Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Luke 12:22)Worry – about the present
Anxiety – about the future
Regret – about the past
What kind of war are we fighting? Worry over jobs? Distress over the economy? Anxiety over the future? If we were to be really honest with ourselves, we will realize that a sizable amount of our worries and anxieties revolve around material gains or losses. It centers around the visible and tangible things of life. We worry about whether we can keep our jobs, fearing that we may not be able to bring in enough money to pay the monthly rental or regular housing installments. We worry for our children’s education thinking that if they do not have the educational qualifications, how then can they get a good job next time? We worry about our wealth as it is the key to living a comfortable and good life. We worry about our health, so that we are able enough to work and to bring in an income to feed the family. It could also be exams or tests that we have been preparing for. Some will worry about not getting enough distinctions to be selected for a scholarship. Others will worry about whether they can pass and not disappoint their loved ones. In these dark economic times, it is easy to lose our perspective on what kind of war we ought to fight. Worry is essentially the lack of confidence in the systems available around us. From governments to large corporations, from religious institutions to small support groups, from personal friends to close family members, our worries tempt us to criticize and judge them beyond the boundaries of fairness. Anxiety about the future is the other twin brother of worry, giving us false ideas and negative thoughts about uncertainty and fear of tomorrow. Rounding it all up, when we fight the wrong war, we stand to REGRET not having done enough in the past. Unfortunately, by worrying and becoming anxious, we only pile up more items in our storeroom of regret! Spiritually, our acts of worry and anxiety are like multiple votes of no-confidence in the promises of a loving Father. Our fretfulness about our present and future insecurity only reflects a pathetic soul that does not believe what Jesus said. With Worry, Anxiety and finally Regret, we become useless soldiers already defeated even before the first spiritual bullet has been shot.
Wake up. Rise up men and women of God. If you have been living a life of worry, anxiety and regret, it is time to stop that train on the way to spiritual destruction, and change tracks. Take the path of Christ beginning with prayer. Dallas Willard said that prayer is likened to a vote of no-confidence in our flesh and human capabilities. In order to begin arming ourselves for the right spiritual war, we need to stop fighting wrong wars. We have to invest our limited energies and resources on faith, hope and love as anchored in the cross of Christ. Any resources spent on worry, anxiety and regret will only lead us into a never-ending rabbit’s hole of despair. Let me suggest three ways to counter the negative effects of worry, anxiety and regret.
ARMING OURSELVES FOR THE RIGHT WAR
W – Waiting on God
In prayer, we counter worry by continuing our trust and to wait on God for his ultimate deliverance. The challenges of the present and the uncertainties of the future is never really for us to worry about.
A – Attentiveness on God by first turning away from non-gods
Simone Weil said that “to believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is to decide not to give our love to false gods.” While it is important to learn to focus on God, often, the first thing we must do is to turn away from false gods and idols. By worry, anxiety and regret, we are essentially concentrating on false gods. If we are not careful, our very own concerns can become a god in themselves.
R – Rest
Put to rest the history of regret and past disappointments. Such things do nothing positive for us. Every thought of ‘it should have been better’ must be quickly neutralized with ‘it could have been worse.’ Offer both thoughts to God and learn to rest in the arms of a loving Father who says to us:
“It’s ok. It’s alright. Come to me, you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Replace worry about the world with an attitude of waiting for God. Substitute any anxiety with an attentiveness toward God and the thoughts of God. By not dedicating our souls on idols and worldly affairs, we prepare our hearts for paying attention to the movement of God in our lives. Slaughter any thoughts of regret and let God redeem us through Resting in Him. Rise up, soldier of Christ and train yourself for the right war, by first getting out of the wrong one.