We’re told not to worry and we know we’re supposed to praise instead. While praising is a wonderful general strategy for refocusing and reprioritizing our thoughts, are there any specific strategies for coping with valid concerns?
What He Did Say
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
– Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)
Verse 25 talks about not taking no thought for the material things of living. The word and its context at the time didn’t mean that deciding what pieces of clothing to wear today was wrong.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought—“Be not solicitous.” The English word “thought,” when our version was made, expressed this idea of “solicitude,” “anxious concern… 
What He Didn’t Say
- Pretend it’s going to be fine
- Pretend you’re going to get what you want
- Pretend there’s nothing wrong
How often when we tell ourselves not to worry, we are actually telling ourselves to delude ourselves about the current circumstances or the future resolution? We tell ourselves, “Don’t worry, it will all take care of itself.” Our mental salve for troubles and problems is to look for and hope for the resolution of the problem.
The problem getting removed or resolved will happen sometimes. Sometimes, however, it won’t. The point of this passage is not to guarantee perfectly smooth living; it’s to tell us how to work through troubles that haven’t gone away. The New Living Translation translates verse 25 with, “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” It’s not about being trouble free; it’s about being filled up with power and knowledge of how to work through the troubles as they come.
Working through Worry
Sometimes a quick praise prayer can knock worried, anxious thoughts out of our head. Sometimes, the thoughts are more stubborn than that and they need to be intentionally removed.
- Acknowledge the concern if it’s valid.
- Jesus didn’t say that worry is made up or crazy. There are truly troubling things in life and truly difficult patches that we or our loved ones are walking through. It’s not about faking your way out of things or trying to pretend that nothing is wrong.
- Don’t Let It Run with Your Mind
- While worries can be legitimate, worries can also run away with us. Our minds can be very imaginative with where things can go and taking things to a new level of problems doesn’t help us and doesn’t help us to trust the Lord. Acknowledge that today’s troubles are enough for today and you’re going to lean on the Lord through it.
- Realize that Worry Changes Nothing
- Sometimes we can be so anxious to feel like we’re doing something that we latch on to worry as something we can “do”. Because we’re focused on the problem, talking about it, or finding solutions in our own mind, we feel like we’re helping somehow. We’re not. Worry doesn’t do anything and it doesn’t change anything. If anything, it makes it worse.
- Worry Damages Your Faith
- Worry isn’t just useless or a waste of time; it can acutally damage your faith and your ability to see God’s goodness and power. Deep down, the root of worry is that somehow, in some way, God isn’t going to keep one of His promises: maybe you don’t belive that He will provide, maybe you don’t believe He truly loves you and knows what you need. Whatever the block is, if you allow your focus to go to worry, you are tearing away and your foundation of belief in God.
The Antidote to Worry
While it’s great to work our way through worry and finally feel like it’s defeated, it’s not complete to stop there. The antidote to worry is service to the kingdom of God. The verse that says, “… seek first the kingdom of God” wasn’t accidentally dropped into this passage. Our worry blinds us to the needs of others and the call of God. Once we’ve acknowledge the source of our worry (our disbelief) and surrendered that to God, we must act out that belief and the change in us by serving others. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; sometimes it’s just stepping up and making dinner on a night when you’d rather just curl up with a pint of ice cream. Maybe though, depending on your circumstances, getting out and serving others who are struggling, through more tradition outlets like serving the homeless or mentoring kids can be a huge help in keeping our perspective and humility before the Lord.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 28). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.