My New Hobby is Worrying

According to most books of names, Roger means “warrior. I think that’s a misprint. It should be “worrier.”

I didn’t use to be like this, but the past five years have been rough — a constant barrage of problems large and small. There’s been some ebb and flow — a good week here, a good month there. But overall I feel like life has thrown up on me.

I know there are people who constantly deal with heavier burdens than I’ve had to bear. And I know that everybody has something to worry about. It’s not that I feel singled out so much, or that I think my problems are insurmountable when taken one at a time.

But I haven’t been able to take them one at a time lately. They’ve been piling up so I never get a break. I’m exhausted.

Through it all, I’ve discovered that I’m a worrier. Not so much about physical things — the car breaking down, the ceiling leaking — I usually deal with that stuff pretty well. But when the issue involves someone I care about, and especially if there’s any degree of uncertainty, it eats at me. I imagine all sorts of horrible things. I’ve even given it a name — Worst Case Scenario Syndrome. It affects me physically — I’m distracted and nervous and I get an unpleasant feeling in my gut.

I recently finished a study of the book of Philippians. In it I read:

Rejoice in the Lord always (4:4).

Be anxious for nothing (4:6).

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (4:11).

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (4:13).

I first memorized the book of Philippians about 20 years ago. I’ve known of these verses far longer than that. I’ve always believe them intellectually, but not so much emotionally or spiritually. After all, it’s easy to say I won’t worry about stuff, but when there’s an issue with someone I care about … I’m not really supposed to be joyful and worry-free about that, am I? Isn’t that callous or, at least, escapist? Aren’t we supposed to care about others?

I’ve prayed about my worries. I concentrate on Philippians 4 and make sure I go through all the steps. I’d experience the peace that God promises and move on with my life — for about 10 minutes until I found myself worrying again. I even moved on to verses 8 and 9, which get left out of the equation so often — Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

In other words, don’t stop with not worrying. Occupy your mind with thoughts of good things. Makes sense. For about 10 minutes, when I find myself worrying again.

And then it occurred to me who it was that was telling me these things. It was Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 he paints a picture of his life … In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

When Paul wrote Philippians, he was in prison, surrounded by guards. He didn’t know if he would ever be free again. He knew he might be on trial for his life at any time. He was in prison because of the hatred of the Jews in Jerusalem who stirred up the crowds against him. Some of these people knew Paul personally. They may have been his friends at one time, or his fellow-students. More than 40 of them made a vow never to eat or drink again until Paul had been killed.

In addition, there were men who were preaching with the motive of making Paul’s imprisonment more miserable (1:17). And most of his friends and fellow-workers had abandoned him (2:21).

And yet this was the man who wrote that we should rejoice always and never worry and always be content.

Wow.

Paul’s life was much, much harder than mine. And he wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who knew from eternity past exactly what I would face. He also knows the future and how everything will turn out. And He still sent me this message through Paul.

So where does that leave me? I’ve concluded that God wants me to make a serious commitment to Him by faith — to REALLY, not just in words but in actions, let Him worry about my problems and to rejoice in Him and be content NO MATTER WHAT. I need my theology to become biography.

It may be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And yes, I know I can only accomplish it through His strength.

So, now that I know this, how am I doing? Not so good, but I’m getting better. Again, I take comfort from Paul, who writes of his own spiritual journey toward Christ-likeness. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect [mature], but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-15).

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3 Responses to My New Hobby is Worrying

  1. karen says:

    Hopefully you’ll abandon this hobby more quickly than your others. :-)

  2. Beverly says:

    Thanks for this post! We have been bombarded with problems lately and needed to hear this.

  3. beth says:

    love you.

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