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NOT MY JOB

The names in this story have been changed out of respect for their privacy. Julie W told her family's story in a magazine article.

[My daughter], Allison, came home for the weekend. She opened the door, didn't speak, and dropped her duffel bag. Smudges of mascara circled her eyes. I whispered a "God-please-no" prayer.
"Come tell me about your classes." I patted the sofa. She muttered,
"Gotta take a shower."

As she clomped upstairs, I analyzed the recent changes in her: complaints of not having any money, rarely answers the phone, weight loss, pinpoint pupils, and a "who gives a rip" [facade]. I searched her purse and found a leopard-colored pipe and the unmistakable sweet odor of pot. My heart fluttered wildly like a bird stuck inside my chest.

She plodded down the stairs, hair in a towel, wearing the same wrinkled clothes. Be still and talk in a sweet voice, I told myself. You must convince her to stop. "We need to talk, honey."

"Not now. I'm tired."

"I found your pipe."

She stared at me with death-row eyes. "Chill, it's not that big of a deal."

The tightness in the den suffocated me. I needed air. "Want to walk?" I asked brightly. "Like we used to?"

"Whatever."

I knew I could talk some sense into her. "Honey, please. You've gotta stop." I grabbed her hand.

"Mom!" She jerked away.

"We have a strong family history. You don't want to..."

I never got to finish the sentence. Allison stormed out of the room and within minutes was headed back to college. I knew what I had to do--abandon everything in my life and start to worry/fix/control full-time.

I began spending most days by the phone. I evaluated Allison's reactions, gestures, and comments. Thoughts circled my mind like buzzards: What if she never stops? What if I never see her again? What if she overdoses? Or goes to jail?

I lured Allison into therapy by promising we'd go to an Italian restaurant before visits. Her first appointment day arrived. She played with her spaghetti, and I couldn't eat. "So, what do you plan to say to the counselor?" I asked.

"How should I know?"

When they called her name at the office, I hurried in to make sure the counselor understood. Allison refused to sign for me to have any information. I considered eavesdropping, but too many people were around. An hour later, she walked past me as I paid.

"What'd you talk about?"

"Just stuff."

Our therapy/lunch charade continued that way for a few weeks. Then Allison's sister informed me she was still using. She denied it, refused to see the counselor, dropped out of college, and stopped answering my calls.

I was convinced if I forgot about Allison, even for a second, or enjoyed anything, something bad might happen. Several months later, after another night of little sleep, I glanced in the mirror. I could have passed for the addict: dark circles under hopeless eyes.
I called my friend Linda. Her son, also an addict, had been sentenced to state prison. "You can't imagine all that's going on here," I said.

"Come over for coffee," she urged.

I wanted to stand guard at home but knew she'd listen and understand.

"Hey, girlfriend." Linda hugged me. I didn't touch my coffee as I blurted the saga. Linda didn't sweet-talk. "You need help."
"You haven't heard the whole story," I argued. "I'm fine--my daughter, she needs help."

"You're addicted to worry and control," Linda said. "I've been where you are." She stretched out on the sofa. "The only one you can control is yourself."

The possibility that she might be right terrified me. "It took me years to realize that I'm not in charge. God is," Linda admitted. "By worrying, you're telling God he can't handle things. Go to Al-Anon with me." I'd heard of Al-Anon but didn't see how it applied to me. But I agreed because I was in awe of Linda.

I didn't open my mouth during the meeting. Every word spoken sounded like my own thoughts:

"I worried myself sick about my alcoholic husband."
"My peace comes only when I let go and let God."
Then the speaker said, "To change, you'll have to leave behind some familiar lifelong habits." But how? This is who I am--what I do. "An alcoholic can't drink, and those of us in this room can't allow an ounce of worry. For us, it's every bit as dangerous and addictive. Worry robs our serenity."

I didn't think change was possible. Not for me. But I knew one thing for sure--I was destroying my life. That night at home I got real. "Help me, God. I can't do this without you." I began to ask God for help each morning. I whispered, "Not my job," as worry, fear, or control tried to needle back in.

Two years after that first Al-Anon meeting, Allison and I met for an impromptu lunch. She'd gone back to the same therapist. On her own.
"You can't imagine how easy it is to study when you're not high," she laughed.

"Nope, I guess not." I blinked back happy tears.

"Thanks, Mom."

"For what?"

"When you didn't fix my problems, it scared me. A few times I had to dig change out of the seat of my car for gas money. Some days," she paused, "I didn't have food." My throat felt warm with pride. She'd done it on her own. "I'm making A's. And look," she handed me her checkbook. "I have money again."

Recovery defies logic. It means doing the opposite of what feels natural. When I took care of myself and my addictions, Allison did the same.

Citation: Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian,© 2008 Christianity Today International Julie W., "Not My Job," Today's Christian (July/August 2008)

Everyone needs a hero. For the mother who told this story it was her friend, Linda. Then she turned to God as her ultimate hero. We all could do with someone to help us work through our troubles. We need a victorious warrior to fight our battles. No one knows that better than God himself.

From Mark Haines' Sermon "Our Mighty God"

 
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"In case youre worried about whats going to become of the younger generation, its going to grow up and start worrying about the younger generation."

 
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GIRLS GROWING UP TOO FAST

A study by Girlguiding reveals 3 leading potential "triggers" for serious mental health problems in girls: premature sexualization, commercialization and alcohol misuse. The report reveals a loss of childhood innocence and says girls today experience high levels of "stress, anxiety and unhappiness." Premature sexualization and pressure to grow up too quickly are 2 key influences in the anxiety felt by girls. The study, funded by the Girl Guides and the Mental Health Foundation, found 66% of the girls surveyed feel "anger and sadness" at least some of the time, and 50% find those feelings difficult to manage. 25% are "often worried," while 50% find their anxiety hard to handle. Many have friends or family members who have suffered mental health problems. 40% know someone who has self-harmed, 33% had a friend who suffered from an eating disorder and 40% know someone who has experienced panic attacks. 25% know someone who has taken illegal drugs, while 40% have experienced someone drinking too much alcohol. They see supportive families and friendship groups as the "most important factor" in dealing with these problems. Girls are especially under pressure to look like the celebrities they see in magazines and on TV. 66% admit they felt worse about themselves when they saw pictures of models in magazines and on TV. (LifeSite News 7/14/08)

 
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A Religion Professor named Dr. Christianson taught a required survey of Christianity course at small college. Every freshman was required to take the course regardless of his or her major. Although he tried hard to communicate the gospel, students viewed the class as nothing more than a waste of time.
One particular year Dr. Christianson had a student named Steve. Steve was the Center for the college football team and also a strong Christian who intended on going to Seminary. One day Dr. Christianson had an idea and he asked Steve to stay after class. "How many push ups can you do?" He asked. Steve said, "I do 200 every night." The professor asked Steve if he could do 300. "I have never done 300 before" Steve said, "but I think I can do it." "Good," the professor said, and he proceeded to tell his plan to Steve.
Friday came and Steve got to class early. Dr. Christianson came in with a large box of fluffy, cream filled doughnuts. The class was excited, it was Friday the last class of the day, and they could start their weekend early. Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the row and asked, "Cynthia would you like a donut?" "Yes," she said. Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down out of his desk and counted off ten push ups. Dr. Christianson laid the donut on Cynthiaís desk. Joe was next. He asked Joe the same question and Joe said "yes." Steve did 10 more pushups and the professor laid the doughnut on Joeís desk. And so it went all the way down the first row and half way down the second until it came to Scott. He was a basketball player and friendly to female companionship. Scott replied to the professorís question by saying, "I want the doughnut if I can do my own push ups." Dr. Christianson said, "No Steve has to do the pushups." Then Scott said, "Well I donít want one if I canít do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesnít want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didnít want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts, Just leave it on the desk if you donít want it." And he put the donut on Scottís desk.
Steve had begun to slow down a little and sweat had began to form on his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!" Then Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten more push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesnít want?" Steve did ten-Jenny got a doughnut.
By now a sense of uneasiness had filled the room. The students were all beginning to say "no." There were uneaten donuts on every desk. Steve was now putting forth a lot of extra effort to get the pushups done for each doughnut. A small pool of sweat was on the floor, his face was red, and you could see the sweat soaking through his shirt.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in class, to watch to make sure Steve did the full ten. Dr. Christianson started down the forth row. Students from other classes had came in and were sitting along the side of the room watching on. When the professor saw them he counted and saw that there were now 34 people in the room. He was worried about Steve, "Could he do that many push ups?" Jason, a recent transfer student, didnít know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Donít come in!" Steve picked up his head and said, "let him come in." Jason was asked and he said "yes." "Steve will you do ten push ups so Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great struggle. Jason, confused, was handed a donut and he sat down. Dr. Christianson then finished the fourth row and began on the visitors. Steves arms were shaking uncontrolably with each push up. By this time sweat was pouring off of his face and arms. The very last two students were cheerleaders. "Linda, do you want a donut?" Linda cried and said, "no thank you." Professor turned to Steve, "Steve would you do ten push ups so Linda can have a donut she doesnít want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. The last girl was Susan. "Susan would you like a donut?" Susan was full of tears and did n...

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"I'M NOT A CHRISTIAN, SO..."

You need to know what is going on in the head of a non-saved or pre-saved person.

* "I'm not a Christian, so ... I really don't understand this religious stuff. I did try and read bits of the Bible when I was at school, but found it hard to understand. I never went to church or Sunday School or anything.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...It really bugs me to see Christians claiming that they know it all.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...I doubt they have much fun anyway, because they are living by a load of rules.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, some do. Mandy in the Accounts Department goes to church, but she can't keep her hands off men. Ever."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I do try to live by my own rules too. Well, most of the time. I still feel bad about what happened with Sam though."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...There is one church in town that give out leaflets in the street. They are so badly produced though -- just lots of text and Bible verses. I never read them properly. There's an invitation to their church services at the end -- but I would never dare to go to a church by myself, even if I wanted to. I'd feel like a fish out of water."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Church services sometimes come on the TV too. I always switch channels, they seem so old-fashioned and preachy. One time though, I came across a Christian program that was looking at the Christian messages hidden in recent Hollywood film releases. Now, that WAS interesting, and it made sense to me. (I try to get to the movies every two or three weeks.) Another time, there was a story about Christians starting an AIDS hospice in our country. Those people really impressed me."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I actually know any Christians at all. Otherwise I could perhaps find out more, and ask some real questions. If they'd try and give straight answers, and not just preach at me."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, if their beliefs work for them, that's great. Of course, I do read my horoscope when I remember to. I always try to avoid things that it warns against. And Charlie gave me some healing crystals -- I keep them by my bed, and they really seem to make me feel calmer sometimes. Buddhism sounds fun, actually. There are evening classes at the local college. Carlos and Miriam have been going. They say it is really good -- there is no pressure to join anything, the classes are friendly and interactive, and already they feel that their lives are changing for the better."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I need God, or religion or stuff. Though it would be nice to know where I am going. To feel more grounded. Have a purpose. And I wish I could cope with stress better than I do. Or even find someone I could talk to about the things that worry me. My job is not safe anymore. I can't face all that job-loss stuff again -- it's happened twice before. Specially with my loans to repay. And I'm just hoping that dad's medical tests won't show anything bad. Specially now he has left mum and is living alone."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...And even deal with that thing which happened when I was a child -- what that man did to me in the toilets. I never told anyone, not even my mother. It still makes me feel guilty. I manage to blank it out most of the time. I'm sure it contributed to my last relationship breakup. Life is a bit lonely just now."

* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I always try to escape from the week's stress on Friday night. Me and a few mates. It seems to help, somehow. But there's always Monday again."

(Source: InternetEvangelismDay.com)

 
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TONY EVANS ON GETTING UN-STUCK

Tony Evans, a popular black preacher from down in Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said heíd never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that has never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.

One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck in between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someoneís attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to the aid. But nobody heard their noise or their cries.

Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didnít need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didnít need to speak loudly in the phone to receive their help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.

Evans said that - in this world, weíre going to get "stuck" in places we arenít comfortable with. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows thereís someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.

Hebrews 10:19ff tells us that we now can have "boldness" (KJV) to enter into very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus. We can think this way only because Jesus has opened the way for us to approach Godís throne and earnestly ask whatever we desire according to His Will.

 
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WHAT A 95-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WORRIES ABOUT

A ninety-five year old woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow church members.

"How are you feeling?" the visitor asked.

"Oh," said the lady, "I'm just worried sick!"

"What are you worried about, dear?" her friend asked. "You look rather well and healthy today. Are they taking good care of you here?"

"Oh, yes, they're taking very good care of me."

"Are you in any pain?" she asked.

"No, I'm not in any pain at all."

"Well then, what are you worried about?" her friend asked again.

The lady leaned back in her rocking chair, sighed a heavy sigh, then slowly explained her major worry. "Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to heaven. I'm afraid they're all wondering where I went."

The word worry in the Greek, means to be divided. The Greek word is formed by two root words "divided" and "mind." To worry means to be pulled in many different directions.

(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, Consider the Lilies!, 12/25/2010)

 
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THE EVOLUTION OF MOTHERS

Being a parent changes everything. But being a parent also changes with each baby. Here are some of the ways having a second and third child is different from having the first.

Your Clothes

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your doctor
confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth

1st baby: You practice your breathing
religiously.
2nd baby: You donít bother practicing because you remember that last
time, breathing didnít do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th
month.

The Layette

1st baby: You pre-wash your newbornís clothes, color-coordinate them,
and fold them neatly in the babyís little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes
are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, canít they?

Worries

1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper, a frown--you pick
up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your
firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Pacifier

1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the babyís bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

Diapering

1st baby: You change your babyís diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to
complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

Activities

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby:...

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FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART

I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:

"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!

"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.

"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.

"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!

"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.

"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"

Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).

(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)

 
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From the Australian Psychology Society
What is anger?
Anger is an emotion that can range from mild annoyance to intense rage. It is a feeling that is accompanied by biological changes in your body. When you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure rise and stress hormones are released. This can cause you to shake, become hot and sweaty and feel out of control.
When people have angry feelings, they often behave in angry ways too. Angry behaviors include yelling, throwing things, criticizing, ignoring, storming out and sometimes withdrawing and doing nothing.

Why do we get angry?
Anger is often associated with frustration - things donít always happen the way we want and people donít always behave the way we think they should. Anger is usually linked with other negative emotions or is a response to them. You may be feeling hurt, frightened, disappointed, worried, embarrassed or frustrated, but may express these sorts of feelings as anger. Anger can also result from misunderstandings or poor communication between people.
Men and women often, but not always, manage and express anger in different ways. With men, anger may be the primary emotion, as many men believe that anger is the more legitimate emotion to express in a situation. Often men find it harder to express the feelings underneath the anger, like hurt, sadness or grief. For women the reverse may often be true - the anger gets buried under tears.
(http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/12.5_12.asp)

Anger IS an indication of what is going on inside of us, but Paul warns:

ďIn your anger, do not sin.Ē We often may feel that our emotion gives us license to act out. Some of us may even feel like venting is a good thing. We go off in a fit of rage, leaving a trail of destruction behind . . . sure WE feel (momentarily) better, but do those around us?

This is an area I struggle with. I display my anger in both outbursts and in withdrawal and depression. I have sinned in my anger, too. Have you?

 
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