When it comes to worry, at least two things help distinguish us as followers of Jesus: what we are concerned about and what we do with our fears.
When the concerns of our heart show our love for others or bring us to our knees in recognition of what only God can do, they help us (psalm 119:67; 2 corinthians 11:28). But when our worries preoccupy us or weaken our trust in the Lord, we are letting them work against us.
Like doubt and fear, worry can either bring us to the Father in heaven, or it can drive us away from Him.
One important example is the way we think about our own mortality. It can bring us to the Lord, or it can feel so threatening that we put it out of our mind.
Yet as Jesus Himself taught us, we can allow our fear of the inevitable to help us to trust in Him. While encouraging His disciples not to worry about the small issues of life,
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (matthew 10:28).
Behind that loving warning was the fact that Jesus wants us to let Him take that worry on Himself. By dying to pay the penalty for our sins and then by rising from the dead to prove it, Jesus earned the right to say: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (john 5:24).
A decision to let the ultimate worry bring us to the One who died for us is the first step. From then on, every concern of life, regardless of how troubling, can help us to care for others or trust the Lord for what He alone can do.
Joanie Yoder concludes her story:
God eventually led me out of the cocoon that I had built around myself with a population of one. He did this by involving me in the leadership of a neighborhood Bible study. I believe I was able to minister to the women in the group effectively because they realized I needed Christ as much as they did. So I wasn’t a threat. I was an encouragement to their growth.
“God then led my husband and me overseas. One day we met a drug addict on the London subway, and we brought him home to live with us. Through him, and a few others that we brought home to live with us, I had my moment of truth. Up until then I had felt somewhat apologetic that I had to depend on God for things that many people do with very little effort. But through my involvement with these drug-dependent people, I realized that their cure, as well as mine, was not independence. The key was in being God-dependent.
“Through my experience with drug addicts, I discovered that dependence on God was something for which we were created. I also learned that what had been effective in a crisis was effective all the time. So I found that I could offer to a drug-dependent person a radical, shocking remedy. They had been taught to get rid of all the dependencies in their lives. But I was able to show them that the answer was in moving from drug-dependence to God-dependence—not replacing drugs with God, but moving to the one dependence for which we were created.
“How do you think people prefer to be won to Christ, assuming for discussion’s sake that they want to be won to Christ? Would they prefer to be won through strong people who look like they don’t know what it is to be weak? Or would they prefer to be won through weak people who have discovered how to be strong?
“I believe that without exception they would prefer the latter. Although we may think we are doing God’s service and impressing people for God by coming across as strong people, we may be depriving them of the last hope they had that God might have something for them. This is because their reaction is not, ‘Oh, that’s for me!’ Instead they say, ‘I could never be like that.’ But if they see a weak person who has learned to be strong and is still learning to take that strength from God, they will be filled with hope. They will say, ‘Wow! If that works for her, maybe there’s something in it for me.’
“Except for the truth that we’re all unique creations, I’m very ordinary. I identify with the average person. This is not only a fact; it is also my heart’s desire. Without Christ I would be a dead loss. In fact, I was introduced this way in a meeting once. They said, ‘This is Joanie, who without Christ would be a dead loss.’ At one time, that kind of introduction would have appalled me. But God has brought me to the place in my life where He’s allowed me to be a spectacle of weakness so that I can testify to others what God can do in and through human weakness. So if He can do it in and through me, why not them?
“Dependence on God is the theme of my life. My story is about a woman who had nothing in herself but found everything she needed through a life of dependence on God. It’s not a sad state of affairs to have to depend on God—it’s God’s perfect design. The creature becomes his or her very best when depending on the Creator. I used to depend on God as a last resort. Now it’s the first thing I do!
“The beginning of progress in my spiritual life was a rock-bottom experience. I didn’t look good. I didn’t feel good. But it was the most spiritual moment in my life. I hope this is an encouragement to others who are at that point. So often we think that to be spiritual we must always be on top. That’s not true. To be spiritual is to come to the place where there’s nothing of us and all of God.”