How to Stop Worrying

Q: How do I keep from worrying?” - Michelle E.

A: This is something I have trouble with as well. A lot of times I find that I feel like I need to worry, because to not worry would be irresponsible. Many times I need to give myself permission to not worry.

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I was just having some quiet time with God a few years ago and some things came to me. At first I wasn’t sure why it was relevant, but then it all came together.

  • I never really thought too much about the part in the bible where Jesus calmed the storm. They were on the boat and afraid for their lives, so they went and tried to wake Jesus up who was sleeping. Jesus said, “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” He didn’t commend them for being smart enough to come get Him, He got on to them for being afraid!In their culture, the most powerful thing in the world was the sea. They called it “the abyss”. They were terrified of it. The sea was massive and caused many deaths. The abyss is mentioned several times in Revelation, but also in Luke. Jesus having power over the wind and the waves must have blown them away (no pun intended). With a mere mention of His words, the most powerful thing in their culture fell into submission! The disciples responded, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

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  • I also remember learning about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. It was more than just doing something a servant would do. In their culture, showing the bottom of your feet to someone is the most insulting thing you can do. My father went over to Jordan on a mission trip years ago and they warned him about crossing his legs for this very reason. To put your foot on something is to show complete domination. Like when you destroy an opponent and you place your foot on their body in victory. So washing the disciples’ feet was the most humbling thing He could do!
  • After feeding the 5,000, Jesus made the disciples go ahead of Him in a boat so that He could isolate Himself to pray. When He needed to rejoin His disciples, He didn’t fly over to the boat. He didn’t teleport to the boat. I never really thought about it, but either of those things would have been incredibly impressive and a lot easier and quicker. If He wanted to be more low-key about it, He could have just made a boat appear that He could take and no one would have been aware of His miracle. Or, He could have communicated with them in a dream or a vision to come get Him.But, He didn’t. Jesus made an interesting choice. He walked on the water all the way to the boat. He displayed the ultimate sign of dominance over the most powerful and feared thing in their culture! He stood on top of the abyss and walked over it. How powerful this must have been for the Disciples! Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water” He too was able to stand on the abyss, until he saw the wind and became afraid. Like last time, Jesus said “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” When the climbed into the boat, the wind died down.With such an incredibly powerful sign, it’s no wonder that this was the moment when they said “Truly you are the Son of God” and began worshiping Him.

There is nothing more powerful than our Lord and Savior. I can just imagine Jesus telling the disciples in the boat “Why did you wake me? Why are you afraid? I’m here with you! What could possibly happen???” I think that’s why Jesus was upset at their lack of faith. Jesus was with them, so even though there was a storm, why did they fear? Nothing could happen while Jesus was with them! The abyss and the storms are in complete submission to Him.

Jesus tells us “Do not worry” (and told His disciples in the sermon on the mount before the event on the boat happened). And Paul says “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

If the disciples didn’t need to worry with Jesus asleep in the next room, how much more should we feel safe with Jesus awake in our hearts? He is with us always! Not only do we not need  to worry, we are commanded not to! For some reason, the word “anxious” hit me pretty hard. Not worrying I understood, but to not even be anxious about anything? Don’t even be nervous??? Not only could I give myself permission not to be anxious, I needed to command myself not to!

In this day and time, we are facing danger our generation has never had to before. Things are scary, and there is a storm brewing. But, Jesus is with us. He may not stop the storm, or prevent it. He didn’t when He was sleeping on the boat. He allowed the storm to happen, but expected His disciples to not fear because Jesus, who has complete domination over the wind and the abyss, was with them. If Jesus is with us, why fear? Why worry? Why be anxious? Why be nervous? He will keep us safe.

But, how do you keep from being anxious? That’s an easy thing to say, but hard to accomplish. Paul tells us how: “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” There ya go! :)

We need to pray and present our requests to Him, but we need to do it “with thanksgiving”. We tend to forget that part. Thank Him for all that He has done for us in the past. You think Peter would have sank if He had first thanked Jesus for calming the storm the last time they were on the boat? Being reminded of what He has done for us in the past helps us have faith.

My advice is to start a prayer journal where you write your petitions to God. When God answers the prayer, highlight it in a certain color and then write the answer below it. Pretty soon, you will see all of the highlighted prayers every time you go to write a new one. Give thanks for all the times He has come through in the past and give specific examples. By the time you finish, you will notice that your anxiety has significantly diminished!

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- Jim Graham
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