Do you worry?
LOL, that's like asking if the sky is blue — we all do worry, to some extent. But some of us worry more than others, even though we know that the Bible discourages any kind of worry.
“Be anxious for nothing,” and all that. Right?? But a lot of the time it seems to be easier said than done.
It was for me, too. But my trust in the Lord has truly increased greatly over the past several months — and with it has come a corresponding decrease in worry.
You see, my husband's job situation has been HORRIBLE over the last several years. The place where he had been working for 10 years became untenable, prompting an actual career change. While the money was GREAT at the new job (and I was beginning to feel like the budget was going to be OK for the first time in a LONG time), the job itself was not a good fit and lasted less than 6 months. So he went back to his old career — but had to return to practically an entry-level position. Over time he's been working his way back up the ladder — changing jobs several times while doing so — and our budget has been tighter than it's been since the kids were little.
During this time, my little anxiety meter was through the roof. Money had always been a source of worry for me, because there has never been enough — or at least that's what it always seemed like. So all these job and income changes were really pushing my buttons, and I was worrying A LOT.
I finally realized how much of a mess I had become, worrying so much that I was not a pleasant person to be around. Nor was I a pleasant wife, if you know what I mean; our marriage relationship was strained, to say the least. I was trying to control EVERYTHING. Also, I wasn't sleeping. And I lived every day uptight, snapping at the kids for little things, emotional, crying, etc. etc. etc.
All because I wanted things to be a certain way, and I was scared and worried because they were not.
Now, though, I am much more stable and relaxed. I am able to leave it in the Lord's hands so much more easily. I am emotionally more at rest. I can smile and laugh and let it all go (most of the time, anyway, :-) ). The money isn't flowing any freer, lol; in fact in some ways there is even less. But with the Holy Spirit's help, anxiety and worry don't define me as much anymore. I have more trust in God. And therefore I worry less.
The two are mutually exclusive, you know. You can't have both wonderful trust and crippling worry at the same time; it's either one or the other. Put another way, trust and worry have an inverse relationship — as one goes up, the other goes down.
Here's what I did, and what I recommend for anyone suffering from worry, anxiety, being uptight — basically anyone whose trust in the Lord is less than it should be:
I started reading the Psalms.
I got the idea from a recorded sermon by John MacArthur. I don't remember which one, unfortunately. But he made the comment that anyone suffering from day-to-day anxiety needed to know God's character better, and the way to know God's character better was to read the Psalms. So that's what I did.
And now I agree with him wholeheartedly that I know WHO GOD IS so much better now. And as a result of knowing who God is, I have more trust in Him.
As with anything else I recommend on this blog, the plan to build your trust in God (and worry less) is easy and uncomplicated. It has two major steps:
First, read one Psalm each morning.
(Or half of one, if it's more than 20-30 verses.) As you read, write down in list form all of the things that the Psalm says about God — what/who He is and what He does. This will include adjectives that describe Him, names He is given, verbs reflecting actions He takes, etc. Even if today's Psalm says the same things that yesterday's Psalm said, write them down again. If you are like me, your brain needs to be hammered with the truth over and over again, lol.
Then, write down 2-4 prayer requests and pray over them.
There is only one caveat about the prayer requests — they cannot be repeated frequently. You pray them ONCE, then you pray for other things tomorrow and the next day. You only pray for something again if it's been a few weeks and there is new information. Otherwise you find different things to pray about each day — and only a small number of them. You'll get around to everything eventually; trust me on that. :-)
I know the story in the Bible about the lady who goes to the judge and asks repeatedly — and there is a time and place for that. But right now, the idea is to build up our trust by NOT wallowing in thoughts about what is wrong with our lives. LOL. By presenting our requests to God and then LEAVING THEM THERE. By remembering WHO HE IS and believing it is true for our lives.
As you notice over time, day after day, all the wonderful characteristics God has, and how He CARES for His people, the Holy Spirit will begin to write those truths on your heart. Those things that He does for His people in Scripture are things He does for YOU, if you are a Christian. Bask in His lovingkindness and faithfulness towards YOU. The circumstances of your life may not seem like it right now, but He has an eternal plan in mind, and those things the Psalms say about Him are TRUE for you TODAY.
It doesn't happen overnight, so don't expect it to. And you have to be diligent about being in the Psalms as many days as you possibly can. It is by our being in the Word and drawing from it consistently that the Holy Spirit can effectively change our hearts.
I do NOT suggest trying to do a crash course and reading umpteen Psalms in one day or trying to read them all in a week. This does not provide the slow-drip, lasting change that our stony hearts need. It might be good for a jump start, but then in a week your battery will run out again and you'll be worrying just as much as before. Choose the long path — you'll get where you want to go. Shortcuts aren't effective at promoting spiritual growth. (Yo, does anyone notice all the analogies I just fit into that one paragraph?? Bonus points for me! Lol!)
Related Reading: 10 Doable Tips for Consistent Personal Bible Study
By the time you are even just halfway through, I think you will feel a lot better about everything. You will have internalized much of what you've read — and you will have seen prayers answered without your stewing about the issues, answered in ways that were better than what you thought you wanted in the first place. Or you will see how time has resolved things that you thought were SO IMPORTANT AND SCARY — but they just “magically” worked themselves out or went away altogether.
Because that's what happened to me.
And guess what? My marriage is better. My kids don't hate me — at least not quite as much, lol. I don't feel like I have to control everything. I truly believe the Lord will handle it. I truly do worry less — lots less.
I still have moments/days, don't get me wrong — but they are fewer and farther between now. And when they occur, I just pull open the Psalms and dive back in for a quick mental and emotional adjustment.
(Note: there are some Psalms that don't talk much about God at all. Write down what you can, if anything, then pray and keep going the next day. These are by far the minority, so they won't affect the overall goal.)
A side benefit is you don't have to come up with a new devotional plan for awhile! It will take quite some time to get all the way through; but it doesn't get boring, because God always reveals new ideas to us, even when we think we're reading something similar to what we've read before.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” You know who said that? Corrie Ten Boom, who alone of her family survived a German concentration camp. If she can trust God, then we can, too. The solution, as she makes clear, is to KNOW HIM BETTER.
I've actually already written an article about how to worry less, called The Best Perspective for Dealing with Anxiety. In there I detail more about my husband's job woes and how they affected me, and what someone told me that helped me gain an eternal perspective on them at the time. But reading the Psalms, as I've presented in today's post, is what has really engraved God's care for me onto my heart. It has made the difference between knowing something intellectually and actually FEELING it to be true day after day.
If you are a worrier, then take some time to try this plan to build your trust in God. I think you will be glad you did. Your perspective will change, even if your circumstances do not. He really is a WONDERFUL God! Don't you wish you could KNOW and FEEL that EVERY day? You can. :-)