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Worry is an automatic behavior for many people. It’s an attempt to control something that cannot be controlled. Therefore, the more you worry, the more frustrated you’ll become.
There is plenty in life that happens against our wills, so there is plenty of opportunity to worry. In our wisdom, we don’t know what to try to prevent and what to allow. But God has perfect wisdom.
If worry is a behavior then it is also a choice. When a person is accustomed to worrying it might feel involuntary. That can happen when the belief system that allows worry is buried out of awareness.
Anxious worrying involves fear. What is worrying you? Is it more physical like health (fear of suffering) or finances (fear of powerlessness)? Maybe it is more personal like your worth (fear of rejection). Whatever it is, the underlying belief system has something to do with trust.
Ridding yourself of worry requires trusting God with the parts of life out of your control. The more you focus (without considering God) on what you can’t control, the more anxious you’ll become. The more you live in fear, the more discouraged you’ll become.
Encouragement is the Antidote to Worry
Anxious fear brings depression,Proverbs 12:25 TPT
but a life-giving word of encouragement
can do wonders to restore joy to the heart.
The only way to live worry-free is to give up your attempts to control the outcomes of your life. This doesn’t mean giving up on trying to make a positive difference in this life. You can love God with everything you have, but still accept that this life rarely goes exactly how you want it to.
There’s always a greater reality beyond what you see immediately in front of you. Encouraging words never need to be empty promises. Whatever is encouraging must be based on a promise of God. Evil may appear to be winning during this life. Evil might look like it has defeated good, but God always has the final word. His voice brings victory.
The horse is made ready for the day of battle,Proverbs 21:31 NIV
but victory rests with the Lord.
Maybe you are caught up in fear. Maybe you aren’t allowing a life-giving word of encouragement to reach your heart. Maybe then you are putting too much hope into your own efforts. We can (and should) prepare for battle, but it is only because of God that we can win.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NIV
Living intentionally by telling God you want to be more hopeful. Agree that you want to open your heart to encouragement. Imagine God encouraging you. Which of the following would be most life-giving to you?
- You are unconditionally loved.
- You are safe and secure.
- You are wanted in a relationship with me.
- You are significant and valued.
- You have a place in my kingdom-house.
Fortunately for us believers, all of the above are true. Then why don’t they often feel true?
Discouraging Wounds are Real, But God’s Encouraging Words are More Real
None of those statements require that your circumstances are always pleasant or desirable. They are spiritual truths more than they are facts fulfilled by this current life. Spiritual truths last forever; circumstances are temporary. Don’t confuse the two. When you believe your circumstances are forever and the truth is temporary, you will understandably be afraid. So if you’re struggling, ask yourself which way you’re believing.
Spiritual truths remain true, even when they don’t feel true. Who you are (all the good that God made you to be) remains true, even when you don’t feel good about yourself.
When terrible, painful things happen, we are supposed to feel sad, but not discouraged forever. If you lose a loved one, develop a serious medical condition, or face humiliating rejection, you will feel it, and you should.
No doubt that life circumstances can be obstacles to faith. No doubt there is plenty to be sad about. Just not sad forever. The reality of who God is brings joy to the heart.
Wounds are real, but what God has to say counts infinitely more. Open your heart to life-giving encouragement.
For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.1 John 5:4 NLT
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.