I confess. I’m a worrier.
And apparently, I’m not alone. Of the 35.6 billion chapters of the Bible read and 5.6 billion chapters listened to via the YouVersion app last year, Philippians 4:6 was the most shared, highlighted, and bookmarked verse of all.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Sounds easy enough. And yet, I tend to worry.
I’ll never forget our pediatrician’s words when we took our first-born for a check-up. There was nothing wrong. It was just a standard check-up. But my face must have looked like that of an untrained pilot who was forced to take the controls of a plane after the real pilot passed out. The doctor took one glance at me and said, “It’s okay. You’ll stop worrying. In about 50 years.”
Go to God
While it’s unlikely that any of us will ever completely stop worrying, there are some helpful steps we can take in the face of worry (short of dying!), some of which are right there in Philippians 4:6.
Step one? Pray. We’re not bothering God when we come to him about what concerns us. We’re doing exactly what he encourages us to do.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
It’s also interesting to notice how we’re instructed to pray — with thanksgiving.
Shortly after becoming a Christian in my mid-20s, I was taught the ACTS “method” of prayer — adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. There is something about ordering prayers that way that often helps ease whatever I might be worried about.
Go to others
One thing I tend to worry about is our house. (It probably doesn’t help that I think of a house as a ticking time bomb, with any number of really expensive things that could go wrong at any time!) I remember being very stressed about a slow-running faucet in a former home. I envisioned our plumber sending all of his kids to prestigious private universities courtesy of all the money he made re-piping our entire house.
In worrisome situations like that, sometimes we just need the input of someone who knows more about the situation we’re dealing with than we do.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22
Fortunately, a few minutes searching the Internet turned up a simple solution that even I could handle. I just needed to unscrew the aerator at the end of the faucet (who knew faucets had such things?) and give it a thorough cleaning.
Over time, I’ve learned not to get too worked up over strange noises I hear around our house. Instead, I seek wise counsel, whether through the Internet, handy friends and neighbors, or trusted contractors.
When it comes to our kids, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the counsel and example of some very wise parents I know. (Thank you Dick and Sibyl and John and Joan!) While I certainly still pray for our kids' health and safety, I now emphasize prayers for our kids’ boldness, courage, and confidence rooted in knowing that God is walking with them and working through them.
A common concern
Of course, finances are a prime source of worry for many people. Here, too, taking such concerns to God and to trusted counselors can help. At SMI, we strive to serve as helpful counselors for those who follow our strategies.
Every Monday morning, we pray as a team, lifting each others’ concerns to God and asking for his wisdom as we begin each new week.
As you may know, we use the SMI strategies ourselves. Given that, I don’t stress over my family’s investments — and as I’m writing these words, the Dow is down over 400 points! I understand how momentum works, take comfort in knowing the SMI strategies are based on objective, rules-based criteria, and realize that markets move in cycles and even good years are often marked by periods of decline.
Ultimately, I know that none of this — our kids, our home, our investments — really belong to us. I thank God for temporarily entrusting them to us. I ask for his wisdom in how to raise our kids, care for our home, and manage our investments. When worry creeps in, I take God up on his incredible offer to cast my cares on him, and I trust in his promise that when we bring our prayers and petitions to him with thanksgiving, his peace, “which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
How do you deal with worry?