Toxic Worry or Healthy Concern

I recently relocated to Georgia and my neighbor invited me to participate in a women’s Bible study group. Undoubtedly, it has blessed me tremendously so I wanted to share some things I learned (still trying to perfect in my life).

At Bible study, we use the book and study guide by Joanna Weaver titled “Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World”. I recommend it to women trying to learn how to juggle the busyness of life with their relationship with God, our foremost relationship.

Joanna’s book is based on the story in Luke 10:38-42 in which Jesus visited the home of sisters- Martha and Mary. I have heard many sermons on the story but Joanna’s book gives fresh insight. Jesus was going on His way with His disciples and Martha welcomed Him into her house. Mary, rather than assisting Martha in preparations to host Jesus, decided to sit and listen to Jesus’ teaching. Martha was preoccupied with preparation and came to Jesus to complain about how her sister was not helping her, asking Him if He cared and telling Him to tell Mary to play her role. Jesus responded in Verse 42 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. There is need of only one or but a few things.

Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her”. Joanna highlights in her book how Jesus did not rebuke Martha for what she was trying to do, which is to serve the Lord and be a good “host”, but that Jesus rebuked her attitude and wanted her to understand that a relationship with Him is far more beneficial (and what He also desires from us) than any service we can render. Often times, we think that taking on the weight of the world and serving God (either at the church, in our homes) will help us gain His approval.
However, not so. God wants us to nurture our relationship with Him first and then serve. Joanna went on to discuss how Jesus “diagnosed” Martha’s main problem. Jesus knew exactly what the problem was with Martha; she was worried! He knew she was worried about many things [vs. 42]…. perhaps worried about being too busy, about how she would please Jesus and feed Him and His disciples.

Perhaps more pertinent to our daily lives, the “many things” are sickness, broken relationships, childlessness, miscarriage, feelings of betrayal or the things we have to do as women that vie for our time…work, cook, clean, take care of the family and so on. Jesus knew that if Martha was less worried by spending more time first fellowshipping with Him like Mary did, everything else would have been easier for Martha to handle. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” When we seek God first like Mary did, our anxiety and worries fade away. Joanna states in her book:

” In one short sentence, Jesus diagnosed the problem that has plagued humankind since the beginning of time (garden of Eden)……. and the Fall of mankind.

It is the curse of anxiety. The ongoing burden of worry and fear.”

The Bible commands us to NOT worry. It is a waste of time and can affect us spiritually, emotionally and physically. Joanna suggests some tips to help us stop worrying because as she says “Jesus wasn’t asking us to live in denial, a sugar-coated fairy tale…because our world is filled with struggles and real pain”.

There is a place for “HEALTHY CONCERN”, which is very different from “toxic worry”. Concern draws us to God. Worry pulls us from Him”. A preacher once said, “Worrying is fear-based negative meditation. Faith is meditation on the word of God”. Below are some practical differences between concern and worry that Joanna noted in her book.

So anytime I find myself worrying, I try to switch my thoughts to the “concern” gear and then trust God that He will do what is best for me.

• Involves legitimate threat
• Is specific (one thing)
• Addresses the problem
• Solves problems
• Looks to God for answer

• Is often unfounded
• Is generalized (spreads to many things)
• Obsesses about the problem
• Creates more problems
• Looks to self or other people for answers

May God help us all.
Written by Bunmi Adeniji for ‘Movingforward with Yinka

Reference: Joanna Weaver’s – “Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World”.