Worry and Concern – What’s the Difference?
Do you find yourself in frequent worry mode? Has your worry increased over the last couple of months? Our world has turned upside down with the world health crisis and for many, worry and anxiety have increased. When life spirals out of control often the first response is to begin to speculate on what might go wrong. This is the “what if” syndrome that can quickly gain a firm grip on our thoughts. Many aspects of life are simply outside of our control but how we handle them makes a vast difference in not only our personal life but those lives that are around us as well. We must learn to cope with life, not in worry mode but by approaching life’ s problems with concern. So, what’s the difference?
H. Stephens said there is a great difference between worry and concern. He felt that a worried person sees a problem, but a concerned person solves it. Perhaps there is a bit of truth in his thinking. Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D. says that worry is the incessant and ruminative speculation of what might go wrong in the anticipation of chaos. Anytime that we stew over a potential or impactive issue in our life we are certainly “chewing” it to death with worry. We might call that “chewing and stewing.” It certainly solves nothing which is a considerable waste of time. Luciani feels however that concern is a more calculated consideration and an assessment of the potential danger of an issue. Therefore, worry is more speculation and anticipation whereas concern is more fact-based and geared toward problem-solving.
The Worry Box
How do you approach the things in your life that are unexpected, out of your control, and just heading in a different direction than you planned? J. Arthur Rank, an early film industry pioneer, from Great Britain, found that often if you wait long enough problems will take care of themselves. He found that he couldn’t quite put his worries out of his mind completely no matter how hard he tried, for they always slipped back in when he least expected it. So, he made a pact with God to limit his worrying to only Wednesdays.
Mr. Rank was very dedicated to his new system and even made himself a little Wednesday Worry Box, that he placed on his desk. Whenever a worry cropped up, he wrote it out and dropped it into his Wednesday Worry Box. However, he made a unique discovery. Every Wednesday, when the box was opened only one-third of the written items were still worth worrying about. The rest had resolved themselves.
When we have troubled hearts that cause us to worry, it is important to approach God to help us see a new perspective. Asking Him for patience is the beginning key. We don’t need to jump ahead to a plan of “what ifs” that cause us to “chew and stew.” The key to this is to ask God for more faith. Faith in God is the best remedy for all our problems. Jesus stated this clearly.
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.John 14:1 (NLT)
Worry Needs a New Perspective
When we approach life through faith, we see things from the eternal perspective. Christ’s words show us the way to eternal life for He is the way to the Father. Jesus prepared the way for us to have eternal life and the only issue that may stand in our way is our willingness to believe. Sounds, simple, we believe and focus on eternal life, and then we are free not to worry, right? Well, in theory, yes, but it’s not quite so easy. So, what can we do to avoid the “chewing and stewing?”
Turning to God is one of the first things to do when facing a life upset. When we allow the world and its problems to take over and blind us, we move into the fear of the unknown. It is perfectly acceptable to be concerned about an issue and search for ways to solve it with God. But when our genuine concern crosses the line to worry, things go awry. It’s in this place that fear replaces our concern as love no longer serves as the motivator. When fear takes over, we are no longer concerned about the well-being of others but a desire for control and safety.
Worry VS Concern
It is important that when problems crop up in life that we stand firmly with God holding onto Christ. This means that no matter the opposition we may meet for our belief, even if it is our fear, that we won’t turn away. God doesn’t expect us to handle life alone which is why He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us. Dr. Winfred Needly, Professor at Moody Bible Institute of Chicago said, that worry is a product of concern that is separated from the grace, power, love, and wisdom of God. It is important to recognize when concern moves into worry so we can stop it head-on.
Author, Caleb Suko, helps us see where the line crosses so we can avoid and move away from worry. His book, What If: How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You, identifies 8 characteristics of each.
- Concern focuses on others while worry is self-centered.
- Motivation to serve comes with concern but it is avoided with worry as we put up barriers.
- Concern promotes us to take constructive action while worry often paralyzes us.
- Others mostly welcome our concern while they do not want or need our worry.
- Love always drives concern while fear drives worry.
- The goal of concern is to help but worry has no goal!
- Concern strengthens relationships while worry weakens them.
- Faith soothes concern while worry overwhelms faith with doubt.
Always Sing After the Storm
When we choose to hold tight to our concern or move our worry back into the lane of concern, we honor God with our faith. Believers know that we can look forward to eternal life because Christ promises it to all who believe in Him. We may hold grave problems in life on earth and face tremendous hardships but through our faith, we can see beyond them with a new perspective. It is not easy to express joy in the presence of overwhelming life issues but those who hold Christ in their hearts have inward joy all the same.
A magazine reporter interviewed Rose Kennedy, at the age of 93. By this time in her life, four of her nine children had died violently. One of her daughters was mentally disabled all her life and would most likely not live much longer. Ms. Kennedy had outlived her husband long enough to see his rather unscrupulous life told and retold in the press. She was an elderly woman hit by tragedies over and over. The reporter asked her about this and how she dealt with it. She said slowly, I have always believed that God never gives a cross to bear larger than we can carry. And I have always believed that no matter, what, God wants us to be happy. He doesn’t want us to be sad. Birds always sing, after the storm, Why shouldn’t we?”
No More, Chewing, and Stewing!
Challenge yourself to hold tight to your faith. Know the difference between concern and worry and always point yourself closer to concern placing God as your first guide. Root yourself securely in the knowledge that Christ died for your sins and through your belief eternal life belongs to you. Find the motivation to speak up and share this Good News with others so they too may have life and a more peace-filled life on earth. Lastly, surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that no matter what the world may hold, you hold eternal life.
Worry doesn’t have to be a given part of life. Avoid the “chew and stew” method. Instead, turn to God when the problems of the world approach your life. Take concern over worry and learn to move into problem-solving actions with Christ as your guide.
Please continue to stay safe.
Love in Christ,
Take one day at a time. Today, after all, is the tomorrow, you worried about yesterday.Billy Graham, Hope for the Troubled Heart: Finding God in the Midst of Pain
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you find yourself frequently in worry mode? Have you been chewing and stewing over the world problems and how it affects you? Share your thoughts on concern vs worry and how Christ sees you through it all.