Worry creates pause.
In the middle of a recent conversation, the thought above hit me. Worry creates pause. When we worry, something happens, and that something is generally not good. Worry creates anxiety. Worry perpetuates the cycle of fear. Worry creates stress. Worry creates crazed “what-if?” scenarios to run through your mind. I know because I’ve been there far too many times in my life.
My word for 2020 is “tenacity.” Tenacity means:
- the quality of being tenacious, or of holding fast; persistence
- the quality of retaining something
- the quality or property of holding together firmly
Worry can’t coincide with tenacity, and common sense isn’t the same as worry. Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, various words were used that have loosely been translated into our modern, simple English word “worry.” Because the Hebrew or Greek word wasn’t always the same, the variation of “worry” meant slightly different things. For instance, it could have meant “anxious,” “envious,” “troubled” or “misgivings” among a few other things. Regardless of the variation, the directive to combat worry was clear—do something regardless of the outcome.
That’s hard, right? Because, did I mention the word “worry” also means “doubt” in some verses? Worry is doubt—no matter the size of that doubt, and worry or doubt creates pause. Pause for what you may ask? A pause can mean time for God to continue to work on my heart and your heart about trust and faith. And often, that time of teaching causes a delay. And, if you have ever been stuck in a traffic delay, you know it often makes you late for something and sometimes causes you to miss something altogether.
Is worry causing you to get back on the hamster wheel as God is trying to teach you the same thing again? Or worse, is worry causing you to be late for the work He has asked you to do, maybe even miss out on a miracle or an opportunity entirely?
Two distinct and different accounts in the Bible come to mind when I think of worry. The first, David and Goliath and the second, Peter sinking in the water.
David was minding his business doing his job when Samuel sent for him (1 Samuel 16:11). David wasn’t looking to be king or change anything about who he was, but David was obedient and came when he was called. Samuel anointed this young, shepherd boy with oil, and then David continued to do what he was called to do in the fields. One day, Saul sent for David (1 Samuel 16:19). After that, David served Saul and continued to care for his sheep. In an act of service, David, following Saul’s orders, took food to his brothers on the battlefield. Seeing the giant Goliath, the Israelite army ran away in fear, but David said, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). His brothers, who were among those who ran away in fright, became angry and mocked David because he was talking to the other soldiers. However, Saul heard what David had asked and sent for him.
Without hesitation, doubt, worry, or pause, David told Saul, “Don’t worry about this Philistine. I will go and fight him!” (1 Samuel 17:32).
Saul’s response, “Don’t be ridiculous!” (1 Samuel 17:33).
The difference? The Spirit of the Lord had left Saul at this point in the story, but the Spirit of the Lord had come powerfully upon David the moment he was anointed with oil by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13).
Now, let’s move on to the New Testament and look at Peter. After witnessing the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the disciples went out on their boat to cross to the other side of the lake. Jesus stayed behind so that He could go away to pray by himself. A storm kicked up. In the middle of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the water (Matthew 14:25). How did the disciples respond? They were “terrified in their fear” (Matthew 14:26).
How did Jesus respond? He said, “Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Jesus said don’t worry guys. I am here. I’ve got this.
The disciple, Thomas, has always been given the bad rap of being the worrier, but Peter had his own issues with worry, doubt, and fear.
Somehow, Peter in his fear and worry, forgot what happened when Jesus calmed a previous storm. In our Bible, this account happened just six chapters prior to this account (Matthew 8:23–27). And yet, Peter was still living life with this nagging worry about who Jesus really was.
He responded to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water” (Matthew 14:28). Peter tested the Lord, and thankfully for Peter, Jesus was walking out His gift of patience with Peter.
Jesus told Peter to come on over so Peter climbed out of the boat. Peter responded quickly and climbed over, but all of a sudden, he became aware of his situation, took his eyes off of Jesus and put them on his situation (i.e., doubt, worry, and fear crept in), and as a result, Peter began to sink in the water.
Please read this. JESUS ALLOWED PETER TO SINK. How far would it have gone had Peter not cried out to Jesus? I have no idea, but thankfully, Peter didn’t have to find out. Peter cried out, and Jesus grabbed him. As Jesus grabbed Peter, Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:31).
Back to David. We don’t see David hesitate or doubt. When David figured out Saul’s armor just wasn’t going to work, he took it off and grabbed some stones and his slingshot. David didn’t sink but instead was wildly successful. Why? Trust and faith not worry and doubt ruled in David’s heart. David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:37).
David never saw God in person and trusted, yet Peter walked with Jesus and doubted.
“Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’” (John 20:29)
The difference maker? The Spirit of the Lord. David possessed the Spirit. Peter, while he walked with Jesus, didn’t.
Rashness isn’t courage or good but if the Lord is calling you to something, are you responding like David or like Peter (prior to the Day of Pentecost)? Peter’s demeanor radically changed after he received the Spirit.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to voluntarily contribute to pausing in my life and risk missing out on the best Jesus has for me. All my days, I want to harness the courage available to me because of the Spirit that lives within me while tenaciously trusting and pursuing the Lord. I hope you do, too.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on sandalfeet.org.
Featured Image by Erda Estremera