Your ten-year-old is worried. So anxious he can’t eat. So worried he can’t sleep. “What’s wrong?” you inquire. He shakes his head and moans, “I don’t even have a pension plan.”

Or your four-year-old is crying in bed. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?” She whimpers, “I’ll never pass college chemistry.”

Your eight-year-old’s face is stress-struck. “I’ll be a rotten parent. What if I set a poor example for my kids?”

How would you respond to such statements? Besides calling a child psychologist, your response would be emphatic: “You’re too young to worry about those things. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.”

Fortunately, most kids don’t have such thoughts.

Unfortunately, we adults have more than our share. Worry is the burlap bag of burdens. It’s overflowing with “whaddifs” and “howells.” “Whaddif it rains at my wedding?” “Howell I know when to discipline my kids?” “Whaddif I marry a guy who snores?” “Howell we pay our baby’s tuition?” “Whaddif, after all my dieting, they learn that lettuce is fattening and chocolate isn’t?”

The burlap bag of worry. Cumbersome. Chunky. Unattractive. Scratchy. Hard to get a handle on. Irritating to carry and impossible to give away. No one wants your worries.

The truth be told, you don’t want them either. No one has to remind you of the high cost of anxiety. (But I will anyway.) Worry divides the mind. The biblical word for worry (merimnao) is a compound of two Greek words, merizo (“to divide”) and nous (“the mind”). Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. Part of our mind is on the now; the rest is on the not yet. The result is half-minded living.

That’s not the only result. Worrying is not a disease, but it causes diseases. It has been connected to high blood pressure, heart trouble, blindness, migraine headaches, thyroid malfunctions, and a host of stomach disorders.

Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Jesus said, “You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it” (Matt. 6:27). Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease.

How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, “Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?” To which the man responded, “That’s your worry.”

Sadly, worrying is one job you can’t farm out, but you can overcome it. There is no better place to begin than in verse two of the shepherd’s psalm.

“He leads me beside the still waters,” David declares. And, in case we missed the point, he repeats the phrase in the next verse: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”


This article excerpted from Traveling Light.

Traveling Light is available on Amazon, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service.

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