Worry comes from focusing on what could happen in the future. We serve a God who is timeless: He already knows the future and has it under control. Jesus is the Prince of Peace: He can give us peace in exchange for our anxieties, but only when we give them to him. I once heard a story that illustrates our reluctance to give God our worries: A man was walking down the road with a heavy bag slung over his shoulder when another man driving a horse-drawn wagon pulled alongside and offered him a lift. He accepted the ride, but when he sat on the bench next to the driver, he kept his bag slung over his shoulder. The driver asked, “Why don’t you put that burden down in the back of the wagon?” but the man replied, “Oh, it was kind enough of you to give me a ride—you don’t have to carry my burden, too.” A silly story, but it illustrates how silly we are when we don’t let God carry our burden of worries.
There are always plenty of things we could be concerned about, but Jesus doesn’t want us to waste our time worrying needlessly. Jesus’s classic teaching about worry is found in his Sermon on the Mount:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matt 6:25–32)
In this text, Jesus basically says Stop worrying, because it is useless! Worrying won’t do anything for you. It can’t add any more time to your life, but it sure can steal precious time from your brief life on Earth. Have you ever worried about something you feared would happen and spent a lot of time and emotional energy worrying about it, only for it to never happen? Worry just isn’t worth it! When I think about all the time and emotional energy I spent between ages 18 and 24 worrying about whether I would ever find a marriage partner, I wish I had it all back. Worrying about things over which we have no control is foolish—and those things are most things. We live under the grand illusion that we actually have control over things, but we don’t. We do, however, have a choice about what to do: We can worry, or we can trust God. Worry is probably the most unproductive thing we humans do. It doesn’t help anything or anyone. It doesn’t make relationships, finances, or jobs any better. It doesn’t make us look any better or feel any better. It doesn’t make us more enjoyable to be around. It can’t stop something bad from happening or make things any better if it does happen. Worry is absolutely useless!
Reflections: What robs your life of peace? List all the things that worry you, then offer this list to God, one item at a time. Whenever worries pop up during the day, stop—and turn them into prayers. Create a short prayer about peace for you to say throughout the day.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you