When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions.
~Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Sc.5
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33, NIV
(All scripture references are HCSB, unless otherwise noted.)
I've noticed that when things go wrong, especially the things I really like to worry about, they come in bunches. Trouble never seems to come in an easy-to-manage package. I'm learning (slowly) that there is a reason for that. And THAT is what I am going to talk about today: why we have to give our worries to God, no matter HOW difficult our trouble is.
I think an essential question to ask, as I continue talking about worry, is to define what it is. The <a href="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/worry">dictionary</a> defines worry as "a cause of uneasiness or anxiety; trouble." To worry is " to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret."
Random trivia for the day: It also gives an alternate definition as "the action of the hounds in tearing to pieces the carcass of a fox." You're welcome.
The first thing I did when I decided to write about this was to jot down a list of words that I think of when I think of worry: anxiety; fear; doubt; not trusting; relying only on yourself. In my previous post on this topic, Dr. whats-his-face (sorry, remote posting, will edit this later!) said (of having the anxiety button on your brain on permanent 'on' position) "fear becomes the lens through which we see the world."
When we give our (doubt/worry/anxiety/fear/trouble) to the Lord, He is going to care for us. When we obey His word, and walk with Him, we experience the opposite of (doubt/worry/anxiety/fear/trouble). What are the opposites of these? My list has hope, love, peace, and faith/trust.
I keep seeing a few things over and over, both in myself and in the looking I've been doing. Fear keeps popping up. When we give ourselves over to anxiety, instead of relying on the Lord, we give fear a foothold. Ouch. Now, I know God's word has something (or two) to say about that.
We know that fear is a tool of the enemy, because it is the opposite of love:
The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 1 John 4:18
David, in Psalm 24:4, rejoiced that even though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, he would not fear evil - because God was with him! And in Proverbs 1:33, Solomon wrote that anyone who listens to wisdom "will live securely and be free from the fear of danger." He goes on to explain in 2:6, "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
By salvation through Christ, and God's grace, Paul tells us that we did not "receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!"" (Romans 8:15)
Now we come to the real meat of what I wanted to talk about. In James and Romans, James and Paul tell us why God commands us not to doubt.
<blockquote>Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith develops endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Now, if any of your lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.
The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities.
A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
Don't be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.</blockquote>
<blockquote>And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.</blockquote>
These are two of my favorite passages in the Bible. When we go through the trials of life, and obey God's commandment to stop worrying, we are completely blessed! My husband and I were having a conversation about these verses, and the word endurance (υπομονην in Greek) appears in both passages. The way I read it, when we have troubles (you know, the things that we worry about), instead of worrying, we should rejoice! When we rejoice in the trouble, we develop endurance (υπομονην), which creates character, which gives us hope.
That passage in James is pretty much chock-full of important things to remember, and while it is important to read the whole thing (context is important), I don't want to stray too far from my point. But when our faith is tested, and we rejoice (instead of giving ourselves over to fear), then our faith learns to endure. This brings us hope (which God will not disappoint). We also know (from the verses in my previous posts) that forbearing to worry brings us peace and strengthens our faith.
God's plan for our lives is perfect. When we sin, and walk a path of (doubt/worry/anxiety/fear/trouble), we stray from that path. But our Father is a loving Father, and when we repent, and ask for His forgiveness, He blesses us with the most beautiful gifts.
So the next time worry starts to creep in, remember: God is faithful, and you don't have to worry about a thing!