The Futility of Worry

Pastor Bordwine

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?”

(Luke 12:25)

Late tonight, Lord willing, my wife will board a plane and commence a long trip across the country to visit family. And, as usual, I will worry about her well-being until I hear that she has arrived safely at her destination. A few days later, this pattern will be repeated as my wife returns to Washington. I know, of course, that my anxiety will have no benefit whatsoever as my loved one flies up in the sky at 35,000 feet. But I cannot seem to help it.

To be honest, I worry a lot about many things, particularly those issues that involve my family. I recognize the fact that my anxiety over various things sometimes exceeds what is “normal.” This has been a characteristic that I have wrestled with most of my adult life.

I have long known what the Bible has to say about worry. The Word acknowledges that anxiety is a product of our fallen natures. Rather than chastising us constantly for this fault, however, the Scriptures tell us what to do about it. In many verses, although worded differently, the same exhortation is given to the people of God.

In one of His most well-known teachings, for example, Jesus encouraged His disciples to focus on serving God instead of worrying about what they would wear or eat or drink. (Matt 6:25 ff.) He pointed out that the Father in heaven had loving regard even for the birds of the air. Therefore, Jesus reasoned, His disciples should realize that they are more precious to God than any other being. So if God watches over such small creatures, they should have full confidence that their Father’s love for them is much, much greater. Jesus taught His disciples they could count on the Fathers care for every necessity of life.’

I resort to passages like this when my anxiety level rises. I have to let the sure Word of God overrule my worry, which is, after all, baseless. I don’t control circumstances, God does. I cannot ensure the safety of my wife as she travels by air to the east coast, but God can. Learning this simple truth is vital for a couple reasons. First, it will help to relieve our stress. Second, and most importantly I think, embracing the truth, explained by Jesus, lets us honor God as we should. When we cast our burdens upon the Lord, it is a form of worship because we are confessing by such action that we know that our lives are in His hands and, therefore, we really can be at ease.

The futility of worrying, although a constant consideration for many of us, is revealed in the verse chosen for this devotional: “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” This saying was part of the Savior’s exhortation to His disciples referred to above. His point is that we cannot change anything through worry. All we do is create stress for ourselves, which can have a detrimental impact on our productivity and relationships.

For my part, I’ll continue to react to worry by reviewing the teaching of God’s Word. And I will continue to pray that my sanctification in this area progresses to the point where I am able to dispense with anxiety concerning matters that I cannot control.