A life free from worry. Any takers?
We know we ought to embody Jesus’ teachings to abstain from worrying about tomorrow. Disciples are not to be anxious about life. In fact, in his parable about the Sower, Jesus described the cares of this life as one of those distracting forces that can stifle God’s word within our lives.
Yet, achieving a worry free lifestyle may not be as easy as understanding the goal. How often does expending energy focused upon “I’m not going to worry” only seem to heighten the problem? Fortunately, scripture and research converge suggesting some strategies forward. Here’s one of them.
Paul identified a powerful principle in Galatians 5:16-17. We cannot simultaneously walk in the ways of the Spirit while fulfilling the desires of our flesh. In other words, we can shut down either the Spirit or the flesh by focusing upon the other! Just in case it isn’t already obvious, worrying does not belong to the Spirit!
So what would be an appropriate spiritual focus when tempted to worry? Why do people worry? People worry because they fear a real or imagined impending situation.
Research has revealed that gratitude is the single common denominator among those who passing through extreme crises were able to live with contentment. At some point each of them learned to be grateful for what they had in the moment.
Gratitude intersects and overlaps with several aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Asserting gratitude when we are tempted to worry certainly involves self-control. Gratitude contributes to joy and peace. We are loving and kind to both ourselves and others when we focus upon being grateful, rather than allowing our toxic worry to spill over onto others.
Yes, there can be bills. Yes, our health might be diminishing. Yes, others might have malicious intent. The list goes on.
But rather than allowing what might be or even what will be tomorrow to rob what we have today, what do we have right now that is good? Do we have life and the ability to think clearly? Are we able to see, smell, touch and experience the amazing world God has created? Can we enjoy the taste of food? Did we awake in a comfortable bed or even just a bed? Do we have a vehicle to provide transportation or legs that can take us from place to place? Has God previously answered any of our prayers? Again the list goes on.
Beyond these things, we can always praise God with gratitude for the world he created with wisdom. We can be grateful God has shown us what love, grace and mercy is. We can be grateful for God’s enduring promises that we can trust. And the list goes on.
The next time we are tempted to start imagining how bad things could get, we can choose to stop. We can take a moment to focus upon being grateful for what we have or what is true. We can focus on today by praying for God to provide what we need today. Then, if something is within our power to do, do it – before we return once again to being grateful.
When we are focused upon being grateful, we cannot simultaneously be worrying.