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When You Worry, Remember God Is at Work

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William Butt

William Butt is a disciple maker located in Northern Virginia. He is a father and husband working to follow Jesus every day. He holds a master’s degree in Christian Ministries from Liberty University. You can find him on Twitter, william_b04

“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25, CSB).

Jesus tells us that if we love Him then we should follow His commands. In the above verse Jesus tells us not to worry. This begs the question then, “If I worry, am I committing a sin?”

It is a very interesting question that all of us can relate to. We worry about so much in today’s fast-paced 5G world. Some of those worries are heavy burdens. For example, where will my next paycheck come from? Or what will happen with my sick relative? Some of those worries we put on ourselves. For example, how many followers on Instagram do I have?

I think it is important that first we deal with the definition of sin before we talk about the worry part. Sin means “missing the mark.” God has given us a target to shoot for and we missed. Sin also turns you away from God and it puts distance between you.

So how does worry become sin?

I will be upfront about this: I am a worrier. I have an anxiety disorder. There are a number of unhealthy ways our brains think about worry or anxiety. My type of worry is called “catastrophizing,” which means I take my worry and magnify it to epic proportions which causes even more worry.

Worry makes us “miss the mark” when we make the focus of our reliance on something other than God. Worry takes our eyes off God and puts them on a problem. Then worry can lead to a spiral effect of negative emotions that confound the problem even more. The enemy wants you to worry because now your focus has shifted from God to yourself or your worry.

Why did Jesus tell us not to worry?

First, because worry messes with our ability to think true thoughts. Worry makes us forget how the heavenly Father is always working. God is always working, and we will see that in a couple of Old Testament stories. Second, because worry messes with our ability to win important battles. Through worry we open ourselves to attacks and temptations in our times of struggle. What we need to focus on instead of worry are the promises of God. God is always working the problem and instead of seeing Him work, we think He is distant.

I led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes and the sandals on your feet did not wear out; you did not eat food or drink wine or beer—so that you might know that I am the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 29:5-6, CSB).

The Exodus story has so many amazing miracles. In my opinion, this ranks high as a miracle because it sustained the people of God over forty years. God led them for forty years and during that time their sandals did not wear out. How amazing is that? I want you to imagine yourself walking for forty years and wearing the same pair of Nikes. This is how amazing our heavenly Father is; He makes sure that all our needs are taken care of.

I’ve been to boot camp and I went to a military college. I have done a ton of ruck marches and, trust me, I have seen what happens when you do not take care of your feet. God was there every step of the way protecting His people every step of the way.

Elijah’s Loneliness

The second story I want to show you comes from Elijah. Listen to Elijah’s complaint to God:

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Armies,” he replied, “but the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they’re looking for me to take my life” (1 Kings 19:14).

The first part of the story shows us the worry and anxiety of Elijah. In this point of the narrative, Elijah has defeated the prophets of Baal in a public contest over which deity had the power over nature. However, now Elijah finds himself on the run for his life and sees himself as the only prophet of the Lord left. He is alone in the world and people are looking to take his life.

In my experience, loneliness can be a pretty big issue to worry about. Have you ever felt alone? Sometimes with social media we can have a lot of “friends” but still have the feeling of being alone. Anxiety and worry can cause isolation. God, however, was working behind the scenes and had news for Elijah. Here is what God told Elijah:

“But I will leave seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18, CSB).

Elijah thought he was all alone in this world and surely he would die soon. God, however, informs Elijah that he is not alone. In fact, there are seven thousand dedicated followers of the Lord that are still in Israel. There can be a loneliness of conviction today, feeling as if you’re alone in wanting to believe, teach, and follow God’s word when it comes to inconvenient biblical teachings. Let God’s reassurance to Elijah remind you that God is at work and you are never alone.

Worry can make us miss the mark when it directs us to put our focus on something that is not God.

It is human nature to worry. It is part of our sin nature because we want to be the hero to fix the issues. Worry can make us miss the mark when it directs us to put our focus on something other than God. The Bible is full of promises that God has fulfilled. This is why daily Bible reading is so important. It keeps you in the promises of God.

I will leave you with how Jesus ended his preaching on worry.

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, CSB).