What’s the difference between worry and fear?
Nothing really, if we’re honest.
There may be a difference in degree, but they amount to the same thing in essence.
Worry and fear are responses to situations where we don’t trust God, instead.
I think most would define worry as a less intense experience of fear, fear being more overwhelming, but they really are the same thing – and that’s why the Bible tells us to acknowledge and account for both of them.
In Philippians 4 v 6-7 for example we are told, “Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Here, we see that the opposite of worry is peace. And if that peace comes from God, we can be sure that the opposite comes from elsewhere. Some say worry is a good thing as you need to plan ahead and think things through, and I’d agree that those things are beneficial, but you can do them without worrying.
If we’re told not to worry in God’s word, then it can’t be any good for us.
So what IS worry if it’s not thinking through an issue?
Well, worry is going one step further… worry is when our thinking about something robs us of our peace.
You can plan, you can analyse, you can even dissect an issue at length, but when it takes your peace away from you that’s when God steps in and says ‘Hey, don’t do this. Come back to me with your thoughts and enter into peace again!’
And like I said previously, it’s the same with fear.
The Bible uses the phrase ‘Do not fear’ over 80 times. 80 times!
I think He’s trying to tell us something there.
So, when your thinking robs your peace, whether we call it worry or fear, God tells you to change your thinking and put Him as your focus once again.
He tells us, ‘…do not fear.’
In other words, turn your attention to God and trust in Him, instead.
Change your thinking and the peace will follow.
The enemy knows that when we fear we take our eyes off Jesus and what He can do, look instead at what’s captured our attention and what that thing tells us we can’t do.
Fear decreases hope which we need to keep striving ahead. It eliminates joy which God wants us to experience as we go through life to keep us strong. It replaces peace, which is the state of being God wants us to have whatever we face so we can face it head on and keep going until it’s over.
Don’t let the enemy win.
When worry or fear or whatever we want to call it threatens to take away our peace, do what the Bible says and “do not worry”. “Do not fear.”
It’s often easier said than done, but the more we give our concerns to God and replace them with a focus on Him, the easier it will be to keep our eyes on Jesus and to experience His amazing peace.
Don’t be fooled by the idea that continually going over and over an issue, when you really want to let it go, will eventually bring you to a state of peace…
Too many of us try and worry ourselves out of worry and, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work.
It never does.
Once you’ve thought your issue through, peacefully, give it to God and bring the cycle of fear and worry on that particular point to an end. Whatever it may be.
Do that with whatever else comes across your path and soon it’ll become quite natural to turn to God. To take it all to Him and then deal with issues quickly in peace, rather than at length in anxiety.
To finish this thought, here are the words from a hymn I remember singing many times when I was younger.
As is often the case with great lyrics, they hang around for a long time in the mind and, indeed, in Christian culture: Hillsong released a version of the hymn in 2008, many years after it was written.
The hymn describes exactly what happens when we choose to give our worries and fears less attention and look to God instead for peace:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full, in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Do not worry and do not fear… powerful instructions, if only we choose to follow them.