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God's promised peace answer to worry

link Curtis Shelburne

Religion columnist

“Hi, I’m Curtis, and I’m a worry-holic.”

That’s the way I’d introduce myself at a Twelve Step program for worriers and anxiety addicts. And maybe there are some. Programs for worriers, I mean. I should check on this.

But come to think of it, I’m already involved in one. It’s called the church. Not everyone there is a worrier, but more than a few fit the bill. People just like me who wage a daily battle with worry and are as prone to reach for it as an alcoholic is to reach for a bottle when the stress piles up. Or when the sun comes up.

We read the Apostle Paul’s command, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6), but we botch it so often that we’re tempted to despair. We worry about worrying.

For some of us, it would be real progress if we could say with Charlie Brown, “I’ve adopted a new philosophy: I only dread one day at a time.”

Like many alcoholics, I seem every now and then to make a good stab at success. For a few days (or minutes), I can almost follow that divine injunction: “Have no anxiety about anything ...” I’m best at it when I’m asleep, or, this works for me, when I’m singing.

Sometimes I think it might even be more than half true to say that, as I’m getting older, maybe in some areas I’m learning, by God’s grace, to deal with worry at least a little better than I once did. Maybe I’m seeing a little improvement. (But count the “maybes.”)

Then too often I seem to wake up wallowing in worry, and any idea of slight progress melts like morning dew. It was mostly an illusion. And, yet again, I can’t believe what a poor showing I’ve made, that once again I’m a casualty in the war with worry.

Pick any front in the war. Satan can lob anxiety missiles our way from any number of directions.

Finances. Groceries and gas, your “out-go,” are going up at a rate steadily ahead of your income.

Marriage. Mars and Venus sometimes wobble in their orbits. Collisions, almost cosmic for some folks, can happen.

Work. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. You love it. You hate it. You . . . worry about it.

Parenthood. Count on it: The anxieties popping up in this most fertile field for worry are perennials.

Health. The doc says you must de-stress, a prescription guaranteed to immediately add significantly to your stress.

But Jesus seems serious about it when he says, “Do not worry about your life” (Matt. 6:24a).

The Apostle Paul not only commands, “Don’t be anxious,” he says, “Pray!” And he adds a great promise: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God’s promised peace, the real thing and not our feeble attempts at calm, is exactly the strong “guard” lots of us need in the battle. Each day. Each moment.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at

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