Making A Growth Industry of Worry

By Dr. Harold J. Sala

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

There are several subjects about which almost everybody is a specialist.  Certainly politics is one.  Religion is another.  And to that list, we should add “worry,” because most of us have had a good deal of personal experience with the subject.

In recent days “worry” has become a growth industry.  Our inability to cope with worry sends people to psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors.  Searching for an answer to the problem, thousands of people have bought into a vast rainbow of cures, ranging from pop psychology and new age teaching to self-help books. Today, there is a wide spectrum of proposed “solutions” from cults to Bible-oriented teaching.

Just this week an envelope came in the mail with inch-and-a-half red letters reading, “HANDLE STRESS!”  The contents reflected a cleverly written mass-marketing approach to mind control which is being widely touted by a pseudo-religious group.  The advertising stressed the claim that applying the principles of this book would bring “confidence in yourself,” “happy, lasting relationships,” and help you to overcome the problems you worry about.  No wonder the group pushing this has gone to the bank pushing wheelbarrows of money.

Sadly enough, scores of people buy into all sorts of ideologies which only leave them in worse shape, at least financially, than they were before they reached out for help. The real answer to worry isn’t in “buying” but in “believing.”  It’s within–not without.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that there are not times when your life may become so troubled that you need professional help.  But I am saying that God has given us resources which directly confront the issues that crease our brow.  There are no new secrets, no new mind-bending techniques that eliminate problems and frustrations in life.  There are some old, but seldom used, guidelines which we need to rediscover.

When you have time to take a Bible concordance and look up the references to anxiety or worry, you will see that two primary spokesmen addressed the issue:  Jesus, especially in a passage of teaching which we identify as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and the Apostle Paul.  Jesus said more about worry than all the other writers of Scripture put together.

He said we are not to worry about the major concerns of life:  Your diet (what you are going to eat or drink); your body (whether or not you remain healthy); and your environmental need: what you wear and where you live (see Matthew 6:25-34). He also said that Jesus’ followers should not worry about what they should say, when antagonism against them should put them in conflict with government authorities (see Matthew 10:19).  He told Martha that she was “worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41).

But it was Paul, the theologian of the New Testament and the second most vocal spokesman, who drew a clear line between worry and anxiety.  What’s the difference?  Anxiety, Paul taught, is concern over legitimate issues such as your health or safety or concern about your family, while worry is the persistent, nagging debilitating concern over something which robs you of peace of mind.

Worry is a decision, a bad one which never solves anything.  There is a better way, one which you can read about in God’s textbook on living. There are some great antidotes to worry, great chapters in this grand, old book, the Bible.

Try reading Psalm 23 out loud and then worry.  Read Isaiah 40, and ask yourself if God is big enough to handle your problem.  Meditate on Romans 8 and see if you don’t sleep better.  There is a better solution to problems than worry.

Resource reading: Matthew 6:25-34.

 

Dr. Harold J. Sala, well known speaker, author and Bible teacher, has served as founder and President of Guidelines International, Inc., since 1963. He is the featured speaker on the daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” which is broadcast on over 1000 radio stations around the world and translated in over 15 languages. Author of over 40 books published in various languages and hundreds of publications. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

Used with permission from Guidelines Philippines, Inc. To learn more about Guidelines and the ministry, please write to Box 4000, 1280 Makati City, Philippines or e-mail address box4000@guidelines.org. You may also visit the Guidelines website at www.guidelines.org.

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