The Strength-Depleting Spiral of Worry

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” (Corrie ten Boom)

I drug myself out of bed, unwrapping myself from another fitful sleepless night. Worry had robbed me of blessed rest and now to face the day—teaching six Bible classes, preparing a final exam, and somehow getting supper on the table—I wanted to quit before I began.

What was wrong with me?

It was twelve years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. My mind was filled with the sorrow of loss and the terror of the future. Worry had become my closest companion and its fellowship was completely robbing me of strength. I thought about that dark season yesterday when a woman contacted me with questions about her tendency to worry.

Worry is a natural default position.

Trust is a supernatural “rest position.”

What I mean by worry being my natural “default position” is that I will gravitate toward worry unless I intentionally put forth effort to go in a different direction. When I default to worry, I am not resting, but actually I’m sucked into a downward-strength-depleting spiral.

Worry happens when I’m filled with fear because of the frightening unknowns. The only antidote to that kind of terror is an abiding confidence in something or someone who is in a position to positively resolve the unknowns.

Experiencing trust happens as I become better acquainted with God’s character.

Two years ago, my Scripture focus for the year was:

[box]Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)[/box]

Do you ever read that passage with a bit of a cynical attitude? Maybe you’re even tempted to doubt this could happen. Ever feel like saying: “Yeah, ‘easy and light’ . . . right . . .”?

I have.

I’ve struggled thinking, “I’m trying to find rest in You, I’m trying to experience that easy yoke, but this is really hard right now!”

Twelve years ago, my nights were filled with horrifying fears and crushing disappointment. I desperately wanted to find that place of “rest” that this passage talks about, but my world had been rocked and I was shaken to the core. Worry was my default position.

When my mind is filled with worry what am I doing?

  • Worry focuses on future unknowns.
  • Worry invents future events and imagines a non-reality.
  • Worry is fueled by fear and robs me of hope.
  • Worry’s basis is the evidence of past painful events.
  • Worry wears away my confidence in God’s faithful character.

(Obviously this list is incomplete. Feel free to add to it in the comments below.)

I’ve still got much to learn, but I want you to know, I’ve found that place of rest—even in the midst of the craziness of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and terror attacks. His promise really is true. There is a sweet place of security in His yoke.

The key is found in what Jesus said just before He talked about climbing into the yoke. He said “Learn from Me . . .” If I will allow Him to lead me and teach me, I will learn how to have peace while walking through crisis.

Today, I’ve laid out a description of what worry looks like, tomorrow we’ll continue looking at worry and consider the battle plan for worry.

Want to add to my list?

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  • Rache'l Campbell

    Thank you Kim for the wonderful dose of truth for today! I think most women can identify with this, especially as we get older…still caring for the needs of our “expanding” families and ministering to others around us.

  • Becky Arnold

    Fear — or worry — has always been my greatest sin temptation. My go-to sin. It was so automatic. Natural instinct. I found that it reared its ugly head at night when I wanted a respite from my fear. I couldn’t shut my mind off. Sleep was elusive. My fear intensified at night. Like you, I found myself doing a study in scripture on what started as fear but became about faith. The one thing I would add to your list is that I found that fear made me a wimpy pray-er. I only wanted relief. Out. Rest in my mind and heart. Yet as I began to learn faith instead of fear and worry, I began to remember that God has all of these blessings that are mine (Ephesians 1:3). I wasn’t tapping into the riches of this great faith. I was running to the LORD for my help (Psalm 121:1-2), but wasn’t reading the last of verse 2. I was running to the LORD “who made heaven and earth.” Wow. What wimpy prayers to an almighty God who has endless treasure stores! As my faith grew so did my prayers. This God I serve is the same God who rolled the Red Sea back for Moses. He raised Jesus from the dead. He fed the 5,000 (several times). He made the walls fall in Jericho using a million people walking around them quietly then yelling on the 7th day. He could easily take of me. I’m sorry for the length of this, but this is where I lived for so long — and I’m still tempted to go back to Egypt! Back to fear and worry. BUT GOD continues to give me opportunities to grow and exercise the greater faith He is giving me. The more I look back at His faithfulness, the easier it is to look ahead with hope and courage because I know He is there. Thanks for the post, Kim.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Don’t apologize for the length of your comment, Becky, I loved hearing your heart and some of your faith journey! Your comment will serve as an encouragement to many others who struggle with fear!

    So thankful that we serve the God of Red Sea moments and worry-abolishing works!

    Blessings, friend ~

  • Kathryn

    This is an excellent post and I cannot think of anyone I know who has not struggled with worry at various times of their lives. Thank God that he delivers us from ALL our fears and gives us His word to help us. God bless you.

  • Julie Musil

    Worry is definitely my default position. This year I’m learning to trust and to rest. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m closer than I was. I’m learning that God is at work in my mess.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Kathryn ~

    Thank you for your encouragement! So glad you were blessed by the post. Hope you’ll check out the battle plan to deal with worry on tomorrow’s post 🙂