What to do with worry.

I am often asked, “Bro. Robby, is it a sin to worry?”
 
My answer is always, “Well, that depends.” If by worry you mean to feel concerned over an issue, then no, worry is not a sin. Feelings are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. Feelings are just feelings. God gives us feelings to help us discern what we need to ask Him for or thank Him for.
 
Your feelings are your emotional senses, not unlike your physical senses. You have the gift of taste to alert you to what is sweet or sour and even to warn you about what might be poisonous. You have the sense of touch that allows you to feel the warm embrace of a friend and also to remind you to remove your hand from a hot stove. The sense of hearing allows you to enjoy the tones and rhythms of your favorite songs on the radio and also alerts you to the ambulance in the next lane, speeding to a 9-1-1 call. Smell enables you to take in the pleasant aroma of your flower garden and helps you to know when your house is on fire.
 
Just as your physical senses help you to navigate the physical realm, your feelings help you in the emotional realm. Do you feel happy? Then you should give thanks to God. Do you feel sad? Then you should ask Him for comfort. If you are afraid, then ask for strength. If you are confused, then ask for wisdom.
 
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). As soon as you have that feeling of concern, you should take that concern, wrap it in thanksgiving, and send it up to the Lord in prayer. Pray some form of, “Lord, I thank you for the privilege of prayer… what you are doing and what I know you will do. I thank you for being the all-powerful God that you are. Here is this thing that I am concerned about. Thank you for hearing my prayer.”
 
Praying in this way is like planting a seed. Through prayer, you plant your concern into the fertile field of faith. Then, God transforms your worry into something beautiful that bears fruit. I say this because, in the next verse, Paul says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Do you understand? The fruit that grows out of prayer is the peace of God that goes beyond all understanding.
 
The root of the Greek verb in “Guard your hearts and minds,” comes from the word that means “to watch.” An armed security detail assigned to watch over your thoughts and your feelings is what Paul has in mind here. The peace of God will not allow you to think unhelpful thoughts, but will instead lead you to rejoice in the Lord and how He brings glory to Himself through your suffering.
 
I have a friend and a church member who raises sheep. If you ride by his sheep pen, the first thing you notice is not the sheep, but the Great Pyrenes guard dogs there to protect them. These dogs look like monsters compared to the sheep in the field. They are there to eat the predators who would want to eat the sheep. The guard dogs look like they would tear you limb from limb if you hopped over the fence into the pen.
 
The peace of God that results from thankful prayer protects the heart and the mind in the same way the Great Pyrenes protects his sheep. The peace of God is a formidable opponent against the predators of doubts and fears that threaten our faith in Jesus. We are assured beyond all understanding because the peace of God keeps the doubts at bay.
 

So what are you to do with worry? Wrap it in thanksgiving and send it up to the Lord in prayer. To pray with thanksgiving is to plant worry in the fertile field of faith where it can be transformed into something beautiful, which yields the fruit of peace. That peace then stands guard to keep you from further worry and leads you to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of your suffering.