Worry. There’s no shortage of it in our society and throughout our daily lives, and for many it can feel inescapable. Instead of worry being an occasional encounter, we have learned to endure worry as part of the fabric of our lives. Worry has become woven into our regular rhythms, and for some, it’s become an identity. Maybe you or someone you know has said, “I’m a worrier. It’s just the way I am.” As a result, we live in a perpetual state of being worried.
The root of worry is fear. And fear doesn’t come from God. Thus, at the heart of worry is the devil. And Scripture is clear – the devil is a liar.
Jesus said about him: “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
To put it simply, worry isn’t just a bad habit. Worry is a tactic of the Enemy – a strategy built on lies that are designed to rob you of peace and tear invade your mind. That’s why it is crucial that you are able to spot the lies worry tells you and take back control of your thoughts.
THE FOUR LIES OF WORRY
Lie 1: Something really bad is going to happen.
We’ve all been tormented by this lie. Throughout the day, as we are confronted by different situations, we too easily tilt to the negative extreme and assume something bad is going to happen. But really, only a fraction of the things we worry about come to pass. A 2019 study from Penn State showed that roughly 91 percent of the things we worry about never even happen. But worry wants to convince you of what feels like the inevitability of every possible negative outcome. It tries to guarantee that your situation will end in the worst-case scenario.
There’s a quote often attributed to French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who framed this lie well when he wrote: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that bad things don’t happen in life. Obviously, your story and mine affirm that they do.
I’ve lost both my parents to long-term, debilitating diseases. Pain and suffering and loss are a part of our journey on a broken planet. Jesus underscored this when He said, “In this world you will have trouble . . .” The power to deflate worry, though, is found in how Jesus finished that sentence: “but . . . I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
So here’s the new reality that allows you to combat the lie that something bad is going to happen: most of what you’re spending your time worrying about won’t happen. If you know and believe this ahead of time, you can cut worry off from the onset because you’re now armed with the reality that “the worst” outcome statistically will not occur. The more you choose not to go down the path of worry, the better equipped you’ll become.
Now, again, that’s not to say that bad things won’t come our way, because unfortunately we live in a broken world filled with heartache, misfortune, and loss. But what it does mean is that we don’t have to overcommit our valuable time and attention toward what-if circumstances. If the what if happens, when something bad actually lands in your world, Jesus will give you what you need to overcome it.
Lie 2: The more you worry about it, the better your odds of avoiding it.
This is a tricky lie. Yes, we often have cause for concern
and preparation. But the Enemy wants you to believe that if you worry or fret over a certain outcome long enough, you can keep something bad from happening.
The reality is worrying has never once prevented something negative from happening. Planning might. Prayer has. But worry never will.
The Enemy tells you that by worrying about a situation (or every situation) you can make your tomorrow better. Really, worry just robs you of today. Jesus implored us:
Your best bet for being prepared for tomorrow is to lean in and trust God with what He has put in your hands today. And when the day turns over, repeat.
One of the greatest tools to help counter the temptation to worry is recalling the faithfulness of God. In every situation, worry wants you to think, "This is the one where everything is going to go off the rails". But the faithfulness of
God tells you otherwise. It says, “Today, I will do for you what I did yesterday, and the day before, and the days before that.” Faithfulness is the fuel of peace for today, while worry pushes you past today and into tomorrow.
Lie 3: I have no choice—I’m a born worrier.
As I mentioned above, I had some pretty amazing worriers in my house growing up. My dad was a champion at creating dreadful scenarios and spending his days drowning in the what ifs of every bad outcome. I would watch him and think, "Man, what’s wrong with him"?
Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, my dad had good cause to think that around every bend in the road, another frightful, lonely night awaited him. But as a kid, I had no clue about what was going on in his mind and heart. When I was a teen, I remember him having one particularly traumatic day. Being sixteen, I was clueless about most of the weight my parents were carrying. But that night, as I went to leave our apartment and walk to a friend’s house, he said, “I’ve just had the worst day of my life. I need everyone to just stay in the house tonight.”
I turned around and went back to my room.
Not sure what’s up with Dad, I thought. But whatever that was, I’m going to just say okay and stay in tonight.
What was going on at that moment? My dad was trying to let me know he was worried every time I left the house. And this night he couldn’t bear the burden of worrying on top of what he’d been through that day.
I only fully understood this when I was older and I started having the same feelings. I realized that I, too, could easily tip toward fearing a dreadful outcome. I would naturally obsess over the question, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
For a season, I just blamed this proclivity on my dad. "I’m a born worrier", I thought.
But that’s not my new spiritual reality. In Christ, I am born again, and “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Here’s the new reality for you and me. We may have a genetic tendency toward worry. And, more powerfully, we may have been weaned in a worrying culture. Worry is what we saw others do. Worry is what we learned. Worry is what we are prone to repeat.
But dear friends, if you are in Christ, all those old pat- terns were disrupted the instant you were born again. You have a new Father in heaven. He has never worried for one second in His eternal existence. He wasn’t worried yesterday. Nor is He today. He will not be worried tomorrow.
There’s no doubting the fact that He is concerned for you. He manages time and the affairs of men. He loves you. You are born into a new family as a daughter or son of God through Jesus Christ. And your new family is not a worrying family. Your new family is a family of sovereign peace, knowing that God is in control. And He is enough for you in every situation.
Lie 4: I can control the outcome by worrying.
Worry wants to convince you that if you think about the situation long enough, you can control the outcome. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the end, the reality is that you, by God’s grace, can control your choices and how you react to everything else. Period.
You are not God. While worry wants you to think you’re in the driver’s seat, worry really locks you in the trunk of the car (or “in the boot” for my English-speaking friends outside the US).
Jesus asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Think about that for a moment. None of us can add even a second to our day. He continued, “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25–26).
Worry keeps you up at night. It convinces you that if you work at it, you can solve every problem. But in the end, peace comes by admitting that you are not God. I am not God. Therefore, I am not in charge. I am not in control. I don’t run the show. I am simply a part of God’s plan. Yet, I know He loves me. So I will trust and obey.
When we adopt this mindset, our prayers shift from trying to get God to give us our desired outcomes to instead saying, “God, I repent of trying to be You. Have Your will and Your way in my life.”
Some could see this prayer as a cop-out. I see it as a beautiful surrender. Worry tells you that you are in charge. But who wants that job, anyway? Faith tells you the God who loves you is in charge. Your Maker is in control. You can trust Him. All His ways are good.
SPOT THE LIES AND START THE FIGHT
Those are four of the lies that worry loves to tell. They aren’t the only ones, but they are some of the most common. Fighting back against worry is like any other training regimen or discipline. At first, each effort feels a bit clunky and forced. If you’ve been sitting in worry for some time, it’s likely going to be an adjustment to begin to identify the lies. They may have become more camouflaged as you’ve become more acquainted with their presence over time.
But it’s never too late to start. And remember, through Jesus you have all the power you need to win this war on worry. Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit, who lives in you.”
That first step might feel exhausting or awkward. It’s like the first workout when you’re trying to get back in shape. But stick with it and keep showing up. Keep calling out the lies that worry is speaking and keep surrendering those lies to God, replacing them with the truths of His Word. I believe that if you commit and start down this path, the Spirit will continue to empower you to fight the good fight.
Worry ultimately spends a lot of time and effort trying to get you to avoid any and all hardships that might come against you. The closer you stay to God and the more you call out the lies of worry, the more you’ll come to realize that avoidance isn’t the desired outcome of the Christian life. No, the goal of the life of the believer is assurance.
Assurance is what turns a what if into an even if through the truth of what is. God is good. Loving. Kind. Mighty in power. Holy. Healer. He is, and because of that truth, you can have assurance no matter what comes against you.
WHY YOU NEED THIS BOOK
Pastor and bestselling author Louie Giglio understands the burden of anxiety, fear, and worry. He has experienced it first-hand. But he has also learned how to overcome worry by replacing anxious thoughts with the promises and truth in God’s Word. In his newest book, Winning The War On Worry, Louie reminds us that because of that truth, we can immediately start the process of resizing worry and replacing it with trust.
This little gem of a book is the perfect read for every pastor and a wonderful resource to give to those you are ministering to.