While driving in to the study this morning, the radio hosts (Skip and Amy on K-Love) reported that parents spend 40 hours a week worrying about their children. Most reporting that they lose sleep while worrying. The hosts mentioned that we are not supposed to worry reminding us that the Bible talks about not being anxious. Skip suggested that worry over children seems to occur naturally, but that we should set that worry aside and think about all the good things about our children. There is merit to his suggestion; but I wonder, “How many can easily set worry aside?”
What does Scripture say about worry?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. 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 which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious 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 arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious 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.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
Both Jesus and Paul tell us to not be anxious (to not worry). Great! Now I am worried that I worry! What can we do? How can we stop worrying?
I grew-up on the Gulf Coast of Florida and now live in an area prone to tornadoes. The church building my study is in is a new building that resulted from a E-F 5 tornado destroying the former building in 2011. Living in areas that have hurricanes or tornadoes (those that live in California can substitute earthquakes and fires) quickly reminds you that your belongings are simply things that are temporary at best. Houses and their contents are replaceable. You learn not to worry about things. But children, spouses, parents, and other people you know and love; well that is different. How can we stop worrying about them?
Might I suggest that there is a difference between worry and concern. Paul tells the Philippians, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.”
(Philippians 4:10). These are the same Christians he told to not be anxious or worry.
There is a difference between worry and concern.
Worry paralyzes me. Worry causes me to think negatively about my situation or the possibility of my situation and keeps me in my head preventing me from success. Worry communicates a lack of faith in God to work things out for my ultimate good. Worry focuses on what is temporary and not what is eternal (2Co 4:17-18). If I am worried about my children, I lay awake and night and fret over what they are doing, what might happen to them, and what they know or do not know.
Concern, on the other hand, leads me to action. The Philippians had concern for Paul and his ministry and found a way to assist him. They acted in the way that they could. Concern looks for solutions, whereas worry focuses on the potential and sometimes imagined problems. If we have concern for our children’s safety and for their future, we do what we can to protect them and provide them what they need for self-protection and for a successful future. We pray and plan, plan and pray, and then we do what we can to help. Our help may come in many forms – even corrective discipline.
Be concerned for your children, for your family, and for your friends. Do what you can to help the succeed in life and especially as a child of God. Don’t worry, you and God have got this!