How to Minimize Worry
When I was in high school, I got my driver’s license. Perhaps you did too. And when I got my license, there was one thing I heard again and again. Every time I’d get ready to leave the house, my mom would shout: “Call me when you get there,” which is the last thing any 16-year-old wants to hear from a parent.
“Call me when you get there,” she’d say as I was heading out.
“Call me when you get there,” she’d repeat as the door closed behind me.
“Call me when you get there.”
I’d get so mad whenever she said it. But no matter how much I protested, she didn’t stop. It was like a playlist on repeat.
So one evening, as I was walking towards the door, those familiar words followed after me. And I erupted.
I turned around and said, “Mom, you have GOT to stop saying that. It’s driving me crazy.” And I’ll never forget how she responded. She looked at me, knowing I was so mad, and said, “Tyler, I’m sorry, but I’ll always be your momma.”
Her words were profound. “I’ll always be your momma…”
It was her way of saying, “Because of who I am, I can’t help but be concerned about you.”
“Because I’m your momma, I’m compelled to tell you to call.”
“Because I’m your momma, I think about you when you leave.”
“Because of who I am, I have these concerns.”
And this is how it works, isn’t it?
Because of who we are, there are things that concern us.
Because we’re recent graduates, or because we live on our own. Because we’re in between jobs, or because we just got promoted. Because the test is coming up. Because the rent is almost due. Because we’ve reached a certain age, a certain income, or a certain low point in life.
Because of who we are, there are things that concern us. And that’s not always a bad thing. Some concerns are good concerns. They motivate us to plan for the future, or to cut back on our spending, or to eat like we know we should.
But there are times when our concerns become our worries.
There are times when what concerns us comes to consume us. And when that happens, following Jesus tends to get placed on the back burner. Which is ironic because Jesus had a lot to say about worry.
In fact, one day Jesus told His followers: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”
Imagine how audacious this must have sounded to Jesus’s original audience.
When Jesus spoke these words, food supplies were entirely dependent on how much it rained and whether or not a farmer could protect the crop from pests. A year of drought or a swarm of locusts could mean starvation. You couldn’t drive down the street to the grocery store. There was no safety net. If food ran out, it was over.
Nevertheless, Jesus instructed His disciples not to worry about what they were going to eat or about what they were going to drink or about what they were going to wear.
And here’s why:
Jesus mentions these specific necessities of life—food, water, and clothing—as a way of helping His followers understand that His solution for worry reaches all the way down to their most fundamental concerns. Jesus suggests that He knows a reason not to worry that will bring encouragement and comfort even when what’s most basic seems to be in jeopardy.
And then He makes His point.
“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?”
“Consider the lilies of the field, how the grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?”
Are you following His logic?
Jesus says, do not worry about your life because your Father in heaven cares about you. You’re valuable to Him. If He makes sure the birds are fed and the fields look gorgeous, don’t you think He’ll watch out for you?
Jesus says you don’t need to worry because you’re valuable to God.
This is not to say that God doesn’t care about the Earth He made or the creatures in it. Nor is it to say that we, as responsible stewards of His creation, shouldn’t feel responsible and care for the natural world.
But, it is to say that when God made all that there is—the land and sea, the sky, the birds and fish and animals—He loved everything He formed. In fact, the Genesis account says He called every element of creation “good.” But then, He topped off all of creation with the stamp of His own image. God made humans and called them “very good,” marking us as special and treasured in His created order.
So there stands Jesus, looking at crowds of people just like us—people who are tempted to worry. And Jesus says: Don‘t fret. You’re valuable to your Heavenly Father.
Jesus insists that the key to leaving worry behind is trusting God’s concern for us.
But that isn’t always easy. In fact, most days it feels downright impossible. What makes it so tough?
I can think of three primary ways our trust for God can break down:
First, we can doubt His infinite love for us.
Second, we can doubt His infinite wisdom as it relates to our needs.
Third, we can doubt His ability to act on our behalf.
How does your trust in God get derailed?
Do you doubt God’s infinite love?
Do you believe He doesn’t love you? That maybe He loves all people in a general sense but not you specifically? And not you completely—especially after what you’ve done and where you’ve been. Do you think He loves you a little, or maybe even a lot, but not infinitely? Not enough for you to give Him your complete trust. Is that you? Do you doubt God’s infinite love?
Or Do you doubt God’s infinite wisdom?
Do you question whether He truly knows what’s best for you? Do you wonder if He really knows what you really need? Or do you feel like He knows what’s best for humans broadly, but not what’s best for you right this moment? Do you think He needs a little more input into how to respond best to your situation? Do you doubt God’s infinite wisdom?
Or Do you doubt God’s ability to act?
Do you question His power? Do you feel like He would be doing more to change your circumstances if He could? Do you feel like His hands are tied behind His back? Do you doubt God’s ability to act?
These are three primary ways our trust for God can break down.
How does your trust in God get derailed?
It’s worth knowing the answer to that question. Because knowing precisely how our trust tends to erode can help us focus our trust-building efforts.
If you’re tired of worry ruling your life, and if you’ve realized where your trust in God frequently fails, here’s one final suggestion:
Spend the next week reading and rereading Matthew 6:25-34. Reflect on Jesus’ words.
Jesus says: You’re valuable to God, and God notices what you need.
He says: The God who created and sustains the world thinks you’re the best thing on the planet, and He’s got your best interests in mind.
Remind yourself of this truth again and again and again. And as it sinks in, see if it doesn’t loosen worry’s grip. In the end, it can’t be denied: Because of who we are, there are things that concern us. And those concerns can come to consume us.
But because of who God is—because He’s our loving Heavenly Father—there are things that concern Him.
Our flourishing, our growth, our wholeness, and our relationship with Him number chief among them. So let Him focus His energy on you and your future while you focus your energy and your attention on Him and His care.
I promise, it will change everything.