Everyone has worry and anxiety. As Christians, how should we deal with them? Rev Margaret Tay shares her thoughts.
In a survey by Regus, it was found that over one-third (34%) of Singaporean workers are actually losing sleep worrying about work.1 According to doctors and human resource experts, more young professionals are also facing medical problems, such as insomnia, depression and hypertension because of extra-long work hours.2 How does a Christian deal with such stress? How can the Church lead the way in living a restful and fulfilling life in spite of daily pressures?
There are two things we can do when we’re stressed out: Worry, or trust God.
The Greek word for the words “worry” or “anxious” comes from two words: “a part of” and “divide”. So, to worry or to be anxious literally means “to be drawn in different directions”. In other words, worry pulls us apart. It makes us unfruitful. “…the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
Worry negatively affects our thoughts, feelings, spirit and body. Worry indicates a lack of trust in God and hampers our relationship with Him (Matthew 6:31, 34). Worry pulls us apart. Vance Havner once said: “Worry, like a rocking chair, will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Worry is wasted energy.
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything…Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” But is this realistic in fast-paced Singapore?
Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter, yet he said: “Do not be anxious about anything.” In fact, the secrets to how not to worry have also been revealed in the same verses.
- Prayabout everything
“…in everything, by prayer and petition, …present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)Pray about everything and not just some things. Sometimes we do not have, because we do not ask. (James 4:2) God is concerned about every aspect of our lives, and nothing is too big or too small a request for Him.Who is this God that we are presenting our requests to? We need to understand that this God:
- Lovesus and desires only what is bests for us
- Iswise and knows what is best for us
- Isall powerful and able to bring to pass what is best for us
“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern.” (1 Peter 5:7)
2. Thank God for all things
“… always ask Him with a thankful heart.” (Philippians 4:6, GNT)
A thankful heart shapes our perspective of the situation. It helps us count our blessings and see God’s hand in every situation. Grateful people are happy people.
The result of praying and thanking God for everything is that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, ESV) This peace of God will stand guard over your thoughts and feelings about your concerns, helping you not to worry and be drawn in different directions.
3. Think about the right things
“…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8, NLT)
Finally, we must fix our thoughts on good things. What we focus our minds on affects our lives. Worry means we are fixing our minds on negative things. Worry is thinking “wrongly” about things.
How then can we change the way we think? According to Les Parrott, it takes only three seconds:
“The more I’ve studied what separates those who excel from those who don’t, the more I’ve come to believe that it’s often a matter of a mere three seconds. studies have shown that it’s the amount of time it takes to redirect a negative impulse in the human brain.”
Three seconds is enough time to give your first impulse a second thought. And that makes all the difference between wishing you could change things and actually transforming your life. In three seconds, you can move from ‘whatever’ to ‘whatever it takes’. Hard to believe? That’s because you have fallen into a trap that most people encounter – believing your first impulse and letting it sabotage you. These self-defeating impulses emerge automatically: “There’s nothing I can do about it”; “It’s too difficult to even attempt” or “it’s not my problem, somebody else is to blame.” But it only takes three seconds to move to your second impulse: “I can’t do everything, but I can do something”; “I love a challenge” or “the buck stops here”.3
Here’s an example of how to use this principle of re-directing a negative impulse or taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ:
First impulse: “If I lose my job, I won’t know how to cope.”
Second thought: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
Don’t worry, and instead think the right things!
- Parrott, Les. 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Collins, 2007.
About Rev Margaret Tay:
Rev Margaret Tay serves as Ambassador in Trinity Christian Centre, with vast experience as a pastor, cell church trainer and consultant. A godly woman, she is a gifted teacher and has a pastoral heart for God’s people. She has a passion for discipleship and leadership development, and desires to see strong churches established.