From Worrier to Warrior
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Once upon a time I prided myself on my ability to pretty much roll with the punches and easily adapt to just about any situation. Stress and anxiety were not words in my vocabulary - that is, until chronic pain arrived nearly 10 years ago. Then I became a giant ball of non-stop worry, the point where by July of 2011 I could barely eat, was dizzy all the time and lost nearly 20 pounds in about a month!
I’m able to cope with life much better these days, and as a result my battles with fear, worry, and anxiety have decreased significantly, but it’s still a struggle (and I imagine it will be as long as my companion chronic pain is around). With the news and social media blasting us with disaster and catastrophe 24/7, it’s no wonder so many of us struggle with worry, especially when it comes to our kids. How do we move from a posture of fear to faith, take worry and become warriors?
Kelly Barbrey from Proverbs 31 Ministries writes about this in her devotional titled “From Worrier to Warrior.” I had to chuckle when I read her intro: “I come from a long line of worriers. It seems something in our DNA causes our minds to jump to the scariest and most irrational of conclusions.” One look at my reflection in the mirror and I know she hit the nail on the head; there is just something in our nature that makes us want to worry! Why? As I’ve tried to understand my own life, I came to the conclusion that it goes back to the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden - that I want to be God, and through my ruminations figure out what’s going to happen in the future which then gives me some sense of control in a world that is unpredictable. You’d think the fact that I’m rarely ever right about my predictions would make me stop doing this, but no… Maybe you can relate?
So what does the Bible say about all this? Kelly goes to Philippians 4:6-7 (one of my favorite passages), where Paul writes:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ."
Now we may not be able to stop ourselves from worrying - we’re fallen human beings after all - but we can control how we respond. Barbrey gives this wise feedback on today’s passage:
You might not be able to curb irrational thoughts as they creep into your mind. You are human, after all. But you can control how you react to them. And the beauty of it is that God is always awake and ready to hear your deepest concerns, fears and doubts, no matter the hour, and no matter how silly they seem.
I think part of this is the actualization of Romans 12:1-2, the renewing of our minds so that we are more able to discern the will of God. As our minds are transformed by walking with Jesus, our responses begin to change, and more and more our first response to the chaos of life is to bring our fears and worries to Jesus, instead of trying to figure things out on our own.
There have been times when my mind was spinning so fast from worry that I couldn’t fall asleep. If you’ve ever had that happen (maybe it was just last night!), Kelly offers this closing thought:
The next time you find yourself staring at the ceiling, tempted to pick up the phone or nudge your spouse awake, proactively seek Jesus, and become a warrior against worry.