Worry means “to divide, part, rip, tear apart.” For instance, in Luke 21:29-33 Jesus warns us not to be divided between the “kingdom of God” and “the worries of life.”
Worry is a troubling concern with the future over which we have no control. Jesus warned in Matthew 6:34, “do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Worry is the opposite of “trust/faith,” which are the only effective means by which we can address the unknown. Paul points us to God in 2 Corinthians 1:9, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” There is something to be learned in hard times.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is the means by which we grasp the promises of God to make them a reality in our daily lives. The Psalmist expresses assurance and conviction in God’s care in Psalm 46:1–3:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.”
The coronavirus is an opportunity to challenge our faith and to grow in our trust/faith in God.
A lack of faith leads us to focus our attention and energies on tomorrow which is not yet here. As a result today’s responsibilities suffer. The unmet responsibilities from today add pressure to tomorrow, and worry continues to grow. By consuming the time, worry keeps us from serving God and others today (consider Matthew 22:37-39).
All we can do is plan as much as we can, then trust God to establish our steps and to prepare us to meet tomorrow with faith.
God Has a Plan
Work at praying and praising. In Philippians 4:6-7 the apostle Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Use worry as a loudspeaker that shouts, “It’s time to pray.” List the things you are worrying about and use them as a prayer list. Be specific. Convert news reports and church emails into prayer lists. Call friends, family, neighborhoods and ask them how you can be praying for them.
Be ready to ask a couple of general non-invasive questions to prime the pump. “Has the coronavirus affected your work?” Or, “Is there anyone in particular about which you are concerned?”
But pray “with thanksgiving.” To conquer worry we need to change our focus to the two great commandments.
Worry focuses on:
- What I DON’T have
- What COULD happen
- My SIN
Thanksgiving focusing on:
- What I DO have
- God’s PROMISES
- God’s SALVATION
- GOD and NEIGHBOR
The resulting promise is the “peace of God,” the emotional restoring of our soul that comes from trusting in our Good Shepherd (see Ps 23).
We see another aspect of refocusing in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Thoughts impact emotions. Use the eight topics stated and list three things your thoughts can dwell on under each one. Don’t worry about where an item might fit. Carry the list with you. When you begin to worry, refer to your list and choose one on which to ponder, pray, and praise.
As we pray, praise, ponder, and practice we will begin to experience God’s peace more and more. It doesn’t happen overnight, but peace will come. It’s God’s promise.“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9