The Sin of Worry
I was 8 years old, and I was REALLY into space, the planets, stars, astronauts, and all of that. One day, in one of my many books that I loved, I read that one day the sun would swell so large, that it would engulf the first few planets and we would all die. And when I say “one day,” I mean like millions of years from now. But for some reason, that fact really affected me, and I remember hiding under my toy desk, pulling the chair in, as if creating some sort of bunker for protection. I tearfully told my Mom about my fear, and she, trying really hard to not show any amusement in her response, said “but Ben, none of us will even be around when that happens.” That settled me down a bit, but I still thought about it every now and then. I’ve struggled with worry for as long as I can remember, and to the point of it actually making me sick. I think 9 out of 10 times the outcome that I was dreading doesn’t pan out at all, but I still cannot learn my lesson and just slow down, breathe, and be grateful. I also have an incredible support system, but I still continue to fight this battle. It wasn’t until college at Judson University, that a respected professor of mine said “your constant worry is actually offensive to God.” I definitely remember thinking “what in the world are you talking about!?” But once he lovingly explained, I understood exactly what he was getting at.
Matthew 6:25-34 is Jesus telling His disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Worry is a sin, and that is what my professor was referring to. If you are a worrying Christian, you are a sinning Christian. It doesn’t carry much weight with Jesus that He’s your first love, then you act like you can’t trust Him to look after you. Worry is a hideous sin to God because it is an indictment against Him, a slap at His love. So don’t worry, be hopeful. I started to try and slay the dragon of worry that had been in my way about 4 years ago. I was a counselor at a high school overnight camp for a week. And I was struggling mightily and secretly with feelings of inadequacy, and worry. To be honest, I felt completely fake, because I was supposed to be there for these kids and show them Christ’s teachings through my actions, but I was harboring so many struggles and concerns. There was one night in particular we were sharing with them the reality of the cross, and giving them the choice of accepting Jesus’ love, perhaps rededicating again, or basically not making that choice yet. It was during that night that I just felt so burdened by many things including job struggles, living in a very hard situation, and my marriage that I just finally decided to let go and surrender it all. I stood as tall as I could, outstretched my arms, and with me entire being told God “I surrender ALL of this junk to you. Fully, 100%. I cannot carry it anymore. I’m sorry for not relying on you, please take all of it and forgive me.” That was such a huge step for me, as someone who NEEDS to be in control and constantly struggles with the future and the unknown. God is not a genie or necessarily a wish granter, but He does hear the cry of our heart. Within a few weeks, solutions and positive outcomes started flowing in. A job offer came out of nowhere, which led to moving into a much nicer home closer to family, and many other struggles began to lift too.
I had to get real about my stuff, and my “stuff” was worry. And it still is from time to time, but I learned a lot from that journey. A relationship with God isn’t really all that meaningful if I try every possible combination of efforts before putting my faith in my Creator. Sometimes the outcome isn’t even close to what I was worried it would be, and honestly, sometimes it’s not the outcome I even want. But He is always faithful, and His ways are perfect. So let’s lean on hope, and not wallow in worry.