” That’s what it means to rejoice in the Lord, not merely in our circumstances.
In fact, the Bible says that when we have a relationship with God, we’ll experience “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (see Psalm 16:11 NKJV).
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote, “For the happy heart, life is a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15 NLT).
When we worry, it’s actually a failure on our part to trust God. Paul was saying, loosely paraphrased, “Look gang, if anyone can be depressed, it’s me. If anyone can be down, it’s me. If anyone is facing an uncertain future, it’s me. But here’s what I’m telling you: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk said this about facing adversity: “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).
These are the words of someone who knew that God was still in control, someone who knew that God loved him—just as God loves you.
If we were to put Habakkuk’s words into present-day vernacular, we might say, “Even though the economy has tanked and they’re downsizing at work and the insurance rates are up and my car is out of gas, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”
No matter what’s going on, we can rejoice in the Lord. God’s plans for us are still good, and He has promised that He never will leave us or forsake us.
Paul and Silas were imprisoned for preaching the gospel, yet at midnight they sang praises to God. They literally were in a Roman dungeon with their backs torn open by a Roman whip.
The midnight hour isn’t the easiest time to sing praises to God. It also isn’t the easiest time to sing God’s praises when you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for test results, when you’re in the waiting room while your loved one is in surgery, or when you’re experiencing any of the multiple scenarios that can induce worry or panic.
We need to get into the habit of turning to God when we feel worry approaching. We need to develop what we might call a conditioned reflex, which is something we’ve learned to do. For example, remember what it was like when you first learned to drive a car? There were so many things to remember.
When you were coming to a turn, you had to turn your signal on. Then once you made the turn, you had to turn your signal off. But after you had been driving for a while, you didn’t even think about those things anymore. You developed a conditioned reflex.
We can take the same approach to worry. When trouble comes our way, when something scary happens, our first inclination is to worry and maybe even panic. But we need to teach ourselves to pray instead.
The moment you start to panic, turn it into a prayer. Turn your worry into worship. Turn to God immediately. That’s what Paul was saying we should do. Develop this conditioned reflex and put the matter into God’s hands.
It’s the secret of victory over worry.
Learn more about Pastor Greg Laurie.
Get involved in the upcoming cinematic crusade: A Rush of Hope.
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This article was originally published at WND.com
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