January is the perfect time of year for worrying. It's a fresh new year, full of hope and possibilities, including the possibility of all the things that might go wrong in 2017.
Sure, everyone breathed a sigh of relief that 2016 finally ended. But haven't they realised that 2017 could be even worse? There's so much to worry about!
Here's why we should be worried
I took the liberty of taking some time to think about things worth worrying about. Here are some in no particular order (and no particular personal relevance);
- Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America (enough said)
- Is my job secure? Will I have a job at the end of this year? In five years' time?
- Will I ever own a home or pay off my mortgage? What if I fall into financial difficulty and lose my home?
- Am I safe where I live? What if I get robbed or carjacked?
- Will I ever have children?
- What if I end up single for my whole life?
- Am I raising my children right? Do they watch too much TV? Am I feeding them the right food? Will they grow up to be respectful adults, decent members of society? Will they fall prey to peer pressure, addiction or other vices? What if they have an accident and end up physically or mentally incapacitated in some way?
- Do I have enough superannuation? How will I retire? Who will look after me?
- Will this family conflict ever be resolved? What do I do so everyone is happy again?
- Am I loved? Do people secretly judge and dislike me?
- Will wars in the world ever cease? What if terrorism gets worse?
- Climate change is a bit of an issue. Am I doing enough? Anything?
And I could go on, or you could add your own worries to this list, in case I wasn't exhaustive enough!
Quite honestly though, worrying sucks. It's so draining to live with worry, anxiety and fear in the background of your life, underlining everything you do.
It can even make you physically ill.
How can we deal with worry?
What are the options then?
Well, we either face our worries, avoid them, fix them, replace them or give them away.
You might simply listen to Swedish House Mafia's song, 'Don't you worry, child' and feel better. That's great! Or 'Don't worry, be happy.'
According to some songs, all you need to do is 'Smile!' (though your heart is aching...) or just 'Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag' and, wait for it ... 'smile!' Yeah, try telling that to parents sitting next to their child in intensive care.
Or you might practise mindfulness, positive thinking exercises, meditations on gratitude and counting your blessings. You might set goals too that help you tackle the worry and solve the problem behind them.
Stopping worry seems impossible – it keeps coming back
Stopping worry is pretty hard though. For while we might solve one problem or stop worrying about one particular issue, there always seems to be something else popping up. Rather like playing a big game of Whack a Mole.
What I want most of all is for worry to disappear. To be able to go to someone and say, 'Here are all the things I'm worried about. Can you please deal with them? Fix them? Help me cope with them without the anxiety and fear that is underlying them?'
Can I please swap my worry for lasting peace?
And I don't just want these worries to go away and leave me feeling hollow. I want to do an exchange. Worry for peace. Anxiety for hope. Fear for joy.
That's why I take my worries to God. He's big enough to deal with them.
Biblical tips to stop the worry
Jesus himself pointed out what a waste of time it is to be worried or anxious about anything;
Matthew chapter 6, verses 25-27: 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?'
In fact, if anyone in the world should worry the least, it should be Christians. Not because life is all roses and sunshine (often it's harder – think of those persecuted Christians in the Middle East) but, to put it simply, because God himself tells us not to worry, and gives us very good reasons why we can ditch our anxieties.
Instead of worrying and brooding, the best thing you can do is turn to God Himself.
'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.' (Philippians chapter 4, verses 6-7)
With this in mind, I hope and pray that you and I can face 2017 with hope and peace in our hearts—even if it turns out to be a worse year than 2016!
Sarah Urmston lives in Toowoomba with her husband, Stephen. She loves God, her family, writing, colouring in, crochet, and creating lists. Sarah works full-time at home and seeks to faithfully serve Jesus in many different ways using the time she's given.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html