After all, it was the first day of my new job at a radio station in West Memphis, Arkansas. I told them that I’d take the job. It was a prime shift in the heart of the day.
I wanted the job, but I dreaded the trip. It was miles and miles of heavy traffic at high speeds for a relatively long distance, back and forth each day.
To make matters worse, it happened to be snowing on this February morning, making the trip seem even more ominous and difficult than usual. I began to drive toward the interstate, but the snow was blinding even at low speeds.
I went back home and called the station. I told them I’d need to wait a while until the snow stopped. An hour later, it was clearing. So I drove out again. This time I went all the way. But still, I was fearful and anxious.
Trucks were cutting in and out of lanes. High speeds, slick roads, brake lights, horns honking. I felt my jaw aching because I had been grinding my teeth in traffic, I guess without even knowing it. It was the pressure and tension of the road.
Mile after mile, I could feel the anxiety and worry building inside me. This was not something I wanted to do day after day. As I went to and from work, I prayed to God for safety… but I also did my share of worrying along the way.
One of the great debilitating problems that each of us must battle… is worry.
It’s a menace that drains its victims of their vitality. Our English word “worry” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means “to strangle”; worry certainly does strangle people physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Roger Babson rightly observed, “Worry is to life and progress what sand is to the bearings of perfect engines.”
In every life there are issues that seem to grind our gears, but get us nowhere. Worry is like rocking back and forth in a rocking chair; it gives us something to do, but it takes us nowhere.
We must be careful that we don’t confuse movement for progress, or mere action for advancement. Worry, like the rocking chair, represents movement and action, but not progress or advancement.
What’s worse, for Christians, worry reveals something detrimental about our understanding of God. It may, in fact, represent a misunderstanding about God.
With convicting insight, Oswald Chambers noted that “Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us.” I don’t want to believe this is true about my worry… but it is.
Now, most Christians would never admit this because we know and believe that God most certainly can look after us. That is, we know that God has the ability to look after us. But we may yet be haunted by the thought that He won’t… and for reasons we may never understand on this side of eternity.
After all, we’ve known of godly Christian people who have endured horrible tragedies in this life. They may even have maintained a rock-like faith that trusts God through the storm. But still they have suffered in ways that are hard to imagine… ways that beggar description.
And we see this and wonder, “Will God ask me to endure that same kind of heartbreaking tragedy… even though I know that He can provide for my needs?”
And so begins a sort of spiritual alchemy in which we mix together elements of faith and fear, elements of devotion and doubt. But they don’t mix well. In reality, one cancels out the other.
Somewhere, we seem to have adopted the erroneous idea that we can truly pray, so as to yield the situation completely to God… and yet continue worrying. Instead of engaging “prayer warriors” who are ready for battle, we’ve engaged a battalion of “prayer worriers”.
As Christians, we have a choice to make. God has given us something to do instead of worry. In the next few blogs, I want us to consider what we can learn from a study of Philippians 4:6-7 that can redefine the way we think of prayer in the face of our worries.