Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
Honestly answer this: When you are faced with the type of things that cause you to worry even a little, is your actual first response to those worries to 'worry' or 'pray'? Honestly, I think most of us might admit it is to worry, then to pray when we finally realize we are worrying! The Apostle Paul experienced some rather tough trials in his time in service to the Lord. He was jailed, brought before magistrates to give an account for his actions, engaged with others in ministry that had a hard time getting along with each other, and he faced physical ailments in his body...just to name a few of the things that might have caused him just a little bit of worry. We are directed to live a life that is free of fretting and worrying. Instead of worrying - we are to pray. Okay, you are already saying, "Easier said than done." I am right there with you! I often struggle with the worrying long before I remember, or trust him enough, to turn it over to the Lord for his answer!
Fretting is a corrosive process - it affects us by gnawing away at the peace and faith we have, even when we think we have some 'anti-corrosive' barrier erected in our lives. The corroding effect of fretting on life's problems eventually eats a hole through our faith, exposing us to doubt, frustration, fear, etc. Fretting behavior is quite easy to recognize - it is a behavior that is marked by being even a little bit agitated. I know when I am in a fretting state when I look at my own inability to "settle down" and focus as I should or normally would in the situation. We are given a directive to 'not worry'. Why does scripture refer to the process of both fretting and worrying? Don't they have a similar meaning? Well, they are close, but worry carries with it the idea of causing yourself torment! In other words, you are "doing yourself in" by the behavior you are engaging in! Every move you make is like you are dragging yourself along, no energy or passion in the movement, just barely making progress at all. Your steps are tentative and extremely guarded.
The "antidote" to corrosive thoughts/actions and self-tormenting activities is supposedly prayer. Not just the "Dear God, please intervene..." kind of prayer, but a pouring out of our heart before God with the nitty-gritty stuff that has us "wigged out" in the first place. It is an acknowledgement that we aren't feeling very 'easy' over the situation. It is an intense opening up of ourselves to God in honest exposure of the things that are acting as a corrosive influence in our thought life. In so doing, there is this promise of an eventual "washing away" of the corrosiveness of fretting and worry, and a refreshing peace beginning to settle down in place of that corrosive thought pattern or activity we had previously been involved in.
Christ displaces worry at the center of our lives - amazing thought and a totally amazing action on our behalf! Don't lose sight of of the fact that when worry or fretting gets a foothold, Christ is displaced from the center of our lives - he becomes a second thought, definitely not our first. When we are honest about our struggles, we are asking Christ to come back to "center" in our lives - refocusing us on the one who IS peace and GIVES peace and BRINGS peace. So, the next time you find yourself a little agitated on the inside, or in a place of self-torment, perhaps the best thing to do is to turn your focus toward "center" again. As long as we keep Christ there, the corrosiveness of whatever life is dishing out will be lessened and the abundance of his grace will deliver us from the self-torment of our own fickle thoughts. Gotta love it! Just sayin!
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