February 15th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
A life free from worry. To some of us, it sounds like Shangri-La: wonderful and impossible to find. But we aren’t doomed to be worry's prisoner. Read on if you would like to know “How do I stop worrying?”
I am no stranger to this topic. Over the course of my life I have chewed my nails to stubs, bitten the skin around my nails, pulled out my eyelashes, and stress-eaten cheese, chocolate, and jellybeans.
I have stayed awake countless nights, playing out different horrible scenarios. I have had panic attacks and crying jags. It’s not pretty to admit, but I have let worry take over my life.
If someone had said to me in a time of intense worry, “I know the secret of how to stop worrying,” I would have laughed (bitterly) in his face.
Synonyms for worry are “anxiety” and “unease.” But they don’t really sum it up. Worry is a bit like the wind. You have a hard time giving a description of it, but you know it when you feel it.
When you worry, your mind dwells on difficulties or troubles. It can even manufacture scenarios to worry about--a hundred million “what ifs.”
Worry often feels beyond our control, as though we are stuck in its grip rather than the other way around.
If you have never worried in your life, well, I hate to break this to you, but you aren’t human. Some of us worry more than others, but we all do it.
And that is why the Bible is not silent on the subject of worry. In fact, it is chock full of words about worry and its opposite--peace.
What does the Bible say about worry? Here are some Bible verses about peace and worry.
This one is in the Book of Common Prayer. It is called “The Comfortable Words.” I like that name--words that give you comfort, or even more, words that make you comfortable, like snuggling in a warm blanket with a cup of tea.
This next verse is one I say every night with my child who suffers from nighttime anxiety. We like to think the part that says, “I do not give as the world gives” means there are no take-backs with God’s peace. And he gives without any expectation that you will give him something in return. Peace is a gift, pure and simple.
I say this next one to myself when I start to worry about the future--college savings, retirement, or even short term needs that seem beyond us. It is a reminder that a) God loves me enough to provide for me b) Worry is not making the situation any better. It is just stealing my focus and my joy.
This last one is helpful to repeat to yourself. (Although, truth be told, I don’t like it when others tell it to me. It feel like I am being scolded, and I am already knee-deep in negative emotions.) I repeat it to myself because it offers me a way OUT of worry. It offers this task-oriented, type-A planner something to DO.
And now back to the million-dollar question: How do I stop worrying?
Here is what I have come to based on what the Bible says:
God stops the worry by replacing it with his peace.
I know what you are thinking: “Okay...so how do I get God’s peace?” Well, the good news is that he has an unlimited supply and he is eager to give it to you. Here’s how:
If you struggle with worry, know that you are not alone. Well-meaning people will tell you to “just stop worrying already.” But you know that worry creeps in. It just does.
I don’t expect my life to be free from worry the same way I don’t expect to be free from thirst. If I don’t drink water, I get thirsty. If I don’t call out for God’s peace, I worry.
The good news is that God’s peace is inexhaustible and always available. When worry creeps up, take a walk, take a breath, meditate on a Bible verse, talk to God. Ask him for yet another daily (or hourly) dose of his peace.
In some ways, I am thankful that I struggle with worry. It has definitely forced me to talk to God and to lean on him. It has made me open my Bible and look for answers. It has made me humble--I am not capable of producing my own happiness and peace. I’m just not.
But he is.
Do you want to learn more? Read this article on "The Opposite of Fear."
Do you want us to pray for you? You can even be anonymous.