Conquering worry in troubled times
Worry can seem unavoidable, especially in a world full of danger and chaos. But living in worry means we’re not walking in faith, and can bring some serious side effects. How do we stay engaged with a troubled world without getting trapped by worry?
Dr. Linda Mintle says we must first distinguish between concern and worry. She’s identified three key areas of difference;
“When you’re concerned about a problem, you try to solve it. When you’re worried about a problem, you’re just circling it over and over without any kind of way to solve it.”
“When you’re concerned about a problem, you want to take action: you take control where you can and then you let go the parts that you can’t. But with worry, you feel inactive–paralyzed– like you’re out of control all the time.”
“When you’re concerned about something, you’re really trying to think ‘OK, how do I handle this? What do I need to do? How does God help me in this process?‘ When you’re worried, you are completely disrupted…you can’t think, and you forget about God.”
Worry is damaging to ourselves and our souls, because it practically denies the foundation of faith:
The opposite of worry is trust in God: at the very root of worry, it’s all about doubt in God. When we begin to worry, we really need to go back to asking, am I trusting the Lord in this situation, or am I panicking because I feel so out of control?”
“Remember that God is in control; He is with us. He doesn’t leave us in the middle of these difficult times. In fact, he goes out of his way in several of the Psalms to say ‘I’m an ever-present help in the time of trouble.’ So that’s a good place to start.”
After we’ve identified our worries, how do we conquer them? Dr. Linda says the key is what Paul describes in the Scriptures as “taking every thought captive”:
“First, acknowledge that you have an anxious thought and then begin to take it captive. What does that mean? When you when somebody is in captivity, they’re confined there in a space where they cannot go out. Taking that thought captive means (we) do not let it wander into worried waters. Instead, acknowledge it. Say what it is, and then begin to replace it with the truth of what God says. This is where knowing scripture really helps.”
Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker and national expert on relationships and the psychology of food, weight and body image. She is also the host of the Dr. Linda Mintle Show heard weekly on Faith Radio.