Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” (ESV)
Who hasn’t felt the weight of anxiety? Who hasn’t felt the overwhelming burden of worrying about what is going on (or will go on, or might go on . . . maybe)? I think we all struggle with worry sometimes. Some of us struggle more than others. As a matter of fact, some of us may catch ourselves not worrying, and then we worry about the fact that we aren’t worrying; we wonder what we are missing that should be making us worry but isn’t.
In reality, worry doesn’t help us at all. I cannot think of a single time in my life where being anxious has actually helped me. Even if what I was worrying about came true, leaving me feeling justified for worrying, the act of being anxious didn’t accomplish anything to help it; it just burdened me down more and robbed me of rest, peace, and joy before what I was worrying about occurred, leaving me weaker as I faced the issue.
The word of God is right. Anxiety in our hearts weigh us down. That’s why we are commanded “do not be anxious about anything.” (Philippians 4:6, ESV) It is a command, not a suggestion.
Why is worrying so wrong? Francis Chan points out in his book Crazy Love that worrying actually implies that we don’t believe God is sovereign. We don’t believe He is in control. So we think we have to worry and help Him, because He cannot handle it Himself. When I first read that, it shocked me. I never meant to say that I didn’t trust God or that I didn’t think He was sovereign and looking out for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that is what I was doing.
I wish I could say that I have this under control in my life, but I don’t. By God’s grace, however, I do feel that I have been doing better. His Spirit convicts me when I am worrying and I have been doing better about repenting and handing it all to Him. But I am still growing in this area.
But rather than focusing on the issue of anxiety alone, I want to look at the latter part of the proverb above, which I think is very interesting. While anxiety weighs a person down, “a good word makes him glad.” I think the most immediate application means that when we hear good news regarding what we have been worrying about, or when we are given assurance about something rather than hearing things that make us worry, we are glad.
Perhaps someone has been worrying about news from the doctor. The anxiety weighs that person down. But then the phone rings and the nurse from the doctor’s office informs the person that all the test results have come back normal. The anxiety lifts, and the person’s heart is made glad.
While the above application is true (and again, probably the most immediate understanding), I believe there is another application. A more certain good word. A promise we can cling to no matter what is happening in our lives. I believe this promise will stand firm even if what we have been worrying about occurs.
It is found in Romans 8:28-29. The verses read, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (ESV) If we are followers of Christ, we have the best word: No matter what happens in life, we know that ultimately all things work together for good.
Now, let’s not misapply this. That doesn’t mean that all things are good. That doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen to us. But it means that eventually, whether in this life or in eternity, all things will work together for good. And that ultimate good is conformity to Christlikeness. God’s ultimate goal for us is to be like Jesus. And that should be our ultimate goal, too.
With this in mind, we should certainly be known as people who don’t worry. We have the promise of God’s peace in our lives if we pray rather than worry in Philippians 4. We know that God is looking out for us and providing for us in Matthew 6. And Romans 8 tells us that all things ultimately work for the good of being made like Jesus. Romans 8 goes on to tell us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
What a “good word.” What a great word! We should be glad and joyful as a result of this word. We should maintain an attitude of joy as a result of knowing that no matter what happens, we are in His care and He is planning things out for our good.
If you are worrying today, take this verse to heart. Stop being weighed down by anxiety and listen to the word of God, which has the power to make you glad.