Enemy of Faith: Worry
Living faith is essential to a growing relationship with God. But the Bible lists dangerous enemies that attack our faith—such as worry.
The author of the book of Hebrews was inspired to devote a whole chapter to the subject of faith (Hebrews 11), and he stated categorically that without faith no one can please God (verse 6).
It should be obvious, then, that having faith is crucial to one’s relationship with God, as well as to his or her own spiritual growth.
There are four things listed in Scripture that are enemies of faith. In other words, if someone harbors any one of these negative characteristics, his or her faith could be severely stunted or perhaps nullified all together.
Worry: enemy No. 1
In this blog post we’ll look at the first enemy of faith—anxious thought or worry.
“Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30, emphasis added throughout).
Jesus tells us that those who worry have little faith. Why would He say that? Why would worry be an enemy of faith? He explains in the next two verses:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).
God is not unaware of our needs, and if He has committed Himself to providing them for us, why should we worry about them? If we trust in God to provide our needs, then we must let Him do it in His time and in His way. There is no need to become trapped in a lifestyle of worry.
The effects of worry
Many studies have been done on worry and its companions, stress and anxiety. Their effects on our health and state of mind have been well documented. One such article appeared some years ago in Psychology Today:
“Anxiety is part of the package of life. It’s a natural byproduct of having a brain that is capable of such high-wire acts as considering the future. A little anxiety is good, even necessary, and a great motivator to get us to plan well and to perform ably. Yet too much anxiety can be disabling.
“For millions of people, worry disrupts everyday life, restricting it to some degree or even overshadowing it entirely. An estimated 15 percent of Americans suffer from one or another of the anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and flat-out panic attacks. As a group, anxiety disorders constitute the most common disorder in the country” (“When Worry Takes Control,” Psychology Today).
What can we do about worry?
It’s easy to see how a lifestyle of worry can nullify faith, given what we just read. Worry is directed inward. External events may be the triggers that bring on our worries, but the worrying is internal. However, our worrying can result in our taking action against something or someone, and those actions could cause serious repercussions.
Worry, or anxious thought, is something that affects us personally, and it affects our relationship with God and other humans. Only we can do something about it. What can we do?
Jesus tells us, “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:34). In most cases that is easier said than done, but here are some valuable tips.
- Pray. If we find ourselves starting to worry about something, we should say a prayer to God and ask Him to help us change our thoughts to something more positive and to take away the anxiety. Even if it is only a short prayer while on the way to work or while eating lunch, if we are seeking to please Him, God will hear and He will answer. We just have to trust Him and have faith in His power and the fact that He has our best interests at heart.
- Study the Bible and apply its lessons. Read and study passages in the Bible that discuss worry, anxiety and faith. The Psalms and Proverbs contain many helpful and inspiring passages. We can go to God with the book in our hands and ask Him to show us what to study. Ask Him for help to apply what we learn in order to eliminate anxiety, worry and stress from our minds and hearts.
- Take the long view. An expert on the subject offers this sage advice about putting things in perspective:
“Imagine that whatever circumstance you are dealing with isn’t happening right now but a year from now. Then simply ask yourself, ‘Is this situation really as important as I’m making it out to be?’ Once in a great while it may be—but a vast majority of the time, it simply isn’t. Whether it be an argument with your spouse, child, or boss, a mistake, a lost opportunity, a lost wallet, a work-related rejection, or a sprained ankle, chances are, a year from now you aren’t going to care. It will be one more irrelevant detail in your life” (Richard Carlson, Ph.D., Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff, p. 45).
Overcoming worry isn’t going to be easy, especially if it has been a growing problem for a long time; but we can make it a daily goal not to give in to worry and instead to focus on God’s love and care for us.
You see, just as worry is a foe of faith, faith is also a foe of worry!
This is the first in a four part series on Enemies of Faith. For part 2 in this series, see “Enemy of Faith: Fear.”
Read more about living faith in the section on “Faith: Believing and Pleasing God.”