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The Futility of Worry and How to Overcome It


By Phil Bachman, Pastor/Life Coach, Meadows Mennonite Retirement Community

Recently, I was visiting a resident who made a striking statement. She said, “After all these years, I don’t worry anymore. It took me a long time, but I finally learned it just isn’t worth it!”  Oh, that we all could learn that lesson sooner rather than later!

Several years ago, a study was done which asked subjects to write down specific things they have worried about in the past. They were then asked how many of those worrisome events actually happened. To their own surprise, only 15 percent of them did. That’s right. Of all the things we worry about, 85 percent of them never happen! In the words of 16th century French philosopher Michael de Montaigne, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.”

The Bible gives us the clearest picture of the futility of worry as well as ways to avoid it. Jesus said in Matthew 6:27, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Of course, the answer is no one. In fact, worry will likely take some time off our life!
Furthermore, Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 6:34, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The futility of worrying about tomorrow stems from the fact we do not control our lives or even know if God will grant us a tomorrow. James writes in James 4:14, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

So, when trouble comes and the future seems bleak, what should we do instead? The Bible says we should hold our worrisome thoughts hostage. According to 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Worry is a speculative thought. It raises itself up against the knowledge of God in that it presumes we know better than God what will happen. Worry presumes God is not wise or powerful enough to provide for His children. How this must hurt the heart of God! 

The question then is this: how do we take worrisome thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ? I believe this happens when we replace worrisome thoughts with God-honoring ones. Contrary to what people might say, the human mind cannot think more than one thought at a time (as proven in research done by Amit Sood, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic). God would have us use this fact to our advantage when He instructs us to think about Him and things that glorify Him. Listen to what God leads the Apostle Paul to write in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” If we are thinking intentionally about any one of these things, God will be honored and worry literally will have no place in our minds.

Meadows offers a full range of senior living options — independent living, Independent Living — Plus!, assisted living, skilled nursing care, memory care, respite care, and Achieve! Wellness and Rehab Therapy — with two locations: Meadows Mennonite in Chenoa, 309-747-3635, and Meadows at Mercy Creek in Normal, 209-268-1501. To learn more about senior living options at Meadows, visit