There is on record in an early Greek manuscript, the name of a man called Titedios Amerimnos. The first name is a proper name. The second name is made up of the word which means “to worry,” with the Greek letter “Alpha” prefixed to it—which makes the word mean the opposite of what it formerly meant. (For example, putting an “a” in front of “theism,” which is the belief in God, makes it “atheism,” which is the belief that there is no God.) So, it is thought that this man was a pagan Greek who perpetually worried, but who after being saved, stopped worrying. So he was called, “Titedios, the Man Who Never Worries.” Could you write your name and add to it, “the one who never worries”? My guess is that would be a difficult thing to do. Many of us are natural born worriers, worry warts, and filled with anxiety.
But, although we spend much time worrying, it’s really just a waste of time at best, and harmful at worst.
Worry is unhelpful. Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life” (Matthew 6:27). Worry does not change a thing. On the contrary, prayer is what changes things. Don’t waste your time worrying!
Worry is unreasonable. I heard one time that 92% of things we worry about are imaginary. They never happen, or they are out of your control anyway. I don’t know if that statistic is accurate, but I do know that most of what we worry about never happens anyway. So, why waste your time worrying?
Worry is unhealthy. We all know the effects of worry and anxiety on our bodies, minds and spirits. We all know what a tension/stress headache feels like. Some have their stress set up in their muscles. Some have ulcers. Some have panic attacks caused by stress.
Worry is unnatural. Only people are worriers. Jesus said, “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?” (Matthew 6:26).
So, the question is “what do we do about worry?” How do we overcome it?
From Philippians 4:4-8, let me give you four steps to overcoming worry:
1. TRUST GOD
Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Worry literally means that we have a “divided mind.” In worry, we become distracted from trusting God. Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things outside our control. Worry is essentially playing God. It is practical atheism, living as if God did not exist. Let me encourage you to trust God. He is all-powerful. And beyond that, He cares. We are reminded that we should be “casting all your anxieties on him (God), because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
2. TALK TO GOD
“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication…”
We often carry unnecessary burdens…we’re like Atlas with the weight of the world resting on our shoulders. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Talk to God about your worries. Give them to Him. As Martin Luther said, “Pray, and let God worry.” Give your worries to God.
3. THANK GOD
“…with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Being thankful changes our perspective. It reminds us of the blessings of God we have already received. Without thanksgiving, we can feel sorry for ourselves. Without thanksgiving, we tend to overemphasize our problems and de-emphasize God. But with thanksgiving, we are reminded that God does care about us.
4. THINK GOOD THOUGHTS
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
One of the keys to overcoming worry is to focus on the proper things. When we worry, we focus on our problems. We tend to forget God. We should, however, focus on good things rather than worrisome things. Focus on who God is. Focus on the Word of God. Focus on what God has already done for you.
And when you do these four things, the result will be the peace of God. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When you trust God, talk to God, thank God, and think good thoughts, your heart and mind will be guarded by the peace of God. That means that any unhealthy, unnecessary anxious thoughts will not be allowed into your heart and mind! They will be protected. May the peace of God be yours as you cast your worries and anxieties to God!