The Debilitating Power of Worry

I don’t like to admit it, but I’m a worrier.

I worry about the future. What’s COVID-19 going to do to the housing market? What affect will it have on employment and the overall economy? What’s going to be different?

I worry about the past. Was that the right decision? What did he mean by that statement? Have I been too harsh with my kids? Or too lenient?

I worry about the present. How can I provide for my family? Am I being a good husband? Father? Leader? What if something tragic happens to someone I love?

I know I’m not alone. We’ve all been given plenty to worry about these days. We worry about COVID-19 and its affect upon our physical, emotional, and financial health. We worry about the health and well-being of those we love. We worry about work (if we’re fortunate enough to have it right now). We worry about our relationships. We worry about our physical appearance, getting old, getting hurt, and missing out.

Worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems that many people live in. When we worry, we allow our minds to dwell on the difficulties and troubles, whether real or perceived. This can have disastrous affects on all aspects of our health.

What worry does to us

Worry causes stress

I have this spot in my neck and shoulder blade that tenses up whenever I worry. I have worried so much over the years that the knot in my neck decided to take up permanent residence. I’m not alone. According to people who know stuff, three-quarters of all visits to primary-care physicians are stress-related.

Worry causes irritability, muscle tension, and loss of sleep. It can lead to a loss of appetite or overeating. Continued worry can cause anxiety, depression and panic attacks. And perhaps most tragically, worry can result in a decreased sex drive.

Worry makes us sick

Several years ago, I became concerned with some chest pains I was having. Over the course of several weeks, the pain became more frequent and intense. I was freaking out! “I’m only 33 years old. I can’t be having a heart attack!”

I went to the doctor and ran through all of the questionnaires and tests. Thankfully, I wasn’t having a heart attack. The diagnosis? Stress. I was literally carrying the weight of ministry in my heart.

On a minor scale, worry can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and hypertension. But if sustained, worry can result in short-term memory loss, ulcers (and other digestive issues), suppression of the immune system, and yes, even heart attacks.

Worry can literally kill you.

Worry steals our joy

It’s as if we subconsciously think that if we worry enough, we can prevent bad things from happening. However, worry doesn’t stop bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.” When you’re constantly worried about what might go wrong, you don’t see and enjoy what’s going right (speaking from experience).

I don’t know how the late Earl Nightingale arrived at these insights about worry, but they intuitively seem right.

  • 40% of the things we worry about never happen.
  • 30% of the things we worry about have already happened and can’t be changed.
  • 12% is needless worries about our health.
  • 10% is petty/misc. worries.
  • Only 8% of what we worry about is true concern.

An estimated 92% of the stuff we worry about is a pointless waste of emotional energy.*

Worry keeps us from enjoying the moment. It arrests our dreams for the future. Worry prevents us from taking worthwhile risks, and ultimately, from trusting God.

Worry is a constant companion for many of us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have peace instead of fear and anxiety when faced with uncertainty?

We can!

UP NEXT: Why We Can Have Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty


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