One of the most common ‘bowling balls’ many of us cling onto is worry. Primarily we worry about things that we cannot control and much of our worrying is irrational concerns or fears.
But we all worry from time to time. Some of us worry about little things and some about big things but we do all worry. Worry is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons. Worry will steal your joy and your happiness and we tend to miss today’s joy because we are worried about yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s unforeseen problems.
Apparently we are all worrying about far too many things that never happen. In fact, several statistical studies show that 40% of what we worry about never happens. That is a lot of time and wasted energy for something that never happens. I read a story about an old man who said on his deathbed that he had had lot of trouble in his life, most of which has never happened.
Worrying about past decisions that we can do nothing about accounts for 30% of what we worry about and 12% of our worry focuses on criticism from others who spoke because they felt inferior. In other words, we spend far too much time worrying about what others think of us.
Our health accounts for 10% of our worrying and evidence suggest that our health worsens the more we worry. The number one killer in the US is heart disease and a large percentage of all deaths are heart related to hypertension, high blood pressure and anxiety. Job 5:2 says ‘To worry yourself to death would be a foolish, senseless thing to do’ but that is exactly what many people do.
Only 8% of what we worry about could be described as being ‘legitimate causes’ for worry. Less than one in ten problems that we ‘worry’ about is a real concern.
Interestingly enough, worrying NEVER affects the final outcome so all the worrying we can do makes no positive difference. We cannot worry a problem away.
Jesus most definitely did not want us to worry. In Mathew 6 he said ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?’ Our worrying is our not trusting God.
Matthew 6 also points out the fruitlessness of worrying: ‘Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ Cleary worrying about your health can only lead to endangering your health and keep in mind that God knew just exactly how long you would live before you were even born. Your worrying won’t change that and it is wasted mental energy.
And Jesus adds one more thought about worry in Matthew 6: ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’. Focus on today. Worrying about tomorrow will make no difference in tomorrow.
I like what someone once said: ‘Ain’t no use putting up your umbrella till it rains’.
Think about the time and energy you spend worrying and then really think about what it is you are worrying about. Does what you are worrying about deserve the energy you spend on it? Likely not. In fact, we spend far too much time fearing what probably won’t happen when it would be wiser to spend that time loving our families, cherishing our friends and really living our lives more abundantly as Jesus promised.
Have you ever known of anyone on their deathbed who wished they had worried more? It is more likely they spend a great deal of time worrying about trouble that never happened.
What can you do to reduce the worry in your life?
Slow down. Our need to hurry is directly connected to our tendency to worry. We might just miss living the abundant life Jesus promised because we are too busy. Slow down and take time to love and serve and enjoy.
Live One Day at a Time. Worry is experiencing the angst of some crisis or event before it happens or whether or not it ever happens. Jesus says in Matthew 6: ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’. Focus on today. Worrying about tomorrow will make no difference in tomorrow.
Focus on the Long Term. If you do as Jesus instructed and focus on heaven you will keep your day-to-day worries in perspective. If you keep ‘first things first’ you will focus on your character, how you treat others and how much time you spent loving your family.
Never Forget God’s Promises. If the bird’s trust God for their food and well being why can’t we learn to trust God’s promises to provide everything we need? Trusting God means coming to the point that we know for certain that He will provide everything you really need. In Proverbs 3:5-6 God says ‘trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.’ When we worry we are calling God a liar and that we don’t believe he can do what he says.
Instead of worrying about what might or might not happen Jesus encourages us to turn our thoughts and efforts in a new direction. Matthew 6:33 says ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Adopting the values of God and carrying him with us to our workplaces and our homes and our hobbies. Those things are what really matter.
A person once said ‘every evening I turn my worries over to God; he’s going to be up all night anyway’. God wants you to stop worrying so much and let him take care of it. Don’t’ spend your precious hours worrying about what might or might not happen; use that time more wisely loving your families, cherishing your friends and living an abundant life. Make a definitive step forward right now to start living that abundant life God promised by dropping the bowling ball of worry.
q Does your worry cause you to lose sleep?
q Does your worry affect your health?
q Did the last thing you worried about ever happen?
q Have you taken your worries to God and let him have them?
q Does your worrying cause strain in any of your relationships?
Is there something you did or did not do in your past so that you now carry around the ‘bowling ball’ of regret? Do you have a list of ‘what ifs’ that you carry around and pull out whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself? One person said ‘When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.’
Living a life full of regret is not living the life God intended for us to live. God intends for us to live a life of joy, peace and hope and we cannot live that life if we suffer from regrets for those times we missed opportunities or lost our temper or lost control. Is there something in your past that you wish you could take back? Do you find yourself thinking ‘if I only knew then what I know now?’
We all have regrets because none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes; we all say dumb things and make bad decisions. But God doesn’t want us living in the past! He would be more than happy to forgive and forget the burdens and regrets we’re carrying around if we would just forgive and forget them ourselves. 1 John 1:9 says that ‘if we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Give God a chance to prove he always keeps his promises.
Quit beating yourself up about your past mistakes. If you have asked for God’s forgiveness he has already promised to cast those burdens as far as the east is from the west and he had already forgotten whatever it was you asked him to forgive. If you keep remembering and beating yourself up, that is not God’s doing; that’s Satan and you cannot allow Satan to have that much power over you.
What should you do with your regrets?
Admit them. Voice your regrets to God and get them off your chest. Take full responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13 says that ‘Whoever conceals his sins will not prosper. But whoever confesses and forsakes them will find mercy’.
Accept God’s forgiveness. If you have asked God for forgiveness then you are forgiven. Believe you are forgiven and do not allow Satan to tell you otherwise. Don’t believe that when something bad does happen that God is punishing you. God says in Jeremiah 31:34 that ‘I will remember your sins no more’. Trust God’s promise and quit using your excuse of ‘I’m not worthy’ to continue to wallow in your regret.
Forgive yourself. We are always harder on ourselves and that is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons against our having a full and abundant life. In Isaiah 43:18 we read ‘Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past’. That’s pretty good advice. We’ve all made mistakes we regret and so we feel paralyzed and can’t move on. But God loves you too deeply to let you stay there.
Get over your past and get on with your life! Walk in the freedom of God’s forgiveness and start living that abundant life Jesus died on the cross for you to live.
q What mistake did you make in your past that you need to confess to God?
q Do you have trouble accepting God’s forgiveness?
q Does your regret mean you need to ask someone’s forgiveness?
q Is your fear of making the same mistake keeping you from living an abundant life?