Skip to content ↓

Not Worrying ≠ Not Caring

worry

Those nights when you lie awake, restless and tossing and turning, your mind churning over a future that is uncertain and unknown. Those days when your heart is heavy and your spirit is sorrowful while you imagine what will befall you or that person you love. There isn’t a human being alive who doesn’t know the agony of worry. There isn’t a human being alive who hasn’t allowed legitimate concern to devolve into illegitimate anxiety. But just because worry is universal does not mean it is right or good. To the contrary, God warns us against it: “Be anxious for nothing,” he says, and “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”

But it’s not so easy in the moment, is it? If God forbids worry, why do we still spend so much time doing it? If God warns us against anxiety, why we do we still find ourselves racked with fear as we consider what we’ve done and are doing and will do? Why do we waste days and squander nights in the joyless captivity of worry?

Our willingness to fret about something is not a necessary indication that we care deeply about it.

We think worrying is caring. We associate the issue or concern with the anxiety we feel for it. In fact, we may go so far as to sanctify our anxiety, to elevate it to the status of virtue. “I worry so much because I care so much.” And maybe we turn on people who don’t feel the same: “You don’t worry because you don’t care.” But worrying is not caring. Or, to turn it around, not worrying does not equal not caring. Our willingness to fret about something is not a necessary indication that we care deeply about it. Our unwillingness to fret about something is not a necessary indication that we are ambivalent about it. In those times we are fearful or uncertain, we can make ourselves believe that our worrying displays just how much we care, just how much our hearts are engaged. But it’s a false connection. The fact is, we can care deeply and never feel a single pang of worry.

We thinking worrying is effectual. “Effectual” is “producing or able to produce a desired effect.” We want our problem to be fixed and convince ourselves worrying will help. We think our worrying will accomplish something. Especially, we think our worrying may convince God just how much we care and cause him to respond to our pleas. But worry is not effectual. It does not accomplish anything—or anything good, at least. Worry is not the means through which God wants us to express our desperation to him. Worry is not the means through which God hears us or responds to our pleas. Worry is not a shortcut to the ear of God or the key to unlock his attention. To the contrary, it may be the very opposite. Our worry may cause God to allow our trial to continue until we have calmed our hearts and submitted them to his good purposes.

God does not mean for us to worry, but to pray. He does not mean for us to bear our own burden through anxiety, but to entrust it to him through prayer. It is not God’s will that we fret, that we feel deep anxiety, that we spend days and nights running over all the terrible possibilities in our minds. Rather, we are to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt us, casting all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us” (1 Peter 5:6-7). His care, not our anxiety, is our refuge. When we hand it all to him, we can truly be anxious for nothing. We can care deeply without worrying for as much as a moment.


  • Our Salvation Through Christ

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers and this post is adapted from The Kindness of God by Nate Pickowicz (© 2024). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission. Just like the Old Testament, the New Testament teaches that this wonderful salvation is extended to us as a kindness. Paul opens his letter…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 18)

    A La Carte: The pursuit of (which) happiness? / Don’t hastily choose elders / The evangelistic nature of awe / What you read builds who you are / Till he was strong / A father’s threads of living faith / Logos deals / and more.

  • Lets Hear It For the Second Parents

    Let’s Hear It For the Second Parents

    While today we tend to associate step-parents with divorce, in previous centuries they were almost exclusively associated with death and with either widow- or widowerhood. In an era in which lifespans were shorter and, therefore, a greater number of parents died while their children were still young, there was a distinct and honored role for…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 17)

    A La Carte: Honor good fathers and bad fathers alike? / Don’t give up, dad / How I respond to pride month / 5 myths about the pro-life movement / A seminar on biblical counseling / How do I know if I’m one of the elect? / Kindle deals / and more.

  • The Glorious End without the Difficult Means

    The Glorious End without the Difficult Means

    Just as Olympic athletes cannot realistically expect to win a gold medal unless they strictly discipline themselves toward victory, Christians cannot hope to prevail in the Christian life unless they take a serious, disciplined approach to it. Yet lurking in the background is always the temptation to hope that we can have the result of…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (June 15)

    A La Carte: Learn to rest in God’s justice / 3 reasons why your small group is not a church / How can I be a godly father? / Gender in the void / Are images of Christ OK? / The getting of wisdom / and more.