Grief, Heart of the Matter, Living through heartache, Walking by Faith, Worry

Heart of the Matter: Handling Worry

November 1, 2013
Cynthia: This is Cynthia with Heart of the Matter Radio, for women who want to obey God in a less than perfect world.
Women like to be safe, and sometimes life can unsettle us, particularly in these nutty days that we’re having today. In Scripture God warns us not to worry and we’re prone to do that. But let’s start off by defining worry.
In Matthew 6 it says do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat, what shall we drink, what shall we wear. In verse 34 it says do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So from these verses we can tell that anxiety, or worry, has to do with the future. Something that hasn’t happened is on our mind and we’re thinking about it as if it has happened, to the point that our bodies are reacting so that we’re having all the emotions and all the stuff happening as if that awful thing has happened. So we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to go out of our time line and think about things that have not happened.
And that’s what Julie Morris has written about. She has written about turning worry into worship. Welcome, Julie.
Julie: Well thank you, Cynthia.
Cynthia: Julie, what can you tell us about the difference in worry and worship.
Julie: Actually, worship is the antidote to worry. I discovered many years ago that the way to stop worrying is to worship.
Cynthia: Well, tell me how that works. 
Julie: Many years ago I went for a checkup and the doctor saw a suspicious mass on my mammogram. And I was just terrified. I was a Christian and I loved God a whole lot and I knew I wasn’t supposed to worry. But the more I tried not to worry the more I worried. So then I worried about worrying.
The night before I had to go to a surgeon I was just absolutely panicked, and my husband was out of town so I flipped the TV on. It was two in the morning, and they were singing this song, we exalt thee, we exalt thee, we exalt thee oh Lord. As my mind sang that song with them I began to worship the Lord. And it was like a blanket of peace covered me and I fell asleep.
During the night I would wake up again and just in a panic again, and I made myself say I exalt thee, I exalt thee, I exalt thee oh Lord. And as I worshiped then my worries began to subside. And I was relieved to hear the next day that I didn’t have cancer. But I never forgot that wonderful lesson that I learned that night, that worship is the antidote to worry.
You can erase panic with praise.
Cynthia: People do get breast cancer and it’s not a fun thing to go through. And you might have had it, but still we are safe in the ultimate sense. Even if we do get an awful disease. And so we need to put our trust and rest in the Lord about things we cannot control.
Can you tell us a little bit about what grasshopper theology is?
Julie: I was reading Isaiah 40 one day and it just popped out that the way to worship God when you’re worrying is to praise him for the six qualities of God that are listed, very clearly, in Isaiah 40. And one of them is that God the Father is over us. 
In Isaiah 40, verse 22, it says he sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. And so many people feel like God is sitting way up there in his throne in heaven, and we’re like grasshoppers to him. That is grasshopper theology to me. That’s saying I’m just nothing, I’m just a little grasshopper and God is this far away being.
Well, what God was enticing us and inviting us to do was to come above and have a heavenly perspective, rather than having a worm mentality. To have a heavenly perspective and to rise above our problems and sit next to him as we deal with them.
Cynthia: And we sit next to him, what do we see?
Julie: We see his glory and we see the fact that he’s omniscient and omnipotent and that he’s eternal and that he has wonderful plans for our lives. And we see his glory instead of our miniscule problems. 
In 1 Corinthians it says our light and momentary trials. So many people are not having light and momentary trials. There are some horrible things are happening. I was, just a few minutes ago, visiting with my neighbor whose husband is dying of ALS. That is not light and momentary. But these are precious Christians who love the Lord and are one day at a time trusting him in this. 
One day these problems will seem like momentary to them.
Cynthia: Yeah. I think that’s the key, and it talks about those momentary trials that are making huge benefits for us in eternity. And we’ll look back in eternity and it will seem, from that perspective, light and momentary. Because eternity is just never-ending.
While it seems overwhelming now, from the view of eternity, it is certainly not.
Julie: That is so true. But I had to learn specific practical things that I could do in order to stop worrying. Because I would go and I’d share our problems with a Christian friend or whatever and she’d say well stop worrying about it, just trust God. And I couldn’t. I really really tried.
But when I went to the Word and when I prayed about it and asked the Lord what I could do, these practical things just came out at me. And I learned how to deal with my worries, rather than just saying I don’t have them, or praise the Lord anyway, or something, and not deal with my problems.
Cynthia: So what practical things did you learn?
Julie: There’s a book full of them, actually, in the book I wrote From Worry To Worship. But I’ll tell you one or two. 
The first thing is that I learned to praise God, like I was talking about, when I’m in a panic. When I’m worrying I learned to worship. So I praise him for these six qualities of his that are in Isaiah 40. 
I praise him for his presence. He is with me. I praise him for his power. Nothing happens to me that doesn’t filter through his fingers first. I praise him for his plan. God is omniscient, he knows what he’s doing, and he has a plan to prosper me, not to harm me. And I praise God for his purpose. In Isaiah 40, verse 5 it says ,“and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all mankind together will see it.” 
We can know that whatever we’re going through there are advantages to our adversity. And so I praise God that he has a purpose for my pain. Then I praise God for his prize. He is going to reward me. So often we don’t see that till we get to heaven, but we know we’re going to be rewarded because he’s promised us. 
In Isaiah 40, verse 10, it says “see his reward is with him and his recompense accompanies him.”
And then the last one is I praise God for his promises. In Isaiah 40, verse 8, it says “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” So we know that his promises are trustworthy and we can cling to them.
So that’s the first thing I do. I go through all six P’s, all six of those qualities, and praise him according to the specific thing I’m worrying about. And that really helps. 
And then another thing I do is I get God’s word from my head to my heart. We just said a minute ago we praise God for his promises. Well, in order to know his promises and really get those promises from
just being head knowledge to something that we believe with all of our heart, there are certain things that I do to do that.
First of all I memorize certain promises, because I have really found that learning them by heart, which is the old-fashioned way of saying memorizing, that learning those things by heart really does get the promises from my head to my heart. And so I memorize certain ones, and every time I start to worry then I go to that promise that I’ve memorized. Even if it’s in the middle of the night and I don’t want to wake my husband up I’ve got that promise tucked away in my heart and I can just say it over and over. And then I can praise God for it.
Another thing that I do is I write meditations. I look at any verse and then I pick the promises out in it, and then I pick the commands out in it. And it’s amazing to me that most verses in the Bible have either implied, sometimes they’re implied, but implied promises or stated promises, or implied commands and stated commands. 
For example, if we look at one that I’m looking at randomly, Psalm 34, verse 4 and 5, “I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” That is an awesome promise. 
The command, I sought the Lord. So the command is to seek the Lord. And the promise? He’ll answer me. But there’s also an implied command in that that when he answers, listen. Because so often we seek the Lord but we don’t stop to listen to what he’s telling us, either through his Word, through other Christians, or just directly just putting those thoughts in our mind.
Cynthia: I noticed you mentioned in your book that there are several ways that you can know God is speaking. Could you just tell us what those are now?
Julie: The main thing is that it comes with peace. And if it comes with peace, even if it’s a scary hard thing, then it can be fairly certain that it’s from the Lord. But I always check the Word, because if anything doesn’t agree with the Word, of course, we know that this is not from the Lord.
And then there are other ways. I might say Lord, would you confirm this, and so often either a sermon or a book I would happen to pick up, or a friend I would be talking to, would come and say something that’s very similar to what I’ve been wondering about. It’s just awesome how we can be sure that the Lord will tell us what we need to know and he will make that clear and we can know whether it’s from him or not.
Cynthia: Yes. If he tells you to go shoot your husband you know that that is not true, because the Bible would be against that. But there are times that the Lord will bring verses to mind that you have read or memorized, and they’ll be at appropriate times too. And I think when that happens you can be certain that’s from him, because he does do that.
Julie: He certainly does. And really that just underlines the importance of memorizing Scripture. Because if we don’t hide those words in our heart then how is he going to bring them up?
Cynthia: Absolutely. You were talking a little bit about how we don’t always know what God’s plan is. I remember a story back, I was researching someone, the Spurgeons, because I’m writing about the Spurgeon family. And Spurgeon was sick a lot. He had a lot of times that he was just unable to function and he was in bed with a lot of pain. But it was during those times that he wrote his books. We now have a lot of his writing because he did have times that he was very very sick. When he was well he was a lot of times speaking four and five times a day, and it was not sitting still. But the Lord made him sit still and got those things out so that we have a lot of things he wrote that are just very very good. So God used those times, even though he would have preferred not to have been sick.
Julie: Oh, that is a very good point. And while you were talking I was thinking of Paul, who wrote most of his epistles from prison. That was true of the Bible itself too.
Cynthia: Absolutely. What are some more practical steps in just being able to trust God through those really difficult times? What about Habakkuk?
Julie: Oh, well, that old fig tree. I love Habakkuk. Though the fig tree doesn’t bud and there are no grapes on the vines, basically Habakkuk was saying no matter what happens I’m going to trust you. And he just determines that he’s going to trust God.
But the thing is, that is in Habakkuk’s third chapter, but if you look at Habakkuk 1 and 2 he’s basically saying to God don’t you care? What’s going on here? Why aren’t you doing? Why aren’t you acting? And then he finally gets to a point of then saying I’m going to trust you no matter what.
Cynthia: Oh yeah. Habakkuk is very mad at God because he doesn’t think God notices how bad the world is. And he’s telling him off in the beginning of the book. Then when God tells him what he’s going to do, Habakkuk is going oh wait a minute, I didn’t quite mean to get that upset.
By the time God had finished, in the end of the book Habakkuk knows that there’s going to be really hard stuff coming. Because God is going to judge. And he knows that it’s going to be tough, but he has determined, because of the nature of his God, that he’s going to trust.
I’m sure there’s anxiety in there, in places, but even in the middle of that fear that he knows what’s going to happen, he’s determining that he’s going to trust God.
Julie: And I think that’s a real important point, that we have to determine to trust God. If we put ourselves on automatic pilot and don’t get in the habit of having daily quiet times and daily time in the Word, and Christian fellowship at church, if we don’t do these things then when bad times come we’re not prepared. And they can knock us over.
Cynthia: Absolutely. And it’s just real important for us to stay in prayer. 
Unfortunately, those times, God knows we have to have them or we wouldn’t go and pray. We get too comfortable and we think everything’s okay. So those hard things, a lot of times, are what drive us to our feet, because we know we can’t make it.
Julie: That’s so true. It really is. And there’s so many other advantages to adversity, that as we think in a positive way about what God may do or may be doing with the pain or the trials that we’re experiencing, it really helped. A few of those other advantages of adversity is that you were saying that it makes you seek God more, and that’s really important. 
Because of adversity we’re able to help others more effectively. Dora, my sweet neighbor, and I were just talking about what a ministry she’s going to have helping other wives of disabled people, or ALS patients. We just know God’s not going to waste this THD and pain that she’s getting right now. We’ll be able to help others more effectively when we go through adversity.
And then we experience God’s power at work in our lives more when we’re going through a hard time. I like to say any weakness that makes me lean on God more is an asset. And that is very true, because it is in my weakness that his power is made perfect in me.
Cynthia: That’s what Paul was saying in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when God told him my strength is sufficient for you. You can make it through this because I’m going to give you the power to do that.
And yes, we should be, going through trials,
the whole point of going through trials and getting comfort is so that you can give that comfort to someone else. It is not just for you, but it’s for you to pass along.
Julie: It certainly is. That’s such a good point.
Cynthia: We can know the Lord is with me. And sometimes you’re not going to feel that. You just have to believe it.
Julie: That’s right. But that’s where the practical tips that I’m talking about come in to play. Because I can act as if I believe it by doing these practical tips. 
Another thing that I like to do, along those lines when I really am struggling with getting God’s promises from my head to my heart and believing that he has a purpose for my pain and all of that, I like to write myself a letter from God. I look at a particular verse or a promise in Scripture, and then I take that verse and I turn it around, and I write myself a letter about that. 
For example, in Psalm 103:5 it says God satisfies your desires with good things so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Well, if I were doing this particular exercise, if I couldn’t really believe that, and there have been many years that I didn’t believe that when I was struggling with overeating and the eating disorder that came with it, I would write myself a letter from God based on this verse. And it would go something like Julie, I’m going to satisfy the desires that you have with good things, so that your youth is going to be renewed like the eagle’s.
I could really, then, just rejoice in that verse and feel like God were speaking to me directly.
Cynthia: Do you know what you’re doing? I’m a registered nurse, so I think like this. You are putting yourself in a different situation. You’re putting yourself in the mindset of praise, and that’s changing the hormones and stuff that you’re secreting so that you’re changing your whole body chemistry.
When you worry you start secreting all this body chemistry to prepare to run and protect yourself. Well, what you’re doing is you’re putting yourself in a place of praise, which makes your body chemistry totally change. And of course you’re going to feel better.
Julie: Yes. Physiologically you do feel better. I read one study that was so interesting to me. They did cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. They did those levels on actors before they acted and then after the play, or after the scene. And they found that even though they were only acting, that their cortisol levels went up. Their stress hormone went up when they were acting, rather than beforehand when they weren’t. So they were getting in the role.
It’s just amazing that our bodies really do react in such a way when we’re stressed out.
Cynthia: You can certainly change your body chemistry. And that’s why God does not want us to worry and to get down that time line and think well, because of this this is going to happen, and because of this this is going to happen. Your body starts reacting like that particular item that you are worrying about is actually happening now. And it may not happen. A lot of things that we worry about never actually happen.
Julie: Well, that is so true. And you know, it’s not just body chemistry as far as the cortisol levels. They found, of course, blood pressure and strokes and heart attacks and ulcers are all directly response to worry. But when your cortisol levels are increased your immune system is decreased. So you get more colds. You even open yourself up to cancer and autoimmune diseases and that kind of thing. So it really does have great physical ramifications when you worry. 
But it also has emotional ones. Worrying is hard work and it consumes much time and energy. I know firsthand that worrywarts are miserable. I used to be one of them and it’s so nice to be able to say that I’m an ex-worrywart. 
To me worrying is like trying to get some place in a rocking chair. It has a very paralyzing effect. You just can’t get anything accomplished.
Cynthia: Right, it sure does. I particularly like that verse in Philippians 4 that talks about when you pray then the Lord puts a guard around your mind. And that word that’s used actually is a military term which means that your mind is surrounded by soldiers so that they’re protecting your mind. And that is such a great promise, that if we go to him and take that anxiety, that he has a way of surrounding us so that we don’t need to be . . . we’re protected at that point. 
Because Satan is always out there working to try to bring us down, and we need to be centered in Christ. And I think that helps us to get centered.
Julie: Oh that is such a good point. I agree with you a hundred percent on that.
Cynthia: Let’s talk about that verse that you brought up in Psalm 118:6. It says “the Lord is with me, what can man do to me?” How does that help when you’re worried?
Julie:Well, it shows that if God is for me who can be against me. In Romans 8 it just validates that principle, recognizing that God has all power, all wisdom, and he never leaves me for even a second, then we really are not at the mercy of man. Or of circumstances either.
Cynthia: That’s true. But there have been people in the past that were martyred for their faith.
Julie: That’s very true. And I could just say flippantly, oh well, they got to go to heaven. And I don’t take that flippantly at all. I know that God has promised to reward us when we sacrifice in any way, and of course especially if we sacrifice our lives we’re going to have a tremendous reward in heaven. 
I’ve found, also, many people receive their rewards now when they make sacrifices.
Cynthia: But, if they come to that point where someone is going to martyr them, then I think that 2 Corinthians 12:9 kicks in there, where it says that my grace will be sufficient should you face that. It’s not going to be before you face that. It’s going to be when you face that that God is going to be there with you. 
Because it does happen. And it’s happening now in different parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted. So we can be certain that we’re protected. Not necessarily here always, but in the ultimate sense we are safe. Because he will be with us.
Julie: That is true. And that’s kind of, to me, what Psalm 91 is all about. When we abide in his presence, then we can just stand by and watch bad things happen to other people, but bad things are not going to happen to us because we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Cynthia: Absolutely. He can take that bad, and will. That’s a promise that he will take that bad stuff and use it in some way that’s good. That’s what we can be excited about. 
Julie: You know, I know most of your listeners have heard about Corrie ten Boom being in the Nazi concentration camp and have heard about the book that she wrote called The Hiding Place. But in Psalm 32 it says you are my hiding place, you will protect me with trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 
And that is just such a wonderful promise, that no matter what is going on in our lives, no matter how horrible, and I can’t think of anything much worse than a Nazi concentration camp, God provides a hiding place for us.
But look at the verse that comes after verse 7, this was verse 7 that I just told you about. But verse 8 says
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.” And to me that is just such a wonderful promise that no matter what we’re experiencing, God will instruct us and teach us in the way we should go, and he’ll counsel us and watch over us.
But get a load of verse 9, the following verse. It says “Do not be like the horse or mule, which as no understanding, but must be controlled by bit or bridle or they will not come to you.” So he’s basically saying I provided this hiding place for you, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, but don’t be like a horse or a mule who won’t come to me when you’re having trouble.
Cynthia: That’s right. God is a gentleman. He’s not going to force you to come to him. But turn to him voluntarily and seek him, because he’s there and he cares. He cares more than anybody else out there.
Julie: That is true. I just love the verse in 1 John 4:18 in the Living Bible. It says “we need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly. His perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. And if we’re afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us, and prove that we’re not fully convinced that he really loves us.”
It’s just, to me, a matter, when we’re dealing with overcoming fear, it’s a matter of really getting in there, learning God’s promises, claiming God’s promises, and then growing in trust as you lean on him as you go through trials.
Cynthia: I had a friend one time who said that she went to the doctor and was told that she had cancer in her eye. And her first reaction was oh, I am going to die. And it’s like the Lord said  and? What’s so bad about that? And she said oh, okay. I can face it. And she didn’t die, she got well. I think she may be blind in that eye. 
But that’s the point. So what if we die? We’ll be in the presence of the Lord in glory beyond anything we can even imagine. Because he loves us and he lavishes his grace on us. I love that word grace, because it means that he’s going to delight us and delight us and delight us. 
In John, the early part of John, it talks about he gives us grace upon grace. And I think about a grandmother who is just lavishing things. We love and we enjoy. Because he loves us so much. So in his presence there will be no more sorrow and heartache, and we can look forward to that moment when we’re with him.
Julie: That is true. And that’s so important. But many of your listeners are struggling with other things that aren’t necessarily related to sickness or death. Maybe they have rebellious children and they can claim that verse in Isaiah 44:3, “for I will pour water on a thirsty land and streams on a dry ground. I will pout out my spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.” 
Such a beautiful promise. And as you memorize that promise, and as you write about that promise, and meditate on it, then that will just go deeply into your heart and it’ll help you to really trust the Lord with your children.
Cynthia: Absolutely. And that’s a hard one to do.
Julie, this has been wonderful. I appreciate your time so much. Where can our listeners find you?
Julie: I would love to be found! I have a website focusing in on the book I have written, From Worry To Worship, and the website is www.worrytoworship.com You can purchase the book there. It comes on Kindle and Nook, as well as a softback book.
I would love to hear from any of your worried listeners if they’re going through trials right now and just need a little bit of encouragement you can write me at julie@worrytoworship.com and I will be glad to talk to you personally. I’m a lay counselor at my church and I have overcome a lot of worrying myself. I truly would love to hear from your listeners.
Also, on the website, www.worrytoworship.com, there are some Bible verses, it’s under Downloads on that Worry To Worship site, and you can just click that button and print out those Bible verses that specifically have helped me and come from the book From Worry To Worship.
Cynthia: Okay. Thank you. And I’d like for listeners to reply to me as well, if you have questions or topics you would like to discuss. You can email me at cynthia@clsimmons.com
Thank you, Julie, for your time, and bless you for helping us to stop worrying and start worshiping.
Julie: Thank you, Cynthia. I enjoyed it.
Julie Morris

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