If I worry, am I doubting God?
Are you doubting God if you worry? Possibly not. But also, maybe, yes. So it’s a good question to ask and a wise one for us to dig into a little deeper.
The definition of worry
First, let’s identify what you mean by worry.
When you say, “I’m worried about my health, finances, grandchildren, the state of our world, or anything else,” what do you mean that you are worried? Do you really mean that you are concerned?
You can be concerned about your health. So you follow your trusted doctor’s advice, eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. But in the end, you know that your times are in God’s hands.
You can be concerned about your finances. So you have a budget and stick to it, you decide not to go out to eat for a fourth time this week, and you might even get a second job to help pay the bills. But at the same time, you trust that it is God who will give you your daily bread today and tomorrow.
You can be concerned about your grandchildren, the choices they are making, the influence the world is having on them, or their neglect of the means of grace. But at the same time, you pray for them and ultimately entrust them to the Lord’s care.
You can be concerned about the state of our world and the evil and suffering you are seeing. But you still can trust that God is both almighty and good and he rules and reigns over all.
You can be concerned about all these types of things, and in many ways, I’d be concerned if you were not concerned. But you can also go beyond concern and begin to worry about them. And that, my friend, would be doubting God.
Maybe you just need to be more careful with your words and express that you are concerned rather than using the word worry so loosely. But if these situations do cause you to worry, then it is doubting God.
Worry is a sin
Jesus clearly states in his Sermon on the Mount, three times in ten verses, “Do not worry” when it comes to the things of this life (Matthew 6:25-34). If Jesus tells us not to do something, it’s probably not a good thing to do. In fact, if we do anything God tells us not to do, it would be sinful.
If you worry about your health, your finances, your grandchildren, the state of this world, or a plethora of other situations, you are not trusting God. Worry is doubting who God is and what he promises you in his Word. Worrying is saying in so many words, “God, you really can’t do what you say you will” or “You really aren’t in control” or “You really aren’t true to your word” or any variation of those thoughts. If you worry like that, you cannot be truly trusting in God above all things.
The effects of worry
There are many potential physical effects of worry—gastrointestinal disorders, a compromised immune or nervous system or heart problems, just to name a few.
But the spiritual effects of your worry are even more dangerous. Jesus rightly schools you—and you probably even know from experience—that worrying can’t add a single hour to your life (Luke 12:25). Yet your worry will lead you to think that you are in control and God is not. Worry takes your focus off of God and puts it on yourself. Jesus told Martha she was worried about many things and missed out on what was most needful: sitting at his feet, listening and learning from him (Luke 10:41,42). Worry can be a slippery slope that can lead to despair and unbelief. Jesus warns us about this in the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed that fell among the thorns was in a dangerous place where faith can be choked by the worries of this life (Matthew 13:22).
What to do with worry
As a Christian you can be concerned, and there are rightly many things for you to be concerned about in this sinful life. But you are not to worry. Your worrying is doubting God.
So if you struggle with worry, what are you to do with it and about it?
God invites you to bring the things in life that concern you and unload them on the One who can actually do something about them.
First, go back to Calvary’s cross. See all your worry, your doubting, your futile thinking that you are in control . . . see all these sins nailed there. See your Savior’s innocent blood that was shed for all these sins.
Go back not only to the death of your Savior but also to the life of your substitute. Look to the One who tells you, “Do not worry,” and see he is also the One who never worried. Was Jesus concerned throughout his earthly life? Most certainly, on many occasions. But he never worried. He perfectly trusted his heavenly Father and always entrusted himself to his care. Never did he doubt his heavenly Father’s promises, plans, or purposes. This perfection is all for you. Your Savior and substitute, in life and in death, has set you free from all your sins of worry. You are forgiven!
Loved, redeemed, and forgiven, you now hear Jesus’ call not to worry and say, “Yes! Strengthen my faith. Take away my doubts. Remind me that you are in control and that you love me, you are always with me, and I am yours now and forever.”
God invites you to bring the things in life that concern you and unload them on the One who can actually do something about them. He commands you to “cast all your anxiety [the same Greek word Jesus uses for worry] on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He encourages you to “not be anxious [worry, again] about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” and then to know that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7).
The night before he carried all your sins to the cross, Jesus said—to his disciples and to you—“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Someday, in the eternal day, all those troubles that tempt you to worry will be gone forever. Until then, through the continual strengthening of your faith through Word and sacrament, your God helps you let go of your worry and cling to him and his almighty, gracious providence and promises. He is more than willing to repeat those promises to you over and over, as often as you need to hear them, so that you can be what God desires you to be: “Like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
Author: Aaron Bublitz
Volume 109, Number 08
Issue: August 2022
- Please explain: If I worry, am I doubting God? - 2022/07/28