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Worry. The more we practice it, the better we get at it. Let me share a personal example of being pulled into old worry patterns. A son recently had a mediation day scheduled, the results of which would affect the quality of his life for the next many months. If he and his estranged spouse were able to resolve their differences they could finalize their divorce (which had already dragged on for many months) and move ahead with their separate lives. If not, she was determined to take it into a full-blown court battle, which her lawyer said would take anywhere from one to two years. In the meantime, they would be in limbo: my son would be unable to go to a singles ward or attend any church singles functions and the financial loss from such a battle would undoubtedly be great. The negative impact on their two children, I couldn’t imagine.
I’ve rarely wanted a specific outcome as much as I wanted that mediation to succeed. I put both their names on six temple prayer rolls the week before the mediation and was consumed with praying for what just had to be the best for them both: to avoid a court battle. The night before the mediation, I realized I was in a spiritual dilemma: I was truly afraid I couldn’t accept any other outcome than successful mediation, and I was consumed with worry. I couldn’t accept that the Lord’s will could be any different than mine in this situation.
I went to my husband and said, “I don’t know how to pray about this anymore. I’m afraid and worried.” He said something like, “You need to turn your prayers to thanks: thanks that these two people are both healthy, intelligent, able to provide for themselves; thanks that they will have the help of three well-trained people, the mediator and two lawyers to resolve their issues; thanks for two beautiful grandchildren who will continue to be in your life; thanks that the Lord is in charge and will be with them no matter what happens.”
I was stunned. Not once that week had my prayers been full of thanks. Not only that, my worry showed I was forgetting the theme song of my life: “Trust God No Matter What!” As I pondered his counsel, I felt that Doug was really telling me to focus on worshipping the God I trust instead of worrying that things wouldn’t go the way I wanted (which, by the way, they did). I changed my prayers, and periodically throughout the next day sent prayers of thanks up to the heavens.
Why Worry Doesn’t Work
Worry has been compared to a rocking chair; no matter how long or hard we rock, we don’t get anywhere. I remember the paradigm shift when I learned that worry is an affront to God. I previously thought that my worry showed I was loving and concerned and conscientious. But what does worry really show?
Worry suggests that we believe our own analysis, concerns and compulsion to fix things are somehow more valid than God’s over-arching, all-knowing view and purposes. When circumstances are far from how we may consider ideal, our worry also infers that we believe outcomes may be up to us; that we need to worry sufficiently to figure out exactly what we need to do to make things “turn out right.”
Worry makes us forget that the sum total of all we know, all we are able to figure out, all the knowledge and experience we have gained from every minute of our lives could not cover the head of a pin when compared with what God knows. All is NOW with God and He holds in His awareness—without one tiny time lapse—full knowledge of all that has transpired and will transpire, all the details of creation, the intents of all our hearts, the surety of fulfillment of His plans for the redemption of mankind. Not only does God know everything, He has all power to carry out His plans, to fulfill His promises. (See 1 Nephi 9:6: “But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words.”)
We have every reason to trust His plans for us because, “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation” (2 Nephi 26:24).
We Don’t Have to Figure It All Out
So often I think I have to figure things out and fix them. I’ve especially fallen into this trap in regard to my health challenges. I always want to understand why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling and what I can do to feel better. Some of that attitude may be good and lead to partial solutions. But did Job figure out why he had boils and what he needed to do to “fix” them? No, he praised God and maintained his faith and integrity, believing that even though he didn’t understand—at all—that God did, and that was all he needed.
So many of our problems do not lend themselves to analysis and understanding. God understands, and that may be all we need to know. Our loving Lord is likely to be the only One who understands most of our problems, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual. (See hymn 129, Where Can I Turn for Peace)
What we most need is to replace worry with love of God, praise of God, and trust in God. What we need is to remember that in nothing doth man offend God save he confess not his hand in all things. (See D&C 59:21)
Replacing Worry with Worship
Worship as a noun is defined as love, reverence, respect, devotion, adulation, and veneration. As a verb it is defined as to love, revere, adulate, deify, venerate, and pray to. Wikipedia tells us that “In Christianity, worship is reverent honor and homage paid to God. In the New Testament various words are used for worship. The word proskuneo ‘to worship’ means to bow down to Gods or kings.”
I’ve so often rightly felt that I was missing some of the true meaning of worship. For instance, temple worship: have I always gone to the temple to feel or do the above? More often I’ve gone to plead for help and answers. I’ve too often had a self-centered perspective, thinking of me and my problems, not God and His Attributes.
And isn’t that the crux of my spiritual blindness? I am so inclined to focus on the problem and the outcome I want instead of on God. I am so inclined to forget in the present moment my covenant to “remember Him always” but instead remember always my problems and limitations.
I rob myself of joy when I choose to focus on what I deem “wrong” in my current situation instead of what is “right” with God, His Plan of Happiness, His sure promises, His redemptive power.
What Worship Really Means
Worship means living the first and great commandment to love the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I’m not keeping that commandment when I’m obsessing with worry thoughts; in fact, I’m falling into Satan’s grasp because worry accomplishes his desires to make me miserable like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27). That same verse in 2 Nephi assures me that I have a choice in the matter. I don’t have to be miserable. I can choose love of God instead.
Worship is saying, “Thy will be done,” and meaning it, which enables me to give up my worry that my will won’t be done. It means letting go of outcomes and trusting them to God. Worship means I follow the commandment to give up seeking to counsel the Lord (Jacob 4:10) but seek counsel from His hand and rest in the sure knowledge that He is in charge and knows what’s best.
Worship means heeding His words “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). No other way can I find rest or peace except to come to Him with a worshipful heart full of praise and thanksgiving and trust.
True worship comes from a grateful heart. Is it possible to worship without gratitude? It’s doubtful. Worship brings the Spirit, the Spirit teaches the truth of gratitude because the truth is that what we have is enough . . . enough to sustain and grow us into what the Lord wants us to be.
Part of grateful worship is to believe and keep the commandment to thank the Lord in all things, trusting His long-range vision to take us where He wants us to be. Worship means loving God enough and believing enough to thank Him for His loving care even when we aren’t feeling it at the moment.
It means knowing He is there and that He loves His children even when the world seems to be falling apart all around.
Worship is the only true antidote for worry; worship is the way we rise above the troubles of this world and remember the promises of God. Worship is the pathway to overcoming the world with all its worries and cares. May we all choose to turn from worry to worship and find His peace.