Sunday, February 1, 2015

I grew up hearing, “Worry is a sin.” This is based, of course, on the scripture that tells us, “Do not be anxious for anything,” but ... what exactly is worry?

The dictionary would tell you that one definition of worry is to shake, to snap at or chew on, to rub repeatedly. This describes so perfectly what happens during those moments when we fall prey to our fears.

They pick us up ... shake us to disorient us ... then settle down for the chewing that leaves us shredded and raw.

The thought occurs to me ... maybe worry is not so much something that we do, as something that happens to us. And it’s the giving in to the worry—letting ourselves remain its victim, its prey—that we’re supposed to fight.

I suppose, really, it’s just a matter of semantics here, and “do not be anxious” and “do not give in to worry” are two different ways to say the same thing. Mentally, though, it helps me to think of the fear and worry as something outside myself, trying to get in and devour me.

Maybe it starts as a mere nibble at the edges of my heart. Maybe it’s a sharp snap, a snarl, that initially I recoil from. But it seems once worry gets its teeth into me, there’s a poison that seeps in, paralyzing, making me insensible to the fact that the worry is slowly, surely, shredding my soul and spirit.

How do we get free, then?

By throwing ourselves before the Lord. “ everything, with all  prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.” Sometimes it’s as simple as a desperate, God help me! Even that can provide at least the jolt that yanks us free from worry’s jaws.

Pray, we’re told, with every kind of prayer there is. And in everything. Not just the “big” things, but anything which threatens to steal in and nip at us. The more persistent the worry, the more prayer we should pour ourselves into.

And what then? A peace we cannot explain or even fully understand will, as Scripture says, guard us. God’s peace is, itself a force to be reckoned with. And lest we doubt that, do we consider the metaphor of peace “like a river”? We tend to think of peace like a pool, undisturbed, but Scripture says it’s as powerful and relentless as a flowing stream.

Imagine, then, a river sweeping in, and washing all those fears away.

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4, NKJV)


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