If I had to pick one bane that I have struggled with throughout my life – one toxic, irritating, distressing, plaguing companion – it would be worry. I may try to dress it up and make it not look so ugly, but in reality my worry is actually glaring sinful pride that opposes God (I Peter 5:5b-7). I think I know what is best. I want to be in control.
Who is in Control?
This Christmas all of our family – children, spouses and grandchildren – were able to gather together in one place after 2 1/2 years. This is a rare thing indeed as many of us live on different continents.
I was given a very precious, thoughtful gift from my children. They recorded their voices reading some of my very favorite Scriptures. A gift that I will relish for a very long time. Listening through it, Matthew 6:27 caught my ear as I heard my son’s voice reading.
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27
It is almost like we believe that if we are anxious about something, we can change it somehow.
Anxiety: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome”
Battle For The Throne
I find that I want to be in control; I want my superior understanding of what is best, my keen sense of order, and my better set of values, to be on the throne. It is difficult to trust that God has everything completely in control and is sovereign. And even if He is in control, He at times does things in a messy and hurtful way; there seems to be no order, purpose, or reason for an illness, an accident, or a financial reversal. Thus, I indict my God and conclude that my way is better.
But God is worthy of my trust. He is in control whether I acknowledge it or not, and His ways are always good, perfect, and right, though they are much higher than my ways – so high that I cannot see them or evaluate whether they are up to my standards (Isaiah 55:8-9).
What benefits, however, I would enjoy if I would embrace God’s perfect and good Providence and see my ever-changing circumstances through this lens instead of relentlessly gasping and grasping at evasive control.
Th(i)nkful and Anxiety
Our Creator knows that humans have a strong propensity towards worry. Therefore, He has given us advice and commands on how to respond. In the Matthew 6 passage Jesus tells us to seek the things which are above and other things will come right. Another exhortation to combat anxiety comes from Paul in Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here we are given the admonition of rejoicing in the Lord, remembering that He is near, thereby setting the foundation of being able to pour out our requests to God with prayer and supplication (supplication = asking God to supply), with thanksgiving. We must practice gratitude in our heartaches and challenges.
If you give thanks with your supplication, the Lord promises that a supernatural peace will guard your emotions and mind. That is pretty cool!
Carefree vs. Careless
You may say that to be carefree, worry-free, seems to smack of not caring or having proper concern. Carefree is different from careless. We truly care. We care a lot, too much, and need to direct our care to the One Who cares for us and wants to carry our cares (Matthew 11:28-30). He knows that we struggle to control and He wants us to leave the control to Him and trust in His way.
Recently I have had the privilege of caring for three little ones while their mommy is going through some physical challenges. In reading to them I came across this book called Places You Haven’t See Yet: A Story About Learning to Trust God, SUCH good reading about what to do when you have anxiety. Pray!! We pour out our hearts to the Lord with thanksgiving.
The practice of thinking thanks in every situation is an antidote to worry. One repulses the other. One will win! They cannot coexist.
P.S. I included a link to the children’s book in case anyone wanted to get it. 🙂