“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?” – Henry Ford
The year was 1833. A pair of Presbyterian ministers, John Jay Shipherd and Philo P. Stewart signed a covenant to form a Christian perfectionist community in northern Ohio. The settlement was envisioned to bring together the spiritual and physical worlds of its residents through a simple and holy lifestyle. They named the town Oberlin after Jean Frédéric Oberlin, a French minister whom they both admired. At the same time, they founded Oberlin College. Among the early faculty was the renowned Charles G. Finney, an American Presbyterian minister and leader of the Second Great Awakening in the United States. Finney began teaching at Oberlin College in 1835. He served as its second president from 1851 to 1866. The School of Theology at Oberlin was non-denominational and remained in existence until 1966. The board of trustees, believing that the Theology Department had outlived its usefulness on the campus, voted to discontinue graduate instruction in theology at Oberlin in 1965. Part of the Great Apostasy? Perhaps. But we‘ll save that discussion for another time. Fast Forward. Now let me tell you about Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963). He was a respected biblical scholar, prodigious author and Professor of New Testament studies at Oberlin College. Kepler also wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column on religious issues. He published a story about a woman who came to the realization that fears were ruining her life. According to Kepler, she began to keep track of what was worrying her. This is what she found:
- 40% of the things she worried about never happened.
- 30% of the things she worried about already happened (i.e. – it‘s the past, get over it).
- 12% of the things she worried about were the opinions and criticisms of others.
- 10% of the things she worried about were unnecessary health concerns, which actually made her health worse through anxiety.
- 8% of the things she worried about were “reasonable concerns,” since life does have some real challenges to overcome.
“If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”
– Author Unknown
So, if just 8% of her fears were actually reasonable concerns, how legitimate are your “worries”? I‘d say there is a high degree of probability that you‘re wasting a significant amount of time and energy fretting about things that are best left alone. No wonder you‘re so worn-out. Anxiety is zapping your energy. And for what benefit? Habitual and needless worry does not solve problems. And, even “reasonable concerns” are not an excuse for high anxiety. Most likely, your circumstances are not as ominous as you perceive them to be.
Worrying Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing
I will assume that you are familiar with the Bible. The New Testament is a grouping of 27 books. For the Christian, this collection of writings is all about a new arrangement between God and humanity through the mediator Jesus. Most of the books are actually letters (also known as “epistles”). The most prolific contributor to the New Testament was the Apostle Paul. His letters total at least 13 of the 27 books, almost half of the New Testament. In addition to the Christian teachings found in his epistles, Paul often included specific instructions for the congregation to which he wrote. One such letter was addressed to the Christian community living in ancient Philippi. According to The Book of Acts, Philippi was “a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (Acts 16:12). Listen to these words of instruction, 6 ”Don‘t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don‘t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God‘s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Let‘s break that down.
- Don‘t worry about anything.
- Talk to God about everything.
- Let God know your concerns (what you need).
- Thank God for His solutions.
Sounds simple, right? So why do I suspect a possible skeptic or two (hundred)? Because as easy as it may sound, walking it out day by day is not so easy. Every word we just read is the absolute Truth. But it takes faith and patience to live it. Don‘t forget the Payoff. If we incorporate this truth into our lifestyle, Paul said, “7 …you will experience God‘s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God will calm you down. You will find rest when you put your absolute trust in Jesus, the liberator. Now, check out these words of wisdom from the Bible, 4-5 ”If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don‘t ever trust yourself alone. 6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 TLB) Get it? When you put your complete trust in God, there is no reason to worry. Remember, Jesus came to this planet to introduce us to a personal and relevant God – not a Religion. You can talk to God directly about your concerns and ask Him to help you. Put God first and He will make you a success at this thing called life. Worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that you will never get back. Can all the energy you‘ve wasted on anxiety change your grades in school, improve your job performance, solve the budget shortfall or protect you from identity theft and contagious diseases? Has it ever? If you are at least willing to be honest with yourself, the answer is NO. One more thought from the New Testament. Jesus was talking with some of his followers and he said to them, 30 “…You have so little faith! 31 Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?‘ or, ‘What will we drink?‘ or, ‘What will we wear?‘ 32 The people who do not know God are looking for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 First of all… Be right with Him. All these other things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:30b-33 NLV)
Why not surrender all of your worries and fears to God? He cares about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is a great listener. In fact, He is listening right now. Go ahead, Talk to Him… And stop worrying…
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656