A Great Alternative to Worry

A Great Alternative to Worry and Two Resources to End Your Ceaseless Striving

Sunday Scripture and Book Talk

How much does worry weigh? By my observation, enough to round the shoulders, slow the step, and lengthen the daily darkness. Worry absorbs energy, steals sleep, and dampens conversation.

My time spent in public school classrooms warns me that even our children are not immune to worry, for it’s not unusual to receive a list of names as part of my sub plans: “These children experience anxiety which may be heightened today because you are here and I am not.”

Funny how the unexpected can slip right past my own expert worry filter. The steady stream of news and the frequent use of the word unprecedented have given even the most steady and trusting among us good reason to wonder what’s next. Things I can’t predict and things I can’t control sneak into the room like a Monday morning substitute teacher, standing there taking lunch count and setting her coffee mug down on the teacher’s desk as if she belongs there!

No Judgment for Worry–Just an Alternative

When I read the Apostle Paul’s words about worry in Philippians 4, I exhale in relief, because I don’t detect a wagging finger or an air of judgment in his words. It sounds as if Paul (and Jesus!) understand that there are plenty of reasons to be anxious on this broken ground, plenty of opportunities to fret. The good news sounds even better when it comes to me as an alternative strategy to worry:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

When I read it through the Romans 8:1 filter of “No Condemnation,” this verse becomes a life-giving alternative to the weight of worry.

  1. Turn your worries into prayer. Redirect every word of that internal conversation toward the God who is always listening anyway. Present all the dreaded alternatives, all the what-ifs, and all the horrendous possibilities to God, and ask for his help, his comfort, and his peace. Tell him what you need, whether it’s a material, tangible resource or simply the grace to keep moving forward in a day that looks too hard.
  2. Thank God for everything. “Lord, we don’t know what you’re doing here, but we thank you because we know you are good.” I’ve heard my husband pray words to this effect so many times that I’m starting to learn the lyrics of faith myself. The intersection of God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness is a safe place to stand when worry gnaws around the edges of our hearts.

If worry is all you’re carrying in your hands today, offer it to Jesus. He promises to bear the weight with you, and here’s the promise he makes to those who offload their worry into prayer: “You will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

By grace, you can choose to let prayer and gratitude serve as faithful guardians for your heart whenever you are tempted to worry!

The good news sounds even better when it comes to me as an alternative strategy to worry. The intersection of God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness is a safe place to stand when worry gnaws around the edges of your heart.

Now Let’s Talk Books

I’m thankful when I can share solid reading material that reinforces my own teaching in a Sunday Scripture post! This week there’s something for little people as well as an adult-sized resource, and keep reading for details about how you can win your own copy of Isaiah and the Worry Pack!

Isaiah and the Worry Pack by Ruth Goring

If the little people in your world carry a load of worry, introduce them to  Isaiah and the Worry Pack and learn together from Isaiah’s bedtime heart-to-heart with his mum. Adult-sized problems can steal sleep from kid-sized hearts and minds, but surprising things happen when children learn to hand their worries over to Jesus.

Using guided imagery, author Ruth Goring models a spiritual conversation between a fictional parent and child as a first step for real-life parents and children to engage their own imaginations in fruitful discourse with God. Probing a worried feeling until we discover its source and then give it a name; framing an open conversation with Jesus in a peaceful setting; offloading anxieties by listening for Jesus’s voice in Scripture are all onramps to rest and peace.

As Isaiah drifts weightlessly into a tangerine-tree dream, his worry blocks have shriveled up and his pack is empty. Vivid illustrations by Pamela Rice bring this part of the story to life.

Best of all, gospel-based hope does not require a happy ending in which all of Isaiah’s troubles get fixed through magical solutions. Instead, readers see the example of a willed response to God’s powerful goodness as the path away from anxiety.

If you are already a newsletter subscriber, watch your inbox for details about how you can win a FREE copy of Isaiah and the Worry Pack! If you’re not a subscriber yet, by all means sign up below. I’ll provide instructions for entering the drawing in my January 20th newsletter—along with a link to my brand new, free Guided Meditation on Psalm 46 that will help you war against anxiety in your own daily life.

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When Strivings Cease by Ruth Chou Simons

Worry can lead to ceaseless striving, and, conversely, our culture of never-good-enough leads to worries of the worst kind.

A memoir embedded in strong Christian encouragement, When Strivings Cease sheds light on the reason we’re all so tired, why we keep pushing when we know our salvation is all of grace, and therefore, an accomplished fact. We’re safe—and yet we still feel unable to measure up.

Ruth Chou Simons is an established author, artist, and entrepreneur, and yet she admits to her own fatigue and great discomfort with our culture of hurry and worry. What makes all the difference and what changed her perspective is an understanding of God’s grace, its comprehensive ability to secure her identity and to establish her adequacy before God. Without this bedrock, any attempt to soothe the fear of not being enough with achievement or self-righteousness will sap the joy out of whatever gifts we exercise.

Simons writes from the context of her experience as an Asian-American woman, growing up with Chinese-speaking parents, singing church songs in Mandarin, and now raising a gaggle of six sons. Whatever challenging circumstances form your particular context, allow them to drive you to a pursuit of truth in Scripture until you become convinced that “self-righteous striving is more hopeless than you want to believe, but grace is more life-transforming than you realize.”

For me, this means valuing the transformative more than I value image management, pursuing spiritual depth more than the trappings of success. My striving will cease—and yours will too—when we acknowledge by the way we live that God’s mercy and grace are truly enough, and definitely more effective in bringing peace and joy than any effort we could have expended on our own.

Thank you!

It’s a joy to come alongside you with solid reading material to strengthen your faith-walk, your parenting, and your confidence as a Christ-follower! Thank you for reading and for sharing this resource with others.

Holding you in the Light,

My striving will cease—and yours will too—when we acknowledge by the way we live that God’s mercy and grace are truly enough.

Photo by Anna on Unsplash

THE ADORE ISSUE IS NOW AVAILABLE!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press, Thomas Nelson, and NetGalley for providing copies of these books to facilitate my reviews, which are, of course, offered freely and with honesty.

63 thoughts on “A Great Alternative to Worry and Two Resources to End Your Ceaseless Striving”

  1. I also breathed a sigh of relief. I have, too often, been told is a command which added guilt to my worry.
    I am personally more comfortable saying I can give thanks “in everything” rather than “for everything.” There are some tragedies that are simply that, things God has allowed which are not “good.” But I know God can redeem them by what he teaches us, what others see in us as we trust in Him, how we grow through them.

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    1. These are such helpful thoughts, Kathy, and I think we do put the glory of God on display in our sufferings. It amazes me when I read in 2 Corinthians 4 that our sufferering actually produces for us an eternal weight of glory. It takes real faith to see the organic connection!

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  2. Michele, turning to prayer and thanksgiving as an alternative to worry is SO much more palatable than trying to get myself to stop worrying! My heart breaks to think of those students in your classes who experience anxiety when their regular teacher is gone. I can’t help but think that your presence (and that of the Holy Spirit within you) brings them some much-needed peace and calm …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhh—just what I needed to encourage me this Monday morning! We can’t increase our life span or our happiness by worrying (or our productivity). As you mentioned, it takes discipline to turn the worries over to God and rest in the assurance that HE (not me) is in control.

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  4. These is a lot of truth here. Carrying worry is a heavy load. I’m glad Jesus offers to unburden us if we let Him.

    Bank you so much for coming and sharing this!

    Found this at the Sunday Sunshine Blog Hop

    Laurie
    Ridge Haven Homestead

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  5. I’ve never seen so many unexpected and unprecedented events as I have the last couple of years. I love the thought that Paul doesn’t tell us not to worry with a finger wagging in our faces, but with encouragement to trust everything to God. I love this: “Lord, we don’t know what you’re doing here, but we thank you because we know you are good.” Even when we don’t understand why God would allow certain things, we know He is good and He loves us.

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  6. Michele, at first when I saw the date on this post, I thought – how did I miss seeing this? But no, I saw this right on time! And on the heels of also reading Lois Flowers post on prayer. The Lord is showing me today how I need to get back to praying His Word. Yes, to converse with Him and tell Him my concerns. But to remember exactly what He has to say about it all.
    Your students are blessed to have you as a sub. I can only imagine how the Lord brings His peace to their anxious minds through your very presence in the classroom!

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  7. I like the idea of looking at the verses in Philippians through the Romans 8:1 filter of “No condemnation.” It took me a long time to see those verses in that way. I like the sound of “Isaiah and the worry pack”. I think a lot of children struggle with worry and anxiety and this looks like a really helpful resource.

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  8. I feel like I am always worried about something! Prayer does help but I’d be lying if I said it was a magic cure-all for me and I felt instantly lighter… but it does help. That children’s book sounds fantastic!

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    1. I used to think that prayer was supposed to clear everything up, that the Christian life was supposed to be trouble free. Prayer is about relationship, and sometimes it has to be “pray without ceasing “ because there’s the temptations to worry without ceasing!

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  9. A very timely word for me this week. We are facing an unexpected (unprecedented!) change in our employment and income and that means a job search and likely move too. There’s plenty to worry about, if we let ourselves. We are turning the worries into prayers and are so thankful for God’s faithfulness!

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    1. Oh, Kim I pray that you will be able to resolve this job situation without a major relocation. So sorry for your stressful situation. We have actually been in your shoes, and it’s a brutal trial of uncertainty.

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  10. In the note to you as substitute teacher, these words stand out, ‘because you are here’ and I thought – because He is here…
    We know comfort and peace. We are never alone.
    I’m thankful He is always with us, Michele.

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  11. Hi Michele–it is very true that prayer helps release us from anxieties–at least it has always helped me that way. Faith is a gift that rewards us in many ways

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  12. I turned worry into prayer this morning. Sometimes I think I worry more now that my children are adults! Thanks for linking up and have a great week ahead.

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  13. I am a huge worrier and it does realy weigh me down at times. I always think of the serenity prayer to try to make me put things in perspective. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  14. I’m a bit of a worrier too, but I’ve definitely got to grips with not letting it tip the balance in a negative way over the years. It’s surprising how much it can consume you if you don’t share the worry. Thank you for joining us for #MischiefAndMemories

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  15. Michele,
    I am currently reading “When Strivings Cease” and loving it. Did you do the workbook that goes with it? The truth is I love to strive to do my best, but sometimes I take it over the line. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Link-Up. I am sharing your post on Pinterest. Blessings, Maree

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  16. My worries have stopped since I’ve returned to the UK to live.
    Thanks for linking with #pocolo, sorry for the delay with commenting and sharing. Hope to see you back soon.

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  17. The quote from the Philippians which had inspired you this post of yours has caught my eyes and made me reflect…When we’re worried we do immerse ourselves in our anxiety, concern, but we don’t think that the Lord can bring us relief and with Him by our side we do need not to be worried for anything!
    Thank you dearest, precious friend for reminding me of this far precious quote!
    Blessings are sent on your way
    XO Daniela

    Like

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