“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you…This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:5, 9.
Alfred E. Neuman is not alone. Worrying is something we all do from time to time. You might worry that you left a burner on at home or that you didn’t study enough for a test or that the deal you have been working on for months will fall through. But if a large percentage of your thoughts center on worrying, then you are probably asking yourself “why do I worry so much?” You may even be worried about it.
Joshua could have spent a lot of time worrying. With enemies to conquer, rivers to cross, in-house problems to solve, and land to divide fairly, many people depended on him for their safety and well-being. But before Joshua had embarked on the task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, as we read in the passage above, God had spoken to him about fear and worry. By the end of his life, Joshua had seen God’s faithfulness to His promises. Every time Joshua acted on faith rather than fear, God came through with everything Joshua needed to accomplish God’s purposes. Joshua 23:14 says, “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!”
You may not be able to directly control your circumstances, but you can control how you react to them. If you expect the worst, you will probably get it. Your inner thoughts tend to externalize themselves. You become what you think about. Whatever dominates your thoughts tends to manifest itself in your life. This is why it is imperative to control your thinking. Here’s the good news: it is nearly impossible to be discouraged when you are praising God. As long as you are focused on God-glorifying activities, there is no room for fear-producing thoughts and feelings. The essence of faith is acting like a thing is so, even when it is not.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” And Colossians 3:15 adds, “says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
Things beyond our control will happen in our day-to-day lives, but if we have the peace of God, confidence replaces doubt and peace replaces worry. Because instead of relying on our own strength to carry us, we rely on the promises found in Christ Jesus.
- When you face a worrying situation, do you tend to take action or to be more passive? What are some advantages and disadvantages to the way you respond to worry?
- Think about some of the things that cause you to worry. What are some of the costs of spending your time and energy worrying about those things?
- What can we do this week to worry less and trust God more?