7 Ways to End the Trap of Worry

Worry is the fear of the future and the fear of tomorrow. It projects into the future what you hope will not happen. Most people waste their lives in the world of worrying, even though we know it will do them no good. Survival mechanisms keep wanting to train us all that worrying will somehow help us find relief.

I have found that a large portion of my life has been wasted in the world of worry. Once something I worried about came to pass, I would discover there was nothing to worry about. Yet I would only gain temporary relief. I would then become vulnerable to worry again regarding the next event or issue.

It becomes a vicious cycle that keeps repeating until we put our foot down and renounce the fear that keeps us in patterns of worry.

The Advice of Jesus for Worry

I cannot bring examples from the Scriptures regarding overcoming fear without emphasizing the example of Jesus. His life is the greatest example. He lived in constant communion with the Father and lived a life void of stress, anxiety or worry.

He knew when to get away and he knew when to say “no.” He knew when it was time to minister to the masses and when it was time to be with His disciples. He demonstrated a well grounded balance of life, which gave Him tremendous authority over fear.

When addressing worry, Jesus took a strong stance, saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV)

We can learn some very powerful insights through the teaching of Jesus.

1. Get your focus off of tomorrow.

This seems counterintuitive for most worriers, but it’s the beginning step for peace and sanity.

The King James version says, “take therefore no thought for the morrow.”  

To the chronic worrier, the primary focus is the future, anticipating everything that can and will go wrong. The problem with worry is that it’s foundation is built on keeping you focused on a dreadful future, while you are absent from the present.

The empowered mindset is simple: don’t fuss about the future as much as you pay attention to what is right in front of you. Get present in the here and now.

That’s what worry does. It steals your ability to be present and engaged with the people and circumstances that are right in front of you. Worriers lose out on the joy of the present moment.

Jesus is not only saying, “don’t worry about tomorrow,” He is also saying, “get your focus off of tomorrow. Get into today!”

Too many have been robbed of the joy found in today because they are obsessed with worry about tomorrow. In the meantime life keeps passing them by.

So in order to break the power of worry, we have to begin retraining our focus from looking into tomorrow and setting our attention on the present.

2. Don’t Spend All Your Time Focusing on Provision

This one challenges me the most, because as a husband and father, I want to always make sure I am being diligent to provide for my family. But as the years go by, I encounter moments where I am reminded that 1) God is my provider and 2) He knows everything I need and 3) I need to spend more time resting in His provision, rather than spending so much energy in panic prayer that is wrapped in worry.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Matthew 6:25 (KJV)

Jesus is teaching us, do not worry about or even “take thought” for things that involve food, drink or clothing, which are some of the main targets we fuss about when it comes to provision.

Wait a second? We’re not supposed to even think about these things?

Jesus is taking the pressure off of those areas. It doesn’t mean that if you have a thought about clothes, food or drink, that you are in sin. He is not saying, do not ever pray about your needs. He’s talking about making those subjects the driving force and main focus of our daily thoughts.  The more I make those issues the headlines in my thinking, the more I empower worry.

3. Keep It Simple

To illustrate this, He gets down to the simple provisions of nature that God provides; something most people do not even realize.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 (NKJV)

It’s easy for us to forget a simple truth: God the Father is the one who provides food for birds!

I can so easily assume that these birds have to fight tooth and beak for every morsel they eat, but Jesus is telling us this is not true. The Father is involved in making sure their daily provision of food is met. Can you believe that?

With that in mind, how much MORE is He paying attention to your needs?

4. Get Firm in God’s Value for You

The game changer for breaking out of worry comes down to knowing that your Father cares for you and has great value for you. His ability to provide is limitless. But the question we can often struggle with is, “But does He care enough for me to provide for me?”

In my deep battles with worry, I knew God had the ability to break through for me. But did He want to? Was I important enough to Him that He would work on my behalf?

Why would God pay attention to my needs when there are starving people in other places? Is my need really that important to Him?

This is a question I’ve had to work through, to align my heart to knowing that He cares for me so deeply. That even the small details are not an annoyance to Him. He loves being a careful provider to me.

Getting firm in the Father’s love and value for you will ground you in His ability and desire to provide. Worry plugs you into doubting and disbelieving that He can or would even want to provide.

Most Christians believe God is a mighty provider, but they struggle to believe that He wants to provide for them specifically. They lack a sense of value, thinking that God probably overlooks their need. Or they believe that their need is not that important to God.

5. Get Immersed in God’s Awareness of Your Every Need

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:32b

To be honest, I can spend a lot of time praying about my needs, where my prayers come across like God has forgotten about me or of the things that I need. Of course, persistent prayer and intercession is a necessary part of the journey, but we often pray like we are convincing God of something, rather than coming into agreement with His goodness and care.  

In my history, I have experienced some amazing moments of supernatural provision. But here is what I have discovered. All of them came out of me not worrying about provision more than me praying enough, praying the right way or saying the right prayers. The miracle provisions appeared in ways I did not anticipate and then arrived at times I did not expect.

I am still learning this lesson, but I have found more breakthrough in provision when I rested in God’s care for my needs than I ever did trying to knock heaven’s doors down with my prayers. I am not saying to stop praying. I just find a great deal of power in letting go of my ability to bring in provision and learn to rest more in who He is as a faithful Provider.

6. Address the Motive Behind Your Planning

There is certainly nothing wrong with planning or with long-range goals, but my question to you is, “What is the motive behind it?” Are you planning and over-planning in response to worry and anxiety or out of trusting expectation?

I can hear people saying, “Mark is it that simple? I’m just going to simply step out in faith, not worry and lay my head to bed at night knowing that everything is going to be ok?” I am with you and I understand that this can be a challenge. But I am finding out that the more I step out in that kind of faith, God honors His word and works in power to release a greater sense of peace to sleep, rest and enjoy life to the fullest.

7. Ground Your Expectation in Gratitude

Worry loses its power when I adjust my expectation. Instead of focusing on what may go wrong or what I may not have, I always find it best to ground my vision with thanksgiving. This changes my expectation from pressured expectation into simple appreciation.

When I am appreciative, it settles me into a healthy perspective, where I come to God in gratitude, not anxious and worry-filled pressure.Being thankful also conditions my focus on what God has done in my life. The empowering truth is that gratitude of past breakthroughs will always ground me in His ability to do it again.

Where can you begin to walk a new path away from worry?