“It looks like you might not get paid this week.”
“I got a letter for you in the mail, it looks like it’s from a lawyer.”
“Can you take a child who is being displaced from their family this week.”
“It looks like cancer. We need to run more tests.”
“Insurance won’t cover this.”
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to let you go.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Chances are likely you’ve received news similar to the lines above. It’s because the list isn’t just a mental musing of mine, it’s a list of bad news I’ve received in the past month or others have shared with me.
This past month my default step one has been: WORRY.
The path of dealing with stressors in my life is simple and oft repeated:
concern… can lead to mind numbing worry… which can lead to crippling anxiety… which can lead to full scale panic.
This past month I let worry take out a lease in my headspace. I was plagued with “what ifs” and “If I only hads…” The worry scaled up, as it often can, and I began eating when I wasn’t hungry, sleeping more than I needed, and withdrawing from relationships.
I know verses in the Bible about worry and anxiety, but worry kept creeping in like an icy unwelcome draft. So I meditated on the following passages:
Matthew 6:25-30 [NLT] “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
1 Peter 5:7 [ESV] Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Proverbs 12:25 [ESV] Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
As my mind and heart poured over these verses God spoke with clarity and began the process of evicting my worry and anxiety.
Put Aside Worry With God’s Promises
God doesn’t want me to worry about his provision. Worry is unreasonable and irrational for children of God. Worrying is a waste of time because worrying accomplishes nothing. Zero things are solved by worrying. Zero diseases are cured by worrying. Zero checks have been written for the task of worrying. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
The phrase, “God’s God this,” comes to mind. What am I worrying about? Provision? Has God not promised to provide my needs for clothing and food? Purpose? Has God not given me a divine purpose of making disciples and continuing to spread the news about the Kingdom of God? Security? Will God not protect me and my family in the exact way that best leads us into greater faith? Deliverance from my adversaries? God stands for his people and who can stand against him?! The list goes on, and on, and on.
Replace Worry With Worship
If worry and anxiety weight a person’s heart down, what lifts a heart up? Worship! Everyday I sing to God. In the car, in the house, in my headphones. Worship is a tremendous tool to dull the blade of worry in your life. It’s heart to focus on the bad and difficult when you’re singing or listening to the wonders that God has done in and for his people. Sing!
Put Worry Down And Pick Up Prayer
Then, listen. We speak to God in prayer and he speaks to us through his Word and through the Holy Spirit. No one talks on the phone and hangs up before letting the other person speak (except bots and they’re universally disdained). We speak, then we listen, then we speak again, then we listen again. Let your prayer operate in this way. I rarely pray without a Bible on hand and open to the Psalms, Gospels, or Epistles (letters in the New Testament). Speak. Listen. Repeat. Listening will involve reading the Word and spending time in silence. You may not hear right away, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t listening. Based on the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 it means that God wants us to keep banging on the doors of heaven.
In this way I have often discerned the next step.
In an atmosphere filled with worship, followed by pleading prayers…
Press Into Godly Action
Godly action is the process of doing what God says. This can be the scariest step because it involves taking God’s answers from the head (what you know) through the heart (what you believe) and out to your hands (what you do). Living for God and obeying him will likely lead you down paths of action that are terrifying. Like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade when he stood at a precipice and was told to take a step on what seemed like thin air. *Spoiler Alert* Eventually Indie remembers that the instructions had carried him through great trials already so he closes his eyes and steps out into nothingness only to find solid ground that he couldn’t see before. It wasn’t blind faith that gave him the confidence. It was informed and tried faith. God works this way. He will teach us step by step and grow our faith in him as we live (do something) faithfully. Then, on occasion, we will have what seems like an impossible step to take. In those moments, remember where God has taken you in the past and take the leap of faith.
This process has helped me greatly over the past month. I pray you are encouraged as well.