Are you feeling overwhelmed these days? I am, and it's causing me to waste a lot of time "borrowing trouble."
Borrowing trouble happens when we think about all of the awful things that might happen. Today, I find myself worrying about American culture and politics, the church, my family, the weather, and what's in the refrigerator. It doesn't matter if it's big or small issue, I can lose sleep over it. What if? What if? What if?
I fight this all too human urge to "borrow trouble" because it is a colossal waste of time. Jesus said:
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:31-34)
This isn't a call to ignore real problems but to put things in perspective. When Jesus tells us not to worry about eating, he isn't telling us to just sit back and wait for someone else to feed us. He is telling us to put God first and do our part as well. Jesus said:
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:28-33)
What are you worrying about today? What can you do about it? In my days as a nursing home administrator, I would try to anticipate problems so that I didn't have to run around putting out "fires." Crises will happen anyway, so I worked hard to avoid the ones I could.
Here's another example. I live in Florida. Hurricanes are a part of life. I could get all worked up and watch the Weather Channel 24/7 every time a storm approaches, or I could stock up on food, water and supplies, have a plan to evacuate, and check on the status of the storm every few hours. Then, when a storm comes my way, I'm as prepared as I can be.
But what happens when one of life's storms comes unexpectedly? I'm thinking here of my sister-in-law Kate's accident. Again, thanks for your prayers. Do those who love her worry about what her future holds? Absolutely. And our concern doesn't have us cowering in a corner but is motivating us to help. We are doing what we can by praying for her, encouraging her and doing the things she can't. Kate is focusing on what she can do by working hard in therapy. Somedays I have to remind myself that this struggle is like eating an elephant....we can only do it one bite at a time. But do it we will!
What are you worrying about today? Do you worry about retirement? Start saving. Do you worry about your health? Go for a walk. Do you worry about what Congress is up to? Call your Senator or Representative. Do what is in your control to do.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, don't allow worry to consume you. Look to God for guidance and then do what you can. And if you are worrying about something over which you can have absolutely no control or influence - let it go and trust God. I may sometimes "borrow trouble" but I never despair because God is always with me. Hope is always in my heart. And then when crises hit, and they will come, I can face them with strength and calm.
My advice: stop worrying about things you have no control over and concentrate on the things you can do something about. Focusing on what you can control, rather than what you can't, will help you turn despair into hope and anxiety into peace.
Andy Stanley offered a great prayer that goes something like this: "Heavenly Father, help me see trouble coming long before it gets here. Then give me courage and wisdom to handle it. Amen."