What Good is Worry?

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2016 25 Oct

a purple alarm clock shows 11:55

I don’t think it’s possible to eliminate every shred of worry from our lives. Maybe someone on planet Earth has found a way to stop worrying forever, but I have yet to meet the person. Having said this, I think it is both advisable and possible to reduce the amount of worry we feel.

Let’s look at why worry is problematic. First, worry transports you away from reality and into your imagination. Though your anxiety may have sprouted from something concrete, it quickly leads to a make-believe world in which the dragons and demons you face will seem far bigger, fiercer, and more numerous than they are.

Second, God deals in reality. Worrying catapults you into a future that may never happen, but it is in the present that you need God’s grace.

Third, though worry can instigate a search for solutions, chronic worrying rarely, if ever, results in anything helpful. (Ask yourself whether you have ever felt glad that you worried and fretted about something.)

Fourth, as Chuck Swindoll points out, “We worry when we subtract God’s presence from our crises.” It’s hard to feel peaceful if you think God is absent just when you need him most.

You can probably come up with your own list of reasons why worry is problematic. Perhaps our goal should not be to eliminate every atom of worry from our lives but to use it for a good purpose. In that case, worry could function like an alarm clock, warning us that we need to pray about something or do something in order to address a problem. Just as we wouldn’t let an alarm clock keep ringing once it’s done the job of prying us out of bed, we shouldn’t let the worry alarm keep sounding once it’s woken us to the need to take our concerns to the Lord. Instead of letting worry become a way of life, let’s think of anxious feelings as a call to prayer and action, based on the wisdom God gives.


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