Worry is one of the most fundamental human emotions. From the beginning of time people have resorted to worry about what we cannot control. Too much of human history has been damaged by the ugly culprit of worry. If we were not worried about our neighbors or enemies we would never go to war. I believe worry is one of the most effective tools in the enemy’s arsenal. Jesus repeatedly cautions His followers to avoid worry.
In the Sermon on the Mount, His most famous sermon, Jesus specifically warns us not to worry. The New Testament Greek word used is merimnao. This is translated as worry, anxious or take no thought of in English.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
I read this passage and I am very convicted. I worry. Frequently. Daily. I worry about things like: what can I make for dinner, what do I wear tomorrow, how do I regain some of my lost stamina? Jesus said to seek first His kingdom. There have been more mornings where I began with my To Do list and followed it with prayer that God would bless my endeavors. I recognize that this is backward, just as so much of what He taught is counter-intuitive. First I pray. Second I prioritize while considering the Gospels as my filter. For years I have felt the need to triage my agenda, as I learned that I can never accomplish all I wished. Jesus gives us the primary focus in this passage. Seek His kingdom. First serve the needy, the left-out, the lowly. Feed them food and the Word. Love His people. Do not worry about yourself. Trust God to care for you. Do I trust God to care for me? Or, do I seek first to maintain control myself? If I trust God I can take no thought for myself. If I really trust Him I am free to serve. He doesn’t tell me that I will have no trouble. Jesus tells me repeatedly that I will have trouble. Everyday I will have trouble. Trust is bigger than trouble.
Merimnao is used nineteen times in the New Testament. In Matthew’s gospel it is used again in 10:19 when Jesus instructs His disciples not to worry about what they will say when they are brought up on charges before the authorities. “Don’t worry, friends. You will be arrested.” Luke uses this word when Jesus tells Martha that she is distracted by merimnao/worrry about many things, while her sister, Mary has chosen the better part in sitting and listening to Him. Paul uses this word several times in his letters. In Philippians 4:6-7 he writes, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We are called to love and listen. Trust in God’s goodness to triumph in all situations. We all suffer, but worry need not cause us pain. Jesus said that there is enough trouble and pain in each day without our adding to the difficulty. The fact that something so logical and simple is so profoundly complex and difficult is I believe directly tied to our extraordinary difficulty in letting God be God. Human beings instinctively try to maintain control over our own circumstances. Life is a long process of learning to let go of control. If God, who is all goodness, is really in control of my life then I have nothing to worry about. Though trials assail me, He is for me. I do not fear, because He is near. This is why the peace of God is so elusive and hard to maintain. Peace only comes from letting go of control.
Do you struggle with worry? Do you think that worry is a waste of time? If you released control of your life and let God be in charge do you think you would find more peace? What have you learned about letting God be God? How have you grown in your spiritual life by putting God first? Share what you have learned with us, as we all struggle to grow-up into the people God created us to be, people of faith-people of peace.