How To Overcome Worry
HOW TO OVERCOME WORRY
God forbids worry. Jesus our Lord echoed the attitude of God again and again. The Lord Jesus said to His
disciples, and to us, "Take no thought"! The Old English might mislead us in our day. The word literally means to
be worried or anxious. Literally our Lord commanded, "Stop being worried", or "Stop being anxious". Jesus
specifically addressed these words to His disciples. The life He wants us to live is to be free from the cares that
characterizes the world about us.
As usual Our Lord gives us alternatives to worry. In our text there are at least four things we can do in seeking to
overcome worry in our lives. Since anxiety has been demonstrated to be a major problem in our day, and there is
little evidence that Christians have less of it than others, it is time we gave serious consideration to these words
of our Lord.
I. REMEMBER WHO WE ARE
Listen to our Lord as He reasons with us. "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall
eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment."
When anyone gives undue concern to the physical necessities of life, they have forgotten who they are. They
give evi¬dence that would indicate that they think themselves to be strictly a physical being. They have forgotten
that they are a special creation
of God, indeed, the highest creation of God. They are the handiwork of the all wise Creator. They are not just a
stomach in need of physical food, or a body in need of clothing and shelter. If you are one of those being
consumed by anxiety, just ask yourself the question, "Who am I?"
Jesus goes further by pointing to nature. "Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have
storehouse nor barn: and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these." "If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is
cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, 0 ye of little faith?" The raven was considered an unclean
bird, surely not a creature of great beauty, but the Creator God of the universe makes sure that it is fed even
though it does not labor or store like man. The flowers of the field dazzle with beauty. They are clothed in color
and beauty that man can only imitate, but they do not toil or spin. If God meets the needs of these lower forms of
creation, will he not see that the needs of His highest creation, man, is met.
We need to remember who we are. When you feel the pangs of anxiety gripping you, it would be helpful just to
pause and reflect, "I am somebody. God created men. He looks after the rest of his creation faithfully, and He will
look after me." This is the place that you begin in overcoming anxiety.
II. REALIZE THE FUTILITY OF WORRY
In the midst of reminding us that we are somebody special, Jesus re¬minds us that worry is useless and futile.
"And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing
which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?"
Actually modern medical findings have told us that anxiety is not only futile, it is destructive. It is destructive to our
lives and health. It could well be written on more than one tombstone, "Slain by worry." It is a source of high blood
pressure, stomach disorders of various kinds, heart disease, and probably even cancer, the dreaded killer. Dr. S.
I. McMillen has pointed out the harmful effect of worry and anger on the entire system. He makes the observation
that the lion is equipped with a very large and active adrenal gland. The lion lives about thirty years. The
crocodile has an adrenal gland about the size of a pea. The crocodile has a life span of 300 years. Some of you
are slowly destroying your lives by the worry and anxiety which you have cultivated.
Worry is absolutely useless. Jesus points out that worry cannot change anything that needs to be changed.
Scholars are not agreed about the meaning of the statement that Jesus made. Some understand him to be
saying that by worry man cannot lengthen his life even a small span. This is obviously true. In fact, worry will have
the opposite effect of shortening your life. Others take the words to mean that Jesus is saying that worry cannot
add a cubit to your height. A cubit is about eighteen inches. This would be obviously true. How¬ever, it may be
true that worry can add eighteen inches to your waist line. It has for some who compensate for their anxiety by
eating. The point our Lord is making is clear whichever interpretation we give to His words. Worry changes
nothing for good. It is a totally negative force in your life.
The step we need to take in overcoming worry is to realize that it is futile. Just a little thoughtful reflection on what
worry is doing in your life should be a good step toward overcoming it. Are you ready for another step?
III. REMEMBER WHO GOD IS.
Someone said it pointedly, "Worry slanders God." Jesus said it like this, "If then God so clothe the grass, which is
to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?''
Worry is a fail¬ure to really believe in the provisions and care of the Lord. The Creator God has committed
Himself to provide for the basic needs of our lives. Worry says, ''God does ¬not care and will not help me. I am
totally on my own.''
Jesus added, ''And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind, for all
these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.''
We are surely to react to the pressures of life differently since we know the one true and living God. What do we
know about God that would help us to overcome worry?
We need to recognize that God is omniscient. This is a big word that means that God knows all things. He knows
all that can be known about us. Jesus affirmed that ''Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.''
You must recognize that He does know exactly what you need today. He not only knows that you need a new pair
of shoes, he knows that you wear a size 8. He not only knows that you need food, He knows that chicken is your
favorite food and that you really like chocolate ice cream for dessert. He knows!
We need to recognize that God is omnipotent. This is the big word that means that God can do all things. He can
feed every raven and clothe every flower. He is big enough and resourceful enough to create and sustain a
world. Surely it will not tax his ability to meet whatever need you may have.
We need to recognize that God is generous. It is with purpose that Jesus refers to him as ''your Father.'' We can
expect help from him because He is our Father. He knows the generosity that a loving Father has for his children.
He points to the ample way in which He provides in nature to encourage us to believe that He is generous.
When we are worrying, we have forgotten who He is and the kind of person that He is. You may have heard the
lines written by Elizabeth Cheney:
Said the robin to the sparrow, ''I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so!''
Said the sparrow to the robin, ''Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me.''
IV. REVISE OUR PRIORITIES
Worry is a sure sign of a misplaced priority for the Christian. Jesus reminds us that it is a sure sign that we have
the same priority as the unsaved world about us. The ''nations of the world seek after'' something to eat, and
something to drink. They are more concerned with the material and the physical than anything else. Jesus
suggests a better priority for the Christian, ''But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be
added unto you.''
The kingdom of God is the dynamic rule of God. It is to be the first priority of our lives to be under the rule of
God. If we will make this first, then the other things in life will fall into place.
We can seek the rule of God with confidence. Jesus assures us, ''Fear not, little flock; for it is Your Father's good
pleasure to give you the kingdom.'' We are told to seek it because we can be sure God is pleased to give it. It is
the great desire of the heart of God for you to come under the blessed rule of His Son. In this kingdom you can
find love, joy and peace.
When this priority is established in the right way, then material things will fall into their proper place. You will
become available to God to be used to meet human need and to move forward the kingdom of God. You will be
ready to ''sell that ye have, and give alms.'' You will be providing ''bags which wax not old, a treasure in the
heavens that faileth not.''
Would you dare do a little evaluation with me? List the five greatest sources of anxiety in your life? What are
they? Does the rule of God, doing the will of God, being a pleasure to the heart of God appear on the list of five?
If it is not number one, then you need to prayerfully revise the priorities of your life. This must be the deepest and
most abiding concern of man.
Let's review the steps Jesus gave us. First, we must remember who we are. The
worrier has forgotten who he is. Second, we must realize the futility of worry.
Admit that it is worthless. Third, we must recognize who God is. He needs to be
acknowledged as the loving, faithful heavenly Father that He is. Fourth, we must
revise our priorities. The rule of God must be the first concern of our lives.
You can save yourself much discomfort and pain if you will just take the word of Jesus our Lord and live by it.
When will you begin to apply these words to your¬self?