Tag Archives: anxiety

It’s not worth it

I Kings 21:7

Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel?  Get up and eat!  Cheer up.  I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” NIV

One of the things that makes this project challenging, and interesting at the same time, is that the word “worry” does not appear, even once, in the King James version of the Bible.  All the same stories are there, of course, as translated from the original Greek and Hebrew, but, it appears to me that at the turn of the 16th century in England, the word “worry” was not in as wide a use as it is today.

I checked that out on the Web, and found one source, “The Word Detective,” that claims that the use of the word worry in the context of “to make or to be consistently anxious,” came into being in the early 1800s.  The site also says, and this is fascinating to me, that the original meaning of the word in Old English was “to strangle.”  I need to ponder that one.

In the meantime, this morning, I decided to look at the New Living Translation, expecting, correctly, that it would have translated some words to the word “worry” that other versions have not.  That’s where I found this verse.  The NLT translates this verse, “Are you the king of Israel or not?” Jezebel demanded. “Get up and eat something, and don’t worry about it. I’ll get you Naboth’s vineyard!” NLT

As I read the whole story of King Ahab, it seemed to me that he wasn’t worried, as much as he was just plain spoiled.

Ahab sets his heart on a vineyard that is close to his castle.  He thinks it will make a lovely vegetable garden.  He goes to the vineyard’s owner, Naboth, and asks him to give the land to the king.  In return, Ahab promises Naboth a better vineyard, or, he tells him, he will gladly pay for the land.

Naboth declines the king’s offer.  “Not on your life!” he says in verse 3, “So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!” MSG

King Ahab goes back to the castle, which is right next door to the vineyard.  Verse 4 says, “he went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.” MSG

He hasn’t gotten what he wanted, and he’s been insulted in the process.  He is the king of Israel, and, one of his subjects, instead of gladly granting his wish, has had the nerve to stand up to him.

What happens next is fascinating.

Jezebel comes in, delivers her speech, and then arranges for Naboth to be publicly maligned and stoned to death.  After he is dead, she goes to the king and tells him that the vineyard is now conveniently available.  Verse 16 says, “The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, and claimed it for his own.”  MSG.

No remorse, no “What have you done?!?”  He just goes out to the vineyard, and, presumably begins planning where he’ll put the tomatoes.

The rest of the story is long and complicated, and doesn’t end well for Ahab’s family.  Very sad.

Ahab wants something.  There is a barrier.  He is completely distressed by the barrier.  It seems to him that life is not worth living if the barrier cannot be bridged.  Perhaps, he even feels “strangled” by his unfulfilled want.  Ultimately, he and his wife take matters into their own hands and break down the barrier in order to achieve the goal, paying no mind to the hurt they inflict in the process.  The goal is achieved, and, as you read on, life still is not really worth living for Ahab.

This is a pretty effective lesson.  Whatever it is that we’re worried about, or that we think we want, isn’t worth it.  Our ultimate goal here needs to be to serve God, to commune with Him and to do His work.  We shouldn’t waste our time pining after what someone else has, or something that we think we want.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Anxious, I Kings, Old Testament, Worry

Banish it

Ecclesiastes 11:10

So then, banish anxiety from your heart, and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless. NIV

This verse comes at the end of a beautiful passage in Ecclesiastes.  As I began to think about this verse, I began wondering about the writer.  I thought that I remembered that Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.

My NIV bible confirms that this is a possibility, although, apparently, there is some disagreement about who the author actually is.  If Solomon wrote it, the book is older than some people think it is.

Either way, I found the introductory passage  in my NIV Bible so interesting.  It says, “Theme and Message:  Life not centered on God is purposeless and meaningless.  Without him, nothing else can satisfy (2:25).  With him, all of life and his other good gifts are to be gratefully received and used and enjoyed to the full (2:26; 11:8)  The book contains the philosophical and theological reflections of an old man, most of whose life was meaningless because he had not himself relied on God.”

He had not relied on God.  So sad.

As I put this verse in that context, I wonder, what is the writer suggesting we do to banish that anxiety from our heart?  To stop worrying?

I’ve learned through this project that the only true antidote to worry is to fully trust in God. To rely on Him him wholly.  To know beyond knowing that He has a plan for my life, and while I cannot see it, I must continue walking through it with faith and hope moment by moment.

The Message translates this verse, “Live footloose and fancy free — you won’t be young forever.  Youth lasts about as long as smoke.” MSG

So interesting.  The implication here is that we really have no worries as long as we are young … the real worries, he seems to be saying, come when your body begins to fail you.

How much, I wonder, is his perspective colored by a lack of reliance on God?  To me, it would seem just the opposite … as you enter old age, with the pleasant memories of a life well lived behind you, with a history of serving others as Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth, you draw closer to the ultimate reward — eternity with God.

I’ll have to think more about that today.


Filed under Anxious, Ecclesiastes, Old Testament, Worry

It’s catching!

Deuteronomy 20:8

Then the officers shall add, “Is any man afraid or fainthearted?  Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too.” NIV

This is a great reminder not to worry … don’t do it because it is infectious!

As I read this verse this morning, the phrase, “misery loves company” came to mind.  When I Googled that phrase, I found that it means pretty much what I thought it did … people who are unhappy want to be around other unhappy people.

But, and this was news to me, apparently, if unhappy people encounter happy people, they will do things to bring them down.

While I had honestly never thought of it that way,  I can see that this is true for worriers.  If I’m worried about something, and someone that I know or love is not, I often have the erroneous perspective that they would share my worry if they just had all the “facts” that I have.  But my “facts” are often (read always) colored by my own perspective … which isn’t always a balanced one.

One of my dearest friends said something so powerful to me this week.  She said, “now, clean your lenses,” and go back and look at this again.  She was right.  I was looking at the issue through a perspective crowded with stress and worry.  Having worn eyeglasses for as long as I can remember, her precious advice provided a mental picture that will stick with me.

In this chapter of Deuteronomy, the people are being given instructions on what to do before going into battle.  If one of the warriors is worried or afraid, he should be sent home so that others won’t become disheartened, too.

This makes a lot of sense to me.

My attitude, good or bad, has an impact on those around me.  I need to think about how to apply this guidance to my own life and to situations that I’m facing.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Deuteronomy, Fear, Old Testament, Worry

He will give you strength

Daniel 10:19

“Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed,” he said.  “Peace!  Be strong now, be strong.”  When he spoke to me I was strengthened and said, “Speak my lord, since you have given me strength.” NIV

As I work my way through the listings of the word, “fear” in my King James concordance, this is the next appearance of the phrase, “fear not.”

This verse is in the same chapter as one that I looked at a few days ago.  I’m back in the story of Daniel.  Daniel has been fasting and praying for three weeks, and, in response to his prayers, a vision has appeared.  The vision tells Daniel in verse 14, “I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future.” NIV

I have always loved science fiction.  I own all the episodes of the original Star Trek on DVD (they came in cute plastic boxes that look like tricorders). Sometimes on rainy or snowy days, my husband and I will watch several episodes in a row.  I love that so many things from that show that seemed so far out of reach are now commonplace … microwaves, cell phones.  I still find myself wishing for a transporter at times.

But, as much as I have always enjoyed dreaming about the future, and as much time as I have spent worrying about my own, I don’t think I would really want to know it.  Last night, on the news, it was reported that scientists are very close to perfecting a test of your spinal fluid that will accurately predict whether you will develop Alzheimer’s Disease.  I would not want to know that.  I don’t think I could handle information about the future as gracefully as Joseph did when, for instance, he knew the drought was coming.  I’m meant to live my life moment by moment … I don’t really want to know what’s coming next.

Daniel, too is overwhelmed.  In verse 16, Daniel says, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless.” NIV

The response is fascinating to me.  The Message translates it, “Don’t be afraid, friend.  Peace. Everything is going to be all right.   Take courage.  Be strong.” MSG

God had a message for Daniel.  He had a purpose for Daniel’s life.  Daniel was to write his story and the story of his vision so that we would have it today to use as a roadmap.  As intimidating as the task was for Daniel, he did not have to accomplish it alone.  God was with him, reassuring him, bolstering him, preparing him for the tasks that were ahead.

As I face a future of uncertainty, that same God is there.  He is the Alpha — He was there at the very beginning; and the Omega — He will be there until the very end.  I can step into this day — whatever it will hold — and into the rest of my life with confidence.  The confidence  that is borne of being truly loved by the Master of the Universe.  The One who gives me strength.

That’s what I will think about today.

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Filed under Anxious, Daniel, Fear, Old Testament, Worry

Rejoice in the tasks that are completed instead of worrying over those that aren’t

Philippians 2:25-28

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.  For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was ill, and almost died.  But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again, you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.  NIV

This morning, I woke up a little anxious.  It occurred to me that I should look up “anxious” in my concordance to see what verses there might apply to my project or my situation.  There are not a ton of verses in the NIV that deal with “anxious” or “anxiety.”  Many of those verses, I already have covered over the last few months.  And, looking at those entries in this blog, which I treat as my own prayer journal, was very helpful to me.

But, this verse is one that I had not yet looked at.

While this verse has nothing to do with my current situation, it is a beautiful reminder of one of the ways to alleviate worry … complete a task.

So often, when something is hanging over my head, it causes me to stress over it.  If I will just turn in and complete it, then I am blessed with the relief that Paul mentions in this verse.  The Message translates verse 28, “So you can see why I’m so delighted to send him on to you.  When you see him again, hale and hearty, how you’ll rejoice and how relieved I’ll be.” MSG

I don’t know that much about Epaphroditus, except that it appears to me that he was a member of the church at Phillipi whom the Phillipians had sent to help Paul.  The man served faithfully, and almost lost his life in the process.  But now, his task has been completed, his health has been restored, and he is ready to go home to his friends and family.  It appears to me that Paul has been very worried about the young man, and he will be relieved when Epaphroditus makes it back home safe and sound.

It is, if you will, “tying a big red bow” around the task that Epaphroditus set out to accomplish.

Today, I will focus on being thankful for the tasks that are completed.   I will rejoice in the relief that comes from a job well done, instead of obsessing over all of the tasks that are before me.

That is a good thing to think about today!

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Filed under Anxious, New Testament, Philippians

Don’t expect the worst

2 Samuel 9:7

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” NIV

Saul had been the king of Israel before David.  His son, Jonathan, was David’s best friend.  Now, both Saul and Jonathan are dead, and David has asked his people, “Is there anyone left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (v. 1)  One of David’s servants points out that Mephibosheth, one of Jonathan’s sons is still living and the servant adds, “he is crippled in both feet.”

I, like many people, know what it’s like to live in a less-than-perfect body.  But, in 2010, I am blessed with doctors and remedies that make my situation very livable.  In David’s time, it must have been extremely difficult to be crippled, and not just in one foot, but both.

When I think of Mephibosheth, I have always pictured him as downcast.  Perhaps, I am projecting what I would have felt in his situation, but, that’s how I see him.  The man has had a tough life, and now, his grandfather, who had once been very powerful, is dead, his father is dead, and the new king, whom his grandfather tried very hard to kill has summoned him.

I am betting that Mephibosheth was more than worried about this meeting.  He very well had no idea what David wanted, and, I’m betting, given his history, he did not have high expectations that the encounter would turn out well.

I often find myself thinking that way.  If things have not gone well, I have no reason to assume that they will get better, in fact, I often expect them to just get worse.

But, David tells Mephibosheth not to worry, and then, David restores him to all that the man had when his grandfather was king … and more!

The worst doesn’t always happen … sometimes God has wonderful blessings in store for us, just around the next corner.  But, since he did not equip us to see the future, we don’t know what will happen.

Today, I will think about that, and I will enjoy waiting for God’s next blessing.


Filed under Anxious, Fear, II Samuel, Old Testament

I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. NIV

What a beautiful, beautiful verse.

What a privilege.  What an honor.

The creator of the universe cares for me.

When I used the Greek to English dictionary in my concordance to look up the word “cares,” in this verse, I was surprised by its definition, “to trouble; to concern.”  Curiously, those same words appear in the definition for “anxiety.”

Candidly, I never pictured God as being troubled over me.  I’ve always pictured Him as calm, never surprised, never grieved.  But, as I think about it, I think that there are verses that say he is grieved sometimes … I should look those up. As I typed that, I thought, “well, you have a concordance right there … do it!” And, sure enough, the Lord appears to be grieved in several instances.

He is all an all-knowing God.  He knows everything I’ve done and everything I will do, and yet, He still cares.  That’s pretty powerful.  I am so thankful to have that knowledge today.

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Filed under Cares, I Peter, New Testament