The Worry Commandment: Worry-Free When Distressed
The Worry Commandment: Worry-Free When Distressed
Week of March 3, 2019 by Tom Deighan
Sometimes, the best way to define something is to identify what it is not. Worry may be one of those phenomena, especially due to complexity of our minds and emotions. We know that worry is the absence of peace, but we cannot always differentiate between worry and other legitimate issues like fear, physical suffering, and/or hard-wired emotions. Can we experience such distress without worrying?
Just as we have defined worry primarily by what it is not – worry is not peace – we can further understand worry and anxiety by separating it from other human experiences. We can experience just about everything with or without worry. We can be sad without worrying. We can be sick without worrying. We can be angry . . . disappointed . . . concerned. We can be distressed and be at peace. We can also be distressed and drown in anxiety.
We can experience all sorts of emotions, physical needs and circumstances with or without worry, and conversely, with or without peace. Many of us are so saturated in angst and worry that we cannot tell the difference, because everything that distresses us produces anxiety and worry. First, we know that fear/worry/anxiety are not from God, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
We can get so mixed up inside that we lose the ability to discern what is going on in our own hearts, souls or minds. Fortunately, God provides us a tool to separate those things, His Word. “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit . . . a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Peace is a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), and His Word enables us to accurately identify the “division of the soul and spirit.” His word helps us to discern “the thoughts and intents of the heart.” His Word teaches us how to experience normal life without worry.
Psalm 107 provides a beautiful illustration of a life that experiences all the inevitable ups-and-downs of life, yet without worrying. It shows how we can experience the full spectrum of human experience, but without having to worry or be full of anxiety because God will always deliver us from our distresses. He will always provide a way through or a way out! (I Corinthians 10:13)
Psalm 107 vividly illustrates the pattern we can expect when trials beset us that would tempt us to worry. Each time, the result is the same – God always rescues His people “out of their distresses.” (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28) The lesson is that we can be distressed without worrying.
Physical Distress: We can expect our physical bodies to be impacted, “in a desolate way; hungry and thirsty . . . (our) soul fainted.” (107:4-6) But we do not have to worry because “He delivered them out of their distresses.” (v. 6)
Emotional Distress: We can expect our emotions to be impacted, sometimes even “in darkness . . . bound in affliction and irons . . . (with) none to help.” (107:10-12) Yet, “He saved them out of their distresses.” (v. 13) So emotional distress does not require us to worry.
Distress from Mistakes: Sometimes, we suffer distress for our own foolish mistakes, “Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.” (107:17) Nevertheless, “He saved them out of their distresses.” (v. 19) Anxiety does not have to accompany our mistakes.
Mental Distress: We can expect our minds to be impacted at times: “The stormy wind . . . waves of the sea . . . their soul melts . . . at their wits’ end.” (107:25-27) And yes, “He brings them out of their distresses.” (v.28). We do not have to worry, however.
Psalm 107 illustrates the pattern perfectly, how God will always rescue us, eliminating the need for worry. The pattern follows the Philippians 4:7 pattern of Prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. In each of these instances of distress, God’s people cried “out to God in their trouble” (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28), letting “their requests be made known to God.” (Phil 4:6-7)
Whenever God rescues them “out of their distresses,” they are expected to offer thanksgiving. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness!” (Psalm 107:1,8,15,21,31) Therefore, the tools to address worry are the same in The Old Testament and The New Testament: Prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving!
Finally, the Psalmist teaches us the most critical lesson in the last verse of Psalm 107:
Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
We have observed God’s saving grace over and over in our lives and in the lives of others. As we “observe these things,” therefore, we “will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” How can we worry, if we truly understand His lovingkindness? The wise, or mature, among us have observed these things, and have learned to be thankful not only after being saved from the distress but also during the distress. Thanking God during our distresses is a sign of spiritual maturity and a sure way to stay worry-free during the distressing periods of our lives.
Dear Leader, I have suffered emotional distress, mental distress, physical distress, and lots of distress from mistakes (because I make so many!) When in tune with God’s spirit, I can endure all these distresses without worry or anxiety. Facing these issues on my own, I am wracked with worry and anxiety in nearly unbearable quantities. Scripture teaches us that He will always provide us a way through our challenges (until He takes us home). And Psalm 107 shows us the pattern of distress, prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving that is also outlined in Philippians 4:6-7. A worry-free life is not a life free from distress, but those distresses are much easier to take when we know He will take care of us.
The Worry Commandment offers us a worry-free life, but Jesus never promised us a life from distress. We will be distressed, but just imagine living through those things without worry! How thankful we should be for His lovingkindness!
If this blessed you, please share with someone.
For the rest of the Worry Commandment series, or to sign up for weekly devotionals, visit www.tomdeighan.com
Copyright Tom Deighan, All Rights Reserved