“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – Matthew 6:27
In December of 2006, as each week brought news of yet another publisher who had decided to take a pass on a book I had poured a year of my life and left a well-paying corporate job to write, I found myself deeply discouraged and increasingly worried.
Was it a colossal mistake to leave my corporate job? Was it really God’s call on my life that I sensed moving me to write and teach about biblical money management full time, or was it simply something I wanted to do? And, if the book doesn’t get published, will I be able to provide for my wife and two young sons? (Less than two years later, we would have a third child.)
In the midst of one particularly discouraging day, my wife recited the question asked in Matthew 7:9-10. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” She reminded me that God calls us his children. He loves us and wants the best for us. His timing may be a bit different than ours, but the plans he has for us are good.
The words felt like such a warm embrace that I couldn’t speak. They were at once so reassuring, and so humbling. In my worry I had doubted God’s promise to provide for us. Even worse, I had doubted his love for me.
At around the same time, I remember reading an article in USA TODAY that reported on a new study showing that people who worry a lot may have higher blood pressure and heart rates, less effective immune systems, more stress and depression, and perhaps even shorter life spans. It turns out that not only does excessive worry not extend our lives; it can actually shorten them.
Financial concerns are a prime source of worry for many people. A recent study found that about two-thirds of adults are anxious about being able to pay their bills and other expenses.
Researchers quoted in the USA TODAY article suggested exercising and listening to classical music to reduce worry. While there is certainly value in such activities, the Bible’s solution is a bit different: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Whenever we find ourselves worrying about something, that’s a good time to stop and ask ourselves whether we’ve taken it to God. Have we prayed about it? Have we asked others to pray for us? Have we meditated on the truth of God’s word?
And it’s a good time to remind ourselves of who it is we’re praying to: our heavenly father who is not only willing to take on our concerns, but wants to. As Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).