What does the Bible say about worry, specifically when it comes to worrying about the future? How can a Christian overcome anxiety according to the Bible? And what should you do if you fear the future?
The best way to overcome worry of any kind is to increase your faith in God. However, that can be rather vague advice. So what actions steps should someone take when they are attempting to increase their trust in God to overcome worry?
Here are 4 ways to stop worrying about the future.
- Plan for the Future Wisely
The Bible does not say to not plan. It says to not worry. One passage that is often misquoted and used as an excuse to not plan or work hard is Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes.” Nowhere in this verse did Jesus say not to work or not to plan. He clearly said not to worry.
Sometimes you should feel anxious if you are being negligent about the future. Sometimes God puts a healthy pressure on us to motivate us to act. If you procrastinate and know you are not planning well for the future, you should not be at peace.
Peace is not the freedom to escape responsibility. Peace is knowing that no matter how much you plan, bad things can still happen, and so ultimately you must trust God with everything, for as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Jesus said put God first, but he never said to be irresponsible with your earthly responsibilities. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 20:4 states, “Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.”
So one way to stop worrying about the future is to make a wise plan for the future. Of course you must trust God and not your planning, but if you don’t plan and you are irresponsible then you will be anxious. If you plan and don’t trust God you will be anxious too, but if you plan and trust God you should have no fear.
- Pray About the Specific Needs You Have and Seek God for a Specific Action Plan
Many times we have anxiety about the future because we are not spending time in prayer in the present. It’s one thing to pray, but to truly overcome worry about the future, you must pray about the specific issues you are worried about.
In addition to praying about these concerns, it is also helpful to ask God what he wants you to actually do. Prayer is a must but prayer without action is missing half the equation to biblical faith. Faith without works is dead as James 2:17 states.
So to overcome worry, you must pray, but also come up with specific action steps. If are worried about never getting married one day, what is God asking you to do right now? Is he saying to focus on yourself and keep maturing? Is he saying stop focusing on yourself, you are mature enough, and you need to start actually interacting with the opposite sex? What specifically is the Lord leading you to do?
When you can answer these questions you will stop worrying about the future.
- Live a Meaningful Life Right Now
Worry is really a corrupted use of thinking. Thinking is good. Planning is good. But worry occurs when we think and plan without trusting God too.
Sometimes we can actually think and plan too much. Again, it is good to be wise and plan, but if you overdo it you will actually be producing more anxiety in yourself by planning too much. For example, if you are worried about going out on a date with someone, it could help ease your anxiety by coming up with some good conversation starters so you don’t have any of those odd periods of silence.
However, if you try to plan a perfect response for every possible question you might get asked and you try to memorize 50 important questions to ask this person, you are planning too much and thus you will produce anxiety in yourself.
Eventually you just have to move forward and live your life as you walk with God in the present. You can’t plan for everything. But you can always trust that God will be with you as you seek to glorify him and live a meaningful life right now rather than wasting your life by thinking and planning too much.
If you think and plan more than you experience real life, this is imbalanced. You should spend more time living in the present than you do planning for the future. If your life is not filled with enough important things to actually do, then you probably need to increase your commitment levels and create some healthy obligations for yourself. When you volunteer to serve or start leading a ministry, these healthy responsibilities will not allow you to sit home and overthink.
Overthinking is a sign of under-living.
- Dedicate Yourself to Following God Even if the Worst-Case Scenario Happens in the Future
Perhaps the most important step to take to stop worrying about the future is to fully accept the possibility of what you fear the most.
Perhaps you are sick and you are struggling with the fear of the unknowns. Perhaps you are single and you fear the possibility of never getting married. Perhaps you are a parent and you fear the idea of your children not living for Christ as adults. Perhaps you fear the possibility of not having enough money in the future.
Whatever your fear, you have to decide before hand what you are going to do if that fear actually happens. Once you decide in your heart that even if the worst occurs, you are going to follow God and glorify him anyway, this will set you free from worry.
As Jesus said in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
When you give up your version of happiness and you choose to follow God no matter what, you will find peace. This is what Jesus himself had to do before the cross. He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus overcame worry by resolving to follow the Father no matter what happened in the future. This is the path to peace for us as well.