worry: a thief of joy.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Good question, right? I didn’t think of it. That question is straight from the Bible, right from the mouth of Jesus. As someone who desires to follow Jesus, I try hard to honor those red lettered words he spoke. I can’t tell you how many times this very question from Matthew 6 has gone through my head and pulled me away from the temptation to worry.

Has worrying EVER benefited you? Most likely, the answer is NO. I bet we could all agree, worrying does NOT add time to our lives. In fact, it only brings more stress and fear, which in turn steals life. Maybe not actual minutes, but worry can steal absolutely steal our joy if we let it.

You’re probably thinking-

“Well, great, Shelly- I worry all the time. Thanks for pointing out that I don’t trust God. This post sucks.” HAH! Rest assured, I’m here to give you some encouragement. Don’t worry! ;)

Y’all let me reassure you that I am far from perfect and I am on this journey just as much as you are. But one thing I know for sure is that I can’t let my experiences determine how I interpret God and His word. Meaning, if my experiences and feelings don’t line up with those in scripture, I still believe God’s word more than my own. I submit my experience to his ultimate will and I press in to grow in my faith. Yes, I still experience worry, yes I still get bouts of anxiety- but! I don’t take those things as being my truth. I think about them in light of the word of God and realize I have so much more room to grow and mature. This perspective has been so incredibly powerful for me. When I think about my feelings and let them be what dictates

Why do we worry if we know it isn’t healthy?

I’ve been asking God this question for years now. Do you know what He always whispers in response?

“Trust me, Shelly. You of little FAITH.”

BURN.

Conviction can sure sting sometimes, can’t it? But people, listen to me- an open rebuke or discipline from Almighty God should be seen as one of the most powerful ways in which He loves us. God loves us enough to confront the things that are keeping us from the freedom Jesus died for. When He reminds me that I have little faith, it isn’t because he wants to point out my failures. He is telling me I have access to more faith. It’s an admonishment of hope and of guidance. In showing me my weakness I am then able to press in to his strength. It is such a gift to be disciplined and convicted.

Our worrying is directly connected to our faith.

It is so easy to go about claiming our faith in Christ when life is going the way we’d like it to. But what really tests (and builds) our faith are the struggles we endure. When we trust God as our provider, we worry much less because we know that God will be faithful. God so clearly carries my burdens, gives me what I need and blesses me beyond measure. And yet I still find myself in moments of weakness, worrying. Over the years He has done so much renewing in my mind, but I can honestly say, it’s been a fight. Praise the Lord, by His grace I’ve seen lasting fruit in the area of worry. But trust me- there’s always something I can worry less about. One of the biggest breakthroughs for me around worry was when God revealed to me that I was putting my faith and trust in the wrong hands or in the wrong things. Our homes, relationships, jobs, finances, health... They can all be things we put our trust in. They can all be sources of worry.

What (or who) are we putting our trust in?

Life can be hard, with struggles around every corner. I know many of us are in painful seasons of life right now. You may be battling the biggest storm yet. Personally, I can think of a handful of people that I love that are in the midst of some serious struggles. It can be extremely difficult to have faith when everything in the natural is saying it’s impossible. We’ve been raised in the lie that we need to examine our circumstance and figure it out before we can rest. So what do we do? WE WORRY. Worry sometimes even seems like the right or plausible reaction. It almost seems like a cop out when we have peace, questioning if we care because we aren’t worried. And then, we start striving to fix it. We Google and WebMD every possible outcome. We entertain lies about ourselves or others when relationships seem rocky. We neglect our families and work extra hours to make more money. We lose hope when our jobs or titles are on the line and we shut down or close ourselves off. We lose sight of the promises of God and start believing the lies that come when we worry.

We do that often, don’t we? We trust our experiences instead of leaning into God’s promises. We let life speak louder then truth. If we have something unfortunate happen, or if our circumstances challenge us, we let them overshadow the heart of the Father and His promises.

Romans 5 says,

“1. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

How do we endure well when we are prone to worry? According to the passage above, we STAND in the grace God’s given us and we rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus. Notice the bold words, “obtained access by faith.” Just because we have access doesn’t mean we are always entering in. God has freely given us his grace, which is what moves us into deeper levels of knowing Him. However, we have to walk through the open door. Before Christ, we didn’t have access to the Father. Now? We have complete peace and can live in a loving relationship with him.

FAITH is the way we have that access. SO MUCH rides on our faith. That access, that open door, the grace available to us, is waiting for us. The Kingdom is truly at hand. God basically has an open door policy when it comes to grace. But do we believe Him and have the faith to enter in?

There are so many areas in life that we can grow in faith and access deeper levels of grace.

WORRYING DESTROYS FAITH.

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If we continue to look at our circumstances {without standing in grace and rejoicing in the struggle with hope}, we will worry and our faith will take a hit.

James 1: 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Do you do that? Do you consider it a JOY when life throws you a bunch of lemons? Are you the, “well, let’s make lemonade,” kinda person? Or do you find yourself less joyful and more likely to groan, grumble or complain and WORRY? Naturally, our flesh tells us to worry. Spiritually, God tells us to rest.

If you find yourself battling worry remember this: If you believe in Jesus, that means God chose you. In his infinite love for you He created you with joy and gladness. He intends to create a new life in you. God is not satisfied in leaving you like you are. His intentions are to remove that tendency to worry and to replace it with peace. God will pursue you all the days of your life, here in Earth. He has given you the ultimate gift of love in Jesus, whose blood sacrifice has given you freedom to live in his grace. This news can radically change your life, if you step into it with FAITH. Next time feelings of worry and anxiety sneak up on you, as real and strong as those feelings may seem- I hope and pray you will remember that the truth is YOU CAN HAVE PEACE. In every moment, God’s rest and peace is available to you. I hope you are able to separate the truth from your feelings. I pray the Holy Spirit reminds you that the feelings will pass and that God is ever present, working on your behalf.

I believe each time we endure anxious moments and feelings of worry, we grow more and more in his likeness. Every time we reject the lie of worry, we gain momentum for the next time we face it. If you are a person prone to worry, invite God in to change your perspective. He is so good to meet us where we are. I believe He will meet you in every single minute of worry and will bring you His peace AND JOY as you trust him.


Shelly Jata