"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." – Philippians 4:6,7
I wrote this article the night before my surgery last Friday and there were several things that caused me to be anxious.
First, I was anxious about the outcome of my surgery. Then, I was anxious about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. I was also anxious about the weather because it seemed for a while that South Florida was destined to experience some turbulent weather.
Well, I took some time to read from the Book of Philippians and then I read from my own book, Think on These Things, which was penned just before I retired from the pastorate. I relaxed. I prayed.
I remembered that the author of Philippians was the apostle Paul, who had learned that worry is inconsistent, irrational, illogical, ineffective and irreligious, at least for those who followed the Lord Jesus. I remembered that he wrote his letter to the Philippian congregation while jailed in Rome.
DANGERS OF ANXIETY
What was it that kept Paul from being bitter about his burdens and content even in his confinement in jail? It was his attitude; he had joy. Joy has redeeming qualities, whereas sadness in suffering is sickening. So Paul could emphatically tell us to rejoice, because he learned the secret of joy in a jacked-up and jaded situation.
Paul could also admonish us not to worry. He warns us against the dangers of worry. The word “fret” has the idea of “anxiety.” It refers to a state of mind that is agitated over the events and circumstances of life.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having concern. We all have our concerns about certain things. It is when your concerns have you that the problems begin to arise.
Worry is so dangerous because it allows the mind to conceive false notions about life and about God. Worry says, “God is dead,” or, “If there is a God, He obviously doesn’t care about me and my situation.” Both of those statements are false. God is alive and in control.
As Christians, we are taught through the Word to pray, instead of worrying. Worry strangles you physically and spiritually. Worry will choke the life right out of you. Worry is the interest paid on trouble before it falls due. Worry pulls tomorrow’s cloud over today’s sunshine. Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.
Harry S. Wright, the retired pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., says, “Worry is advanced interest you pay on trouble that never comes.” I say worry erases faith and eliminates trust.
These two very powerful verses above give us some very helpful advice on how to handle life.
First, we have a command to obey: “Don’t fret or worry.”
Second, we have a course to follow: “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”
Then we will have a contentment to experience: “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
Popular TV pastor Dr. David Jeremiah says in his book Slaying the Giants in Your Life, “Don’t dwell on tomorrow’s stress. Don’t dwell on yesterday’s mess. Don’t concentrate on yesterday’s success. Don’t dwell on tomorrow’s distress.”
He then offers six words of wisdom for worriers: “Worry about nothing…pray about everything.”
Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com