Over the next several posts, we are going to spend time together learning from God's Word how to deal with life. What do we mean? Do we ever worry, fear, struggle with our thought life? Do we ever wonder about the future? Do we feel that some bad habits that control us simply cannot be overcome and we are frustrated?
If we can answer any of these questions, or any others about the "stuff" that we deal with on a daily basis, with a "yes", then what we are going to look at is for you...and me.
So let's begin with a common struggle for many. It is the issue of worry. We may have heard messages, read books and articles on overcoming worry, and yet, here we are, still attempting to not have our lives controlled by this well-known problem.
We live in a world that seems to be spinning out of control. People worry about their future. They worry about health. Their kids. Finances. They worry about things that have not happened, or may never happen, but they think might happen.
Worry eats us up. It controls us and can stop us from being productive for God. It can also affect our relationships. It can damage our health.
As you look into the Scriptures, another word found in the Bible tied to worry is the word "anxiety." In fact, this word is substituted for "worry" in places. The word in the verb usage means "to be troubled with cares."
The noun associated with anxiety gives us a good indication of what worry and anxiety do to us. As used in the Bible in passages such as Mt. 13:22 and 1 Peter 5:7, it means "to be drawn in different directions." It has the idea of distracting us, and we might even say, pulling us apart. It is turmoil in our soul.
As we discuss this struggle, keep in mind that probably most people in the world have concerns about things. Though my children belong to God, there are times that I think about their future, their walks with God, etc., etc. But I cannot allow those things to become negative and controlling in my life.
We must recognize that there is an unhealthy side of thinking about things, and that is when we allow what is happening around us to control us, cause us to worry, or make us apprehensive and faithless.
Before going further, let's bring up a few more questions to help us assess our battle within. Are we struggling with worry today? Do we react in fear and anxiety when things do not go as planned? Do we have things built up in our minds that we are allowing to control us and lead us to worry? If we do, there is help for all of us. I believe God gives us directions for working through this and He can indeed help us get through those times and eventually, I believe, help us to have victory over worry.
In this post, and the next one or two, we will look at some Biblical tips on dealing with this in our lives. Today, we want to look at an event found in the Gospels. It is here that we get our first helpful point of advice on dealing with worry.
The story is found in Mt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25. We read that Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross over to the other side of a lake. As they were journeying, the Lord fell asleep. Before long, a storm came over the lake, and the boat began filling with water. The disciples began to panic, worrying about what was happening.
Before going any farther, what is our take on the response of the disciples? It might be easy to get on them for their lack of faith, for worrying about something while the Son of God was in the boat with them. Would we have reacted any different? Worry happens quickly at times. It also builds up in our minds as we survey situations and circumstances.
In this case, the disciples did what most people would do. They began worrying about what was going to happen, at least in their minds. When Christ awoke, He rebuked the wind and raging waves and there was calm. Then came the Lord's question, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25).
As I have read this story before and thought through other passages of Scripture, I realize that one of the helps for dealing with worry is the belief that as God's children, He is indeed aware of what is happening in our lives, every minute of every day.
Jesus was not going to ignore the disciples. They had seen Him in action, healing people, feeding thousands. They had heard Him teach in the Sermon on the Mount about the problem of worrying (more on that in another post).
Like many of us, the disciples were still struggling with that absolute trust that God was aware of what was happening in their lives. The same is true of us. He knows our every financial struggle, health issue, job situation. Nothing that is happening in our lives is beyond His knowledge.
One of the steps to dealing with worry, is to answer honestly the question, "Where is our faith?" You see, when I get to the point in my relationship with God that I can take to heart the fact that nothing going on is outside of His knowledge, I then can begin to allow Him to teach me other things regarding this issue that I might be struggling with. Though everything we will look at goes hand-in-hand, focusing on Who God is and His involvement in our lives is a good place to start.
So let's begin by taking a look into the mirror of our lives as James 1 encourages us to do and begin, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us, to state in our minds, and even if we need to, in writing or speaking it, begin thanking God for His presence with us through everything that is happening in our lives.
Practice the presence of God. When worry hits, stop and say "thank you Lord" for knowing exactly what is going on. Ask Him to help our struggles, and then begin meditating on the fact that He knows all, and begin thanking Him for the fact that even in the midst of what might be a situation that is leading us to respond in worry, we don't need to because we are learning to trust His involvement in our lives.
In our next posting we will go into more detail about other steps to help us handle the problem of worry.