What is your reaction when people tell you not to worry about something? Maybe you feel like saying, “That’s easy for you to say, but I can’t help worrying about it!”
All of us worry about things from time to time – some of us more than others. Some seem to not be “happy” unless they are worrying and stressing over a myriad of issues, most of which never come to pass.
That’s why a study note related to 1 Peter 5:7 from the ESV Study Bible jumped out at me recently. The full sentence of the biblical text includes verses 6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” The study notes for verse 7 then include the following statement: “Worry is a form of pride because it involves taking concerns upon oneself instead of entrusting them to God. Believers can trust God because, as their Father, he cares for them.” I had to stop and chew on the thought that worry is a form of pride. I had never considered that before.
The words from the Apostle Peter coincide well with the words of Jesus in Luke 12:22-31:
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried (emphasis mine). For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (ESV)
Jesus does not command us to do that which is impossible. In the above passage, he clearly tells his children not to worry, but to trust our heavenly Father for what we need (not necessarily what we want). In light of this command, and in light of considering worry as evidence of pride that we are trying to handle what is rightly God’s to deal with, we can’t get away with excusing worry by saying “I can’t help worrying about it.” We can help it, because we can place those anxieties on the shoulders of the One who is far more capable of bearing them than we are. In a sense, we need to just stop it.
And because it wouldn’t be right to have a post called “Don’t Worry” without this, here is a video of Bobby McFerrin singing Don’t Worry, Be Happy. I’m not sure how theologically sound it is, but it’s closer to Jesus’ teaching than pridefully worrying about things he said not to worry about.