Keith Wishum: Winning the war with worry

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I understand what Mark Twain meant. He once wrote, “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” I can totally relate.
I understand because I worry too much. I imagine horrible scenarios and wrestle on my bed at night trying to make these things that have not happened come out right. I sit up in the dark hours rehearsing dreaded conversations — confrontations that never materialize. I fret over bills. I worry about the kids’ health, their grades, how I’ll pay for college. I agonize over a “To Do” list that grows faster than kudzu.
It’s hard to be happy while worrying. Anxiety sneaks in and throws my joy off the train. So why do I do it?
I worry too much because I forget some simple, basic advice —  advice that would help me win over worry? What is it? I suspect that you already know it, too. But maybe you also sometimes forget.
The advice is this: Let go, and let God. As the apostle Paul put it, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Simple, isn’t it? But profound. Notice carefully what he said. Don’t be anxious, not about anything. Just tell God what you need. Then, leave it in his hands. It really is simple. But so easy to forget.
Lest Paul’s advice seem trite or overly simplistic, remember his own situation. Persecuted, imprisoned, and often penniless, Paul knew real, hard-core struggles. But he also recognized that he served a God who cares and a God who can.
Paul also knew that his happiness (and ours) depends on giving our cares over to our Father. In this Scripture, you’ll find a very healthy sandwich. Paul begins the paragraph (v. 4) talking about rejoicing — being happy. He ends by speaking of a peace of mind beyond what we can imagine (v. 7). Sandwiched in the middle is the meat — the part about turning our cares over to God.
Joy and peace can be ours, if we can just remember this advice. If we can remember that God has the power to handle whatever comes. If we can remember that God loves us more than we can imagine. If we can but remember to present our cares to God, we won’t have any left for ourselves.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.