How can I overcome my tendency to worry and instead gain confidence about the future?

How can I overcome my tendency to worry and instead gain confidence about the future?

We must learn to rely on God's promises. The following helps you know how to do that.

Joshua could have spent a lot of time worrying. With enemies to conquer, rivers to cross, in-house problems to solve, and land to divide fairly, many people depended on him for their safety and well-being. But before Joshua had embarked on the task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, God had spoken to him in the strongest possible way about ridding his life of fear and worry. He said, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you … Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (1:5,9).

By the end of his life, Joshua was able to talk about overcoming worry by believing in God's faithfulness to his promises. Every time Joshua acted on faith rather than fear, God came through with everything Joshua needed to accomplish God's purposes.

God has made the same promise to you that he made to Joshua—and more (see Hebrews 13:5). As you familiarize yourself with the promises of God found in Scripture, allowing them to sink into your soul so they become your deepest reality, you'll increasingly respond to life circumstances with faith rather than fear. You'll begin to recognize more and more ways that God has come through for you—and your faith will grow. (See also Psalm 91; Micah 5:2-5; Habakkuk 3:16-19; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-9.)

Joshua 23:14 says, "Not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you." To help you do this, write down five ways God has come through for you over the past year.

See God as your Savior, not as a saboteur.

How do you view God? Is he out to get you or out to save you?

Sometimes we develop wrong ideas about God. We see God as a sleeping giant (distant and inattentive), a grouch (ruining a good time), an occasional visitor (nice when he comes), a cosmic cop (walks around pouncing on people), or a dirty trickster (changing the rules all the time).

None of those images represent God. Instead, God can be compared to a powerful bird spreading his wings to shield us, a strong city wall, or a dispatcher of angels (91:4, 11). With this kind of God, you don't have to fear weapons, diseases, darkness, disasters, or wild animals. He offers protection. Your part is to understand who God is and to accept him as the guarantor of your safety. (See also Joshua 23:14-16; Micah 5:2-5; Habakkuk 3:16-19; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-9.)

Psalm 91:1 says, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Know what's been and watch for what's coming.

Worry isn't always bad; you simply have to let it lead you to action. If you don't spend time thinking about what bothers you, you won't find out what God wants you to do about it.

Perhaps you worry about insignificance. You wonder if your actions in your little corner of the world make any difference. Remember, Jesus was born in a humanly insignificant town named Bethlehem. But by God's standards, it was very significant because he chose to be born there. And one day, this same Jesus will come again to personally take you to heaven!

Let Micah 5:2 remind you that your smallest action frequently carries eternal significance. Your care for your family members, students, or coworkers will impact the way they treat others, which impacts the way those others treat their families, students, and coworkers. You can change this world for or against Jesus through small-by-this-world actions that carry eternal-by-God's-Word significance. (See also Joshua 23:14-16; Psalm 91; Habakkuk 3:16-19; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-9.)

Trust God to give you strength.

If you're a chronic worrier, you probably use a lot of tricks to keep from getting buried in fear. One trick may be to ask, "What's the worst-case scenario in this particular situation?" With that image fresh in your mind, you plot how you'd deal with the outcome. After that, any lesser harm seems simple. But it's still worrisome. Chronic worriers have a hard time actually letting go of their worries.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 shows us that a message from God can be not just a worry but a promise—from God. His country was going to be destroyed. Habakkuk pictured how his country would look: the barren fields, the dead trees, the empty animal stalls. He might have waved his arms and cried, "I can't take it; let me die before this happens." But he didn't.

Instead, Habakkuk sang a prayer of praise to God. He recounted God's past goodness in rescuing his people (3:12). He told God how his fears made him feel: "Rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself" (3:16). Then he described the worst-case scenario—and sang of his committed trust in God.

Worriers, take heart. Even when the worst happens, God will give you strength. (See also Joshua 23:14-16; Psalm 91; Micah 5:2-5; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:4-9.)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, "Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; he will make my feet like deer's feet, and he will make me walk on my high hills."

What's your worst-case scenario? If you trust God, how might your perspective change?

Do what you can in a single day.

Have you ever felt as if worry about something really did help? Maybe you feel as if it earns you a positive outcome to a difficult situation. After all, you worked hard by worrying, so it should turn out well. Or you're a Murphy's Law buff and think that if you always plan for the worst, it won't happen.

But worrying not only ties you up emotionally, it hurts your relationship with God. By worrying, you're saying you're in control of circumstances, that you can manipulate the situation with your worry. In truth, God's in charge. While it can be hard to trust him to work for your good, trust is hard work that pays off. You'll experience a peace in difficult situations that equips you to respond better.

Trusting God also helps to limit your "worry" to what can be done today. Maybe all that can be done today is to greet someone civilly, eat a healthy dinner, or pay the one bill you do have money for. Figure out what you can do today and do it; then turn the rest over to God. (See also Joshua 23:14-16; Psalm 91; Micah 5:2-5; Habakkuk 3:16-19; Philippians 4:4-9.)

Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).

Turn your worries into conversation with God.

For many of us, being told "Don't worry" is easier said than done! Worry is one way we express our concern. While it's hard to keep worry from coming to our door, we can transform it into prayer instead of inviting it in. Philippians 4:4-9 gives the elements of this transformation process:

  1. Focus on gladness. Because of Jesus, there's always something to be glad about (4:4).
  2. Let people be your priority. What action will bring good to others both now and in the future? Choose that gentle and future-looking action (4:5).
  3. Recognize worry. It's a concern that goes pointlessly round and round. Stop the cycle by pointing your concern toward God (4:6).
  4. Let Jesus show you what to do about your worry—and give you the peace, "which surpasses all understanding" (4:7).

When your loved one has cancer, you don't just sit and pray; you pray as you seek the best medical treatment available—medical treatment God himself has provided. Then you relax, knowing God has directed you to the resources that will fight the illness. It's a peace that can "guard" your heart and mind. (See also Joshua 23:14-16; Psalm 91; Micah 5:2-5; Habakkuk 3:16-19; Matthew 6:25-34.)

Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Why not focus on praise rather than worry?

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