Chasing the Freedom from Worry Phantom

June 15, 2011

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Laura Hendrickson

Chasing the Freedom from Worry Phantom

Do you ever say to yourself, “I just don’t want to have to worry about that?” Or maybe you’ve thought, “If (I, he, she) could just ____, I wouldn’t have to worry anymore.” Freedom from worry—who doesn’t want that?

You Can Never Catch It

Doing a recent interview about raising a child with autism, I was reminded of the many times over the years I’ve chased the freedom from worry phantom. I call it a phantom because you chase it, but you can never catch it.

Eric was mute when he was 3. All my energy that year was focused upon getting him to talk. I thought that if he’d just speak, I’d be sure he’d be all right. Then I wouldn’t have to struggle with fear about his future any more.

He spoke at 4. I rejoiced, gave sincere thanks to God—and was immediately off to my next worry. If only he learns to read…If he can just make a friend…If I can just be sure he’s up to high school work…If he just gets into college…If he finds a job…If he keeps a job…my troubles will be over.

Mister Rogers, television friend to preschoolers, sang a song when Eric was small that contained this line, “I like to know what’s going to happen.” Can you relate? Most of us find uncertainty very uncomfortable, and especially when it concerns someone we love. We want this discomfort to go away, so we chase the phantom.

Why Can’t We Catch It?

I’m convinced that we’ll never catch the phantom because God doesn’t want us to. Bear with me for a moment and I’ll explain.

Scripture tells us that God doesn’t want us to be anxious. Did you know that “don’t be afraid” is the most frequently repeated command in the Bible? In fact, Jesus Himself said not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34). This is because we’re supposed to be doing something else instead—praying (Philippians 4:6,7).

That’s right. Our anxieties are meant to drive us to God in prayer. The struggles we have with uncertainty remind us that we aren’t in control of our own lives. Neither we ourselves, nor our circumstances, can ever make us safe. Only the Lord can do that.

Why do I want to be free from my struggles with worry? Because I don’t like feeling uncomfortable. I should be more willing to welcome my anxieties though, because God uses them to remind me how much I need Him. And when I finally come running to Him in desperation, He welcomes me with open arms and showers me with compassion and provision.

I wonder why I so often wait to run to Him. It must be because I keep forgetting that God’s doing good to me when He sends me the things that make me uncomfortable (Romans 8:28). My fears are friends, not enemies, because they drive me to the only One who can keep me safe.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3, 4).

Join the Conversation

How about you? Do you sometimes find yourself dreading the very thing God uses to bring you closer to Him?

5 thoughts on “Chasing the Freedom from Worry Phantom

  1. Very good reminders. Thank you! This will help others obey the orders the Lord gave: “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with the worries of this life” (Luke 21:34). I often remind myself that overcoming anxiety requires prayer with thanksgiving. I must move prayer from requests to praise and thanksgiving  if I desire true relief from anxiety. 

  2. Excellent post, Laura! Courtney and I were just talking about this the other night. There will never be a time when everything in our lives is figured out perfectly…we will ALWAYS be some state of “I don’t know” where we HAVE TO trust God.
    “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Heb. 11:6

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