Even the Best Worry

Because of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, some folks have taken to the idea that worrying is somehow abnormal for the Christian. However, why would Jesus say something about worry unless it was a common affliction? Here’s what He started with:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? – Matthew 6:25, ESV

The verses that follow present a case of God’s provision. Jesus was telling us not to worry, and He provided us with facts to give us confidence and comfort that there was a way to deal with worry. However, the fact that He was addressing worry and anxiety to His disciples (see Matthew 5:1) indicates that even those who walked with Jesus worried. After all, did we not see such worry when Jesus was arrested? Yes, we did. Worry is a normal emotion. Having anxiety is a part of life. Jesus was cautioning against was excessive worry – worry that carries you away from your relationship with God and from life itself – but He was also giving us a way to deal with normal worry.

Paul understood this. He understood Jesus’ words. Even Paul acknowledged he had worries:

And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? – 2 Corinthians 11:28-29, ESV

Among other things, Paul worried for the churches he had helped found. Paul understood that he was weak. He knew that he could and would fail. So, yes, even Paul worried. Therefore, if its unchristian to worry, what do we do with Paul? Logically, it says the conclusion that “worry is unchristian” is a false one. We will worry.

Speaking of Paul, the context of his words in 2 Corithians 11 is amazing. He was talking of people boasting. He was reflecting on how some folks boasted of their credentials. Paul rightly pointed out that if anyone had reason to boast, Paul did. He concluded by saying that if he must boast, Paul would boast on his own weakness. Why? Paul had learned that in his weakness he tended to rely on God’s strength all the more. When he worried, he could turn towards the Lord, knowing God had everything under control. This is why Paul said he could be content in any circumstance (Philippians 4:10-12) and that’s why he concluded he could do anything through Christ, who provided him the strength to do so (Philippians 4:13).

Is there something worrying you? Realize that worry is a normal emotion. Not worrying is abnormal (as is excessive worrying). The question is, “What will you do with this worry?” Jesus told us that we shouldn’t worry because we have a Heavenly Father to rely on. Paul told us that he could deal with his anxieties because he found strength in God. When we worry, we can choose to keep it to ourselves and suffer for it. Or we can choose the way Jesus told us, which is to rely on God. Paul naturally found God’s way the better path. Which will you choose?

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