By Basilea Schlink
Worrying is a problem that most people have. Worries come when we think about the future. Let us consider an example. If a father becomes sick and has not yet provided for his children, worry begins to take hold of him. What will become of the children, if the illness gets worse? Who will take care of them? Or there are threats of war or riots. Or there might be monetary inflation. Then we begin to worry about whether our savings will decrease in value, whether we will have a steady income, or whether we will lose our security.
Or we begin to worry about our children and how they are growing up, especially if they begin to do things of which we do not approve. Or worries may arise due to marital problems. Whether it be in physical or spiritual matters, in public or personal matters--the more variety modern man seems to have, the more variety his worries have.
Because our well-being, and the well-being of our families, is never completely secure for the future, we are never secure from attacks of worry. Usually we feel sorry for ourselves, because we think we have so many things to worry about and they irritate us.
But Jesus says something different about worrying. Jesus says that worrying is the business of the heathen. Worrying grows out an unchristian attitude (Matt. 6:32). Therefore, worrying is a sin. Why? Worrying means that our hearts are not rooted in the Kingdom of God and we do not seek it above all; we do not have God in the centre of our lives. We do not seek the Kingdom of God, because we are not captivated by it. Rather we are captivated by things that are more important to us; a steady income, good health, recognition, well-being of body and soul for ourselves and our families. These are the centre of our thoughts.
But this cannot stay that way. For then God will say that we belong to the heathen, who do not know a living God, and are not His own, His children. If we are influenced by the spirit of worrying, the reason lies in our disbelief, in our discouragement. We worry, because we do not believe that God as a Father will take care of us. But when Scripture tells us about the cowardly and the faithless, it says, "their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev. 21: 8). So at all costs we have to overcome our spirit of worry so that the enemy will not have a right to claim us. Not only for the sake of eternity, but also for the sake of our peace of mind here, we have to be freed. It is not the actual needs and sufferings, but rather worrying that brings sorrow into our lives. That is why we have to get to the bottom of this matter and find out what is the root of our worrying in order to ask how we can overcome it.
The root of worrying is our fear of the cross. Worrying is nourished by the fear that we can lose some of the benefits we possess for body or soul, security or comfort. Then we would have to suffer-and we cannot commit ourselves to this suffering. We want to protect ourselves from the difficult things that lie ahead of us. So our worrying thoughts centre around how we can avoid the difficulties.
In our pride we often think we can master our lives alone, independent of God's help. When we come to the end of our possibilities, our worries, nourished by our fear of suffering, begin to captivate us.
Therefore, the way to begin to overcome this sin of worrying is to commit ourselves to suffering! We must say "Yes" to all the difficult things that are in our hearts. In spirit, we must lay upon the altar of sacrifice everything that we want to hold on to at any cost and say:
Take my life and everything that makes life
worthwhile and precious for me, my health, my
dear ones, my security, my wishes and whatever else
I have and would like to keep for the future! I surrender
my will to You, if You want to take everything
from me. I will not cling to anything any
more, because I trust You, my God and my Father,
and You will take care of me and my family and
give us everything we need in the future. I will only
expect help from You. You will not disappoint me.
Up until now You have always sustained me, and
because You are always the same, You will also sustain
me in difficult times.
If we picture in our minds who our Father is, and declare His wonderful traits, then every worry must yield in the sight of His omnipotence and love. Every time we commit ourselves to suffering, let us say to Him:
God, You are my Father, who has lovingly
thought of all that I, Your child, need. I trust that
You will give me everything I need, especially in
times of trouble. You will take care of me. My
Father, You will sustain me. You will not let me be
tempted beyond my strength. As a Father, You have
prepared a way for me and my family. I trust You!
My Father, You are greater than all troubles which
could possibly come upon me! Your power is
stronger and You will help me!
It is absolutely necessary to arrive at this "Yes, Father" prayer, if we want to be freed from the spirit of worrying. Otherwise it will bring us into misfortune and our "heathen" worries will really materialize. We can see this when we look at the people of Israel in the desert. They are filled with worries that the future would be dreadful and that they would perish in the desert. And then the Lord said, Yes, exactly what Israel declared in its mistrust and worrying spirit would come to pass-and they did perish in the desert (Num. 14: 28ff). But those who trusted God and said that He would sustain them, found that He did sustain them. They did not die in the desert and they could take over the promised land.
Whatever we expect from God will happen! If we are full of worries, we do not expect anything good from God. That is why we will not experience the good things that God has actually planned for us. We are destroying them through our worrying. Worrying is the opposite of trusting the Father. Worrying has to do with unbelief, which has to be overcome at all costs, because it really excludes us from the "promised land" which contains all physical and spiritual wealth and blessings for us.
If it is hard for us to trust in faith, we should begin, as I mentioned, by describing who the Father is and how He will help. And the spirit of worry will be silenced. For the spirit of trust is more powerful than the spirit of worry, which comes from the devil. We must cling to the promise in His word, "Cast all your anxieties upon him, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5: 7). We should then make a prayer out of all our worries by bringing them to our Father, according to the Apostle Paul's exhortation, "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Then we will find "the peace of God, which passes all understanding" (Phil. 4: 6, 7).
But then follows the second piece of advice that Jesus gives us for the battle against the sin of worry; "But seek first his kingdom . . ." (Matt. 6: 33). In the present time, which God has granted as a time of grace, we must live completely for His Kingdom. We must spend ourselves, all our time and energy for His work. We must invest time in prayer and money in His work. If we do this we shall begin to discover what the Lord's promise really means. Now and in the future, whenever trouble may knock on our door, our Father will keep His word, ". .. all these things shall be yours as well" (Matt. 6: 33).
Whoever takes care of Jesus' work and sacrifices time, money and energy for it, will find that the Lord will take care of him. In times of trouble he will experience the miracles and tender loving care of the Father, he will be sustained and receive help for body, soul and spirit in wonderful ways. His Word is Yea and Amen. Therefore, we must act according to His Word and we will receive help. The spirit of worry must yield when we call upon the name of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way we will set up a signpost declaring the omnipotence and goodness of God. His Name will be glorified through people who are comforted and secure, because all their worries have been quieted in Him.