In the Bible, the original word translated as "worry", literally means "divided". It’s found in Luke chapter 10 in the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha, when He says to the frantic, busy, preoccupied Martha:
“Martha, Martha…you are worried [divided] and upset about many things” (v.41).
The word speaks of something that’s divided up that shouldn’t be divided up. Something that works better as a whole thing rather than multiple pieces. I like this word-picture because it’s so real. If our minds are divided and worried, full of doubt and fear, our lives become unclear and fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. This is exactly what happens when life throws us a curve ball, isn’t it? When we lose the game, when the bottom drops out of life, we figure that God’s gone and we’re helpless. We think He doesn’t really care and He’s not really in control:
“My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God” (Isa. 40:27)
So, what do we do? In our own worrying, we turn to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own resources and try to make things happen on our own, try and figure everything out on our own. What happens when we do this? Jesus talks about it in the Sermon on the Mount:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..” (Matt. 6:24,25).
You belong to God. He’s the Master. We’re the servants. If we try to make things happen on our own, amongst our own worrying and doubting, we are trying (and failing) to serve two masters. One is God, because we never stop being His servant. The other is ourselves: our resources, our capabilities, our wisdom. In other words, we are divided. It doesn’t work, does it? When we’re worried we don’t think straight, we rush decisions that we should really take our time over, we’re too quick to speak and we’re too slow to listen.
So what do we do? How do we not worry? How do we not be divided? Back to Luke 10, when Jesus says to worried, divided Martha:
"…but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (v.42).
Jesus says we need only one thing. What was Mary doing that made her unworried and undivided in her heart? She “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (v.39). Not planning frantically, not setting her mind arace trying to figure things out on our own… No, just stopping, taking time and listening to Her Lord.
Jesus says something similar when He tells us not to worry in the Sermon on the Mount:
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first [seek only] his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:31-33).
Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the way to defeat worry. When we seek His face and listen for His voice, we see and hear His love and grace for us and all anxieties and doubts and fears dissolve. God is far from being out of touch and unable to control what happens in our lives. In His power and wisdom He is more than capable. As Isaiah writes, He is
"the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (40:28)
I love the final verse of the chapter:
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa. 40:31)
I always wondered we it goes in this order: “soar”, “run”, “walk”. I always thought it should have been the other way round. First you walk then you run and only then do you take off and fly and soar. But I think what God is saying here is that you have to soar first. You have to get your mind in the heavens first. Look for Christ and get yourself focused on Him first. Listen for His voice and get yourself tuned in to Him first. It’s only then that you can run and walk through a life that’s above worry and fear and doubt.
Wait for Him, look for Him and listen for Him and you’ll find the peace and hope you need.