Last night as I lay awake actively worrying, I turned on my radio and stuck it up next to my ear so only I could hear it and there was Chuck Swindoll's voice teaching about worry. It couldn't have been more providential. His radio program, Insight for Living, is running the most popular teachings from the last year, and I'm not even slightly surprised this is one of them.
I know when I worry I'm sinning. I'm not trusting the Lord to handle whatever has me so concerned. I feel like I have to unravel the knot or solve the code or insert the missing pieces, but that never works. It only makes things worse. Let's face it, have you ever really solved a problem you were worrying about at 2:00 in the morning? I haven't.
I found a transcript of part of what Pastor Chuck said and want to share it with you. It's certainly helped to clarify my mind on worry.
“I worry when I add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
I worry when I add . . . . when I add more things to an already full schedule; when I add pressure to my image, thinking my image and my reputation are involved in this. I worry when I add your expectations to my agenda. I worry when I have to live up to what you want me to be. There’s enough ‘Otter’ in me to want to please you and therefore there’s enough worry in me to haunt me when I don’t. I don’t want your criticism, but I receive it and I worry because I don’t fulfill your expectations of me as a man, as a pastor, as a teacher, as a friend, as a model . . . . and I want you to know I’ve put that to rest because that makes me angry. . . . angry at me, angry at you, angry at God, angry at life, angry at ministry. I worry when I add to what I already have to be (and I confess to you it is my own addition. . . it’s not yours). So I will live as best I can the balance of my life worrying less—I hope to come to the place someday where I can say worrying not at all—about what you think or whether it fulfills what you want in me. I have to please my God with the time and energy and gifts that I have been given. For me to add more to that is to make more of life than it was designed to be, and I will be an anxious man. I worry when I add.
Second. . .I worry when I subtract . . . when I subtract God’s presence from my crisis; when I subtract His timing from my desires; when I subtract prayer from my day; when I subtract perspective from the moment of difficulty. . . every time, I worry. If I miss the perspective that anxiety strangles from me, I find that I am caught up in doubt—that makes me doubt. Peter Marshall has a great line in one of his prayers as he refers to doubt coming “like the morning frost to blight my faith.” Isn’t that put well? “Doubt comes like the morning frost and it blights my faith.” When I forget . . .when I subtract God’s presence from this accident that I had, or may have; when I subtract God’s presence from this calamity, this piece of bad news, I worry. When I subtract God’s presence from my grown children’s lives I worry about my children, and it makes me doubt.
Third. . . When I multiply . . . when I multiply my problems by inserting my solutions too rapidly I worry, ‘cause they don’t work; when I look for a way out instead of the way through; when I multiply my fears with imagination. You may not do this, but I do it. It’s what I call my “what if statements”, my “but maybes” or “this could happen” line. “What if they think this”; “maybe that will happen, too”, and that makes me afraid. When I multiply I become afraid because it gets enormous enough to be the monster with claws.
And fourth. . . I worry when I divide . . . when I divide life into the secular and sacred; when I divide my day into thinking this is the Lord’s part and this is my own business. And that makes me forget. . . .
I worry when I add, and it makes me angry. I worry when I subtract, and it makes me doubt. I worry when I multiply, and it makes me afraid. I worry when I divide, and it makes me forget. . . .
What is of such great comfort to me and is perhaps the best antidote for worry in my life is to remember and to remind myself, who’s in charge here? Who’s in control, after all, on this road of life?
What is it that has you anxious? When you identify it now, do you think He’s not big enough to take that thing?”
So I add this Scripture to remind myself of who God is.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:21-24
It gives me a different picture.