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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

A Reader Asks: If Bad Things Can Happen Then Why Not Worry?

Question from Microsoft Publisher ClipartWhy Not Worry?

A few days ago a reader emailed a question someone had raised in her small group —

How is it not justifiable to worry about a fear that comes true? 

For example, if I fear cancer for years, then get cancer, I feel justified for fearing it because I was right.  Can you speak to that?

I’m sure many have wondered about this, so I thought I’d post my answer here.

Dear Reader

Thanks for sharing this question.  Here’s my restatement of what the person is asking —

I hear that I should not worry or be afraid; that instead of worrying or being afraid, I should trust God.  But why not worry or be afraid if bad things can actually happen to me?

This is a crucial question.  So let’s start here —

Can Bad Things Actually Happen To Believers?

The questioner is right.  Bad things can happen to believers.  Look at these Scriptures —

In the world you will have tribulation. (John 16:33)

… through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.  (Acts 14:22)

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Phil 1:29)

So Jesus promises that those who trust Him will experience bad things — trials and tribulation and suffering.

But if that’s true, then how can we not worry? Why would we not be afraid?

It’s because God gives us three wonderful promises which can fill us with peace and free us from fear.

First — God promises to fill you with joy in Christ now and forever.

Look at how David describes God in Psalm 16:11 —

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Through trusting Christ you are not only forgiven for all your sins.  You will also have times when God shows you Jesus’ glory so powerfully that you overflow with joy.

This is not joy in health or wealth — those are minor league joys.  This is joy in God as He is revealed in Christ — infinite joy, all-satisfying joy, overwhelming joy.

This is the heart of the Christian life: seeking and experiencing the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.  That’s taught in Scriptures like Psa 4:6-7; Psa 73:25-26; Matt 13:44; John 4:13-14; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Phil 3:8; and 1Pet 1:8.

Second — God promises to use every trial to bring you even more joy in Christ.

That’s what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17 —

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…

Paul says our earthly trials are momentary and light when compared to the everlasting and weighty joy of knowing Christ.

And — he says our trials here on earth are preparing this eternal weight of glory for us.  Which means that God will use every trial to show us more of Jesus’ glory, so we experience more joy in Jesus’ glory now and forever.

So every trial that comes your way is a gift from God of more heart-satisfying joy in Jesus’ glory.  That’s taught in Scriptures like Rom 5:3-5; 2Cor 12:9; James 1:2-4; and 1Pet 1:3-8.

But what about all the problems created by trials?  That’s the final promise —

Third — God promises to take care of every problem created by every trial.

Take cancer, for example.  That would create lots of problems — decisions that have to be made, suffering that must be endured, bills that must be paid — and on and on.

But look at what God promises —

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)

Every need — including wisdom to make tough decisions (James 1:5), grace to suffer (2Cor 9:8), money for medical bills (Matt 6:33), and strength to keep going (Phil 4:13).

God will fully supply every need brought about by every problem.

Trusting God’s Promises

Can you see how trusting these promises will free you from fear and worry?

Imagine facing a difficult, painful, exhausting 20-mile hike up and over a high mountain.  That might fill you with fear and worry.

But what if it was guaranteed that during the hike you’d receive everything you needed — encouragement, water, granola bars, strength, everything.

And — what if it was guaranteed that at the end of the hike you’d receive fifty million dollars.  Whoa.

Now how would you feel about the hike?  Would you worry?  Feel fear?  No.  You’d want to start hiking.

So here’s the good news — Jesus’ glory is infinitely more satisfying than fifty million dollars.

And — God promises to use every trial to bring us more joy in Christ.

And — God promises to take care of every need produced by every trial.

But there’s a problem.  Sin makes us doubt these promises.

So what we must do is —

Fight The Fight Of Faith

When you are fearful or worried about a trial, that shows sin is making you doubt God’s promises.  So you need to go to war, with prayer and God’s Word, to conquer your unbelief and strengthen your faith.

So here are steps I’ve found helpful.

Start by turning your heart toward Jesus.  Come to Him just as you are — with your doubts, fears, and worries (Luke 18:13).

Confess any known sin and receive assurance that you are completely forgiven through Christ’s death (1 John 1:9).

Ask Him for more of the Spirit’s work to conquer your unbelief and strengthen your faith in His promises (Luke 11:13).

Read and pray over each of the three promises listed above, along with other relevant Scriptures, until you feel the Holy Spirit strengthening your faith that —

  • Jesus is your all-satisfying joy now and forever.
  • God will use every trial to bring you even more joy in Christ.
  • God will take care of every other need you have.

As you fight the fight of faith, you will experience the Spirit strengthening your faith.  You will feel your worry and fear disappear.  And you will be filled with peace — and even joy.

So start hiking.

Questions?  Comments?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

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Category: Fearful or Worried?

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14 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    Taking a look at your last two posts, fear of bad things happening to us, and taking refuge in God when we feel overwhelmed are strongly linked. Fears and trials, and just the pressures of life itself, will in most cases cause us to draw near to God. Most folks don’t turn away from their faith and church because they flame out, it is usually a case of just fading away. So perhaps, the underlying fears and trials we face are actually there for our benefit, we need to be constantly reminded of our need for faith.

    I saw an article the other day titled “Going to church is an act of war” though it may be a bit overstated, there is much truth to the idea. Staying connected to the body, reading the Word, going to church, weeping with those who weep, and rejoicing with those who are rejoicing, is bore out of a choice to do what God calls us to do.

    Here’s a quote by C. S. Lewis that captures what I’m trying to say.

    “if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe.

    “Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away? “

    -C. S. Lewis

    I think James was on to something when he said “count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds.”
    The trials we fear, well one thing is certain, they may keep us from fading away.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for sharing such helpful thoughts. I agree — trials and difficulties are gifts from God to bring us closer to Him.

      Let’s keep fighting the fight of faith, brother, and helping each other fight.

      Steve

  2. Patti Ver Burg says:

    Steve, these scriptures about our joy in Christ have deeply encouraged me today. My need was great. Thank you for helping me refocus.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Patti,

      Thank you so much for letting me know — and it’s a joy to hear from you! We have such wonderful memories of time with you and Bob years ago. Much love to you both.

      Steve (and Jan)

  3. Erin Lee says:

    Steve,

    I LOVE the hiking metaphor! I’m going to use that with myself and other people. To be equipped AND rewarded…when you put it that way, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing most of the legwork around here, but God is.

    Erin

  4. Roy says:

    If God Promised me Joy NOW and forever, why can’t I ever find any? How can I trust that every trial will bring
    me more joy in Him when none of them have ever brought me any?

  5. Roy says:

    A promise of 50 million wouldn’t mean anything until it was kept and you reieved it would it?

  6. Roy says:

    How would it feel if you heard that promise at the beginning of many brutal hikes and you never recieved what you were promised

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Roy,

      Thank you for raising such honest and serious questions. Here are some thoughts:

      When the Bible teaches that trials will bring us more joy now, it’s not that the trials will bring us more joy in our circumstances or situation in life. Our life circumstances might not improve at all.

      But it’s that as trials cause us to draw closer to Jesus Christ in earnest trust, we see Him more clearly and trust Him more deeply. This will fill our hearts with joy. Not joy in circumstances, but joy in Jesus Christ Himself.

      And that joy is the same joy you tasted when you were first saved, and the Holy Spirit gave you a heart-taste of Jesus’ glory (2Cor 3:18; 2Cor 4:6).

      Does that help answer your question? If not, let me know.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  7. Roy says:

    How can they make me draw closer in ernest trust ? I don’t see Him clearer or trust Him at all because every time I turn to Him or call out to Him I find nothing. Why Iis that?

  8. Roy says:

    I have never experienced ANY joy in Jesus Christ, although I long to.I experienced hope at first that I would experience love and joy frim Him but that hope has been disapointed so many times it’s pretty much gone

  9. Roy says:

    How are trials supposed to make you draw closer or trust more when they make you cry out to him for His help, to experience some love or closeness and pain, and silence is all you find?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for the follow-up questions, Roy.

      I wish we could talk in person. It sounds like all you’ve experienced is disappointment, and hopelessness. My heart goes out to you.

      Because your question is so important, and because I’m sure other readers can relate to it, I’m thinking of writing a blog post on this topic — Lord willing, it will be uploaded Tuesday.

      I’m going to list some of the main reasons why I myself and others I’ve known don’t experience joy in Christ. Then I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      I’m praying that God will use some of this to bring you help and encouragement.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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