I’m a first-class worrier! Ask me how I’m doing, and I can prattle off a long list of problems I’m facing, challenges I’m tackling, how busy I am, how tired I am, how overwhelmed I am… Poor me, poor me.
I was having one of my ‘I can’t cope with this; the world is falling apart; how will I survive?’ moments, when a very wise and loving friend offered to pray for me. At the end of the prayer she said that God had given her a word for me. The storm was in my head; everything is really fine; I am all worked up over nothing.
I’ve been worrying again.
It was a light bulb moment. The devil had tricked me into a cycle of worry that had not only stolen my joy, but had stolen my productivity, my capacity to accomplish things, and my faith.
My attitude changed straight away, and while I still fight a battle with the worry monster, I’m making progress with these simple disciplines that remind me to trust God.
I’ve been counting my blessings, listing out all of the wonderful things in my life: people who love me, my health, my friends, the opportunities that I have. There is so much happening in my life right now to thank God for.
Do you have a gratitude journal? It can be a fancy, purpose designed journal, a simple note book, or a sticky note in a place you will see it often. Take a moment every single day to be grateful, thank God for your blessings and appreciate the good things in your life.
God has always been faithful. He has proved it, time and time and time again. He has always come through in the past, and so I can trust Him with my present and my future. I have to take time to remember the past, how God has provided and helped me through difficult days. God has not changed, and He will continue to do a good work.
I love reading old journals, remembering things that happened to me years ago. I forget easily. When I read about past experiences, or look through old photo albums, I am reminded of what I’ve been through, and how God came through in unexpected ways. He is good, and His timing is always perfect.
3. Discipline my thoughts
Paul reminds us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). (NIV) I can easily let my thoughts run away with wild catastrophes, worst case scenarios and rehearsed arguments. All the feelings of hurt, grief, fear, and pain become very real and overwhelming. But they are only thoughts. They are not real, they have no power apart from the power I give them.
It takes discipline to take captive every thought. It can be hard work, but it does get easier over time, and it is the single-most powerful tool in the fight against worry. When the doubts and fears fill my thoughts, I put them safely back into their box, and meditate on God’s truth instead.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).
4. Trust my foundation
The foundation of faith that my life is built upon is strong and immovable. It is true, it is sure, and I can trust that it will not move or crumble.
I’m saved. The penalty of my sin and shame has been paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus. My salvation is secure, for now and all of eternity. There is nothing that I can do to change the way God loves me. I have nothing to earn, nothing to prove, nothing to pay.
My identity as a child of God is secure. I have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, he knows my name, he cares about me, and he is always with me. He has chosen me, adopted me as His child, and has an inheritance prepared for me. I have no reason to be afraid.
When my heart reminds me of these truths, worry seems silly.
5. Expect miracles
Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe in the power of God? God can do things that are absolutely impossible. There is no reasonable explanation. God makes things happen that are beyond our capacity, beyond our understanding, and beyond our common sense.
God has been challenging me, instead of printing out a big sign that clearly labels my challenge ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ and curling up in a ball of failure and defeat, to pray for a miracle and stretch my faith to believe the impossible can become a reality.
So many verses challenge us to pray for the impossible, and yet this is not our first reaction to mountains that stand in our way. We exhaust ourselves with climbing, or digging, or complaining. I’m determined to start praying and believing.
In Matthew 17:20 Jesus reminds us, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
6. Chase wisdom
In difficult seasons the simplest wisdom seems to go out the window. We lose our common sense when we need it most. Eat well, sleep well, get some exercise, laugh, love. Do the things that fill you up, feed your soul and give you the resources you need to get through. Make wise choices about what you read, what you watch, who you spend time with and what you do with your discretionary time. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
7. Be patient
Persevere through the challenge. Hang in there and don’t give up. The Bible has a lot to say about persevering through suffering. It is there, in the hard place, that we learn the character of God is true, his promises are trustworthy, and we grow resilient and strong. Don’t just pray for the challenge to be over; pray for the lesson to be learned well. Know that God is with you and trust Him in the waiting.
God knew that worry would be a challenge for us. Jesus reassures us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). I pray that you will put these disciplines into practice, trust God with your worries, and be free to love and live.
Christine is a wife and mother of three adult kids, who lives in an apartment full of potted plants and drinks more coffee than she’d like to admit. Christine works full time in ministry at her church and writes about faith, self-care, and simple living in her blog, Living with Margins. For more blogs from her, click here. For more on taking every thought captive, listen to our series Captive-Taking Control of our Thought Life. You can listen to our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio. We’re now also on Spotify!