A Better Place Than Worry

coffee27.jpgI really don’t like that feeling.  That sense of being overwhelmed.

I woke up early today, much too early.  For a few moments, as I lay in bed, unfinished tasks and unsolved problems seemed to parade themselves in front of me.  These were followed by a few uncertainties, things about which I am unclear what to do.  What had been a restful sleep had suddenly turned into a few moments of anxiety.  It was almost as if an accusing voice was saying, "How can you sleep at a time like this?  Look at your life and work.  You have things to be concerned about!  You have reasons to be anxious!  Now wake up and worry!"

Do you relate to these feelings? 

Perhaps you know all too well these nagging reminders.

The unfinished.  "Oh my goodness, how will I ever get all of this done?"  You haven’t finished that project or that paper for that class at the university.  You haven’t finished preparing that message, that talk, or that sermon.  You are not ready for that meeting.  You have a special event coming soon at church.  Things are not where they need to be in terms of preparation.  You feel behind.

(You may be thinking at this point: "Unfinished?  I haven’t even started!") 

This morning I was thinking about several tasks that are unfinished and one in particular that I haven’t even begun.  I really was feeling overwhelmed by the unfinished.

The unanswered.  "How will all of this work out?  How will I solve these problems?"  You have some dilemmas for which you have no answer.  You know the situation is not right but you just aren’t sure what to do.   These problems can range from annoying situations that keep you, your church, or your company from being effective to heartbreaking situations that involve people you care about deeply.  This morning one of these situations flashed through my mind and within seconds everything felt heavy and serious.

The unpleasant.   "Yuk. Just the thought of doing that is depressing!"  You have an unpleasant conversation to initiate.  You are in conflict with someone and you are to meet with that person later in the day.  You have a task that you need to begin.  The task is something you really have no desire to do.  Maybe you are tired of having to do this one more time.  Many of us feel a sense of dread when we think about the unpleasant.  

Now perhaps you don’t relate to this at all.  Yet, I suspect there are a few of us reading these words who very much relate to this. 

Anyway, I finally got out of bed.  I began to think about a way to deal with this as a person who follows Jesus. I began to  think about Paul’s words in Philippians 4.  Then I sat down at our kitchen table and read these words from my Bible:

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (4:4-7)

Good news.

1.  The Lord really is very near.  He has chosen to be near me and has not gone anywhere.  He has not abandoned me to fend for myself.

2.  God wishes to receive my requests.  In fact, by prayer and petition, he desires that I present everything to him.

3.  God is greater than all that is unfinished, unanswered, or unpleasant in my life.  My anxiety is reduced when I depend upon him and trust him instead of feeling as if it is all up to me.

4.  God wishes to give me a peace that is actually beyond my comprehension and understanding.  In Christ Jesus, this peace actually guards my heart, blocking the anxiety that can easily captivate me.

5.  As a result, my joy is secure.  (How I need to be reminded of this!)  My joy is secured by the one who is at work in my life and deals with the matters that I present to him.  I can trust him with what is on my heart.  After all, he loves me and cares for me.  

Do you relate to this?  I suspect there are lots of moms/dads, business people, ministers, singles, college students, etc. who very much relate to some of this.  Perhaps today, you find that these promises from God really speak to you.  Thank God.

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15 thoughts on “A Better Place Than Worry

  1. Some mornings I read your post and ca only say "Thank you God for Jim." Today was one of those. We’ve all heard sermons that we knew were just for us. Perhaps the best part of it is this: the realization that the message in fact touched many, many people. And that means you are not alone in your needs and feelings. Shalom.

  2. Yes, this speaks to me today.  Thanks.  It’s nice to hear of others finding answers in Christ to similar struggles I face.  This helps.

  3. Jim
    Thanks for reminding us of this. I have been going through a time of worry and anxiety over my kids.  I look at my daughter who is finishing 6th grade and I fear I haven’t done what it takes to establish her as a lover of Jesus.  I get concerned about the influences in her life, her friends, her hidden feelings…YOU NAME IT!
    I have no basis for this anxiety – she is a great kid.  I just do the parental worrying.  It was about a month ago when I literally was feeling oppressed by the fear that the Lord just spoke into my heart.  I made a decision that day to pray over my kids from the moment I drop them at school in the morning until I pull back into the garage.
    This is what I pray, everyday. I pray for God to draw them to Himself. For Him to place a calling in their lives like a magnet, unlike anything I can do. I pray for them to embrace and love what God loves and to have not taste for sin.  I pray for their future spouses and the relationships inbetween.
    My anxiety drops everyday as I begin this ritual. 

  4. Thank you so much for this.  Your posts so often speak to me and meet me right where I’m at!
    Sometimes I feel as if it would be fine if there were only ONE situation to deal with, ONE problem to face–like a 30 minute television episode…but of course real life isn’t like that.  On mornings like that I sometimes find myself reciting "this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad…"  If only to try to convince myself.

  5. I have this great friend; she’s a psychologist. And we were talking about this kind of thing one day, about how people get overwhelmed. She was saying that the simple act of writing a list takes the overwhelming feelings out of our right brain (emotions) and into our left brain (problem solving). We feel better without even understanding why.Taking this to heart, I often make simple lists now of the things which seem to pile up and make me feel overwhelmed. Better yet, turning the list into a journal entry and copying scripture like the wonderful passage you quote here… it helps to ease things. 

  6. Thanks, Jim.  A dear friend sent your message about "worry" to me, knowing I have had a lot on my brain lately.  Your reminder and openness was a blessing for my heart.  Thanks.

  7. Adam–I’m glad that was encouraging.Dave W.– I am happy that in some way this was  a blessing to you today.Chris–Thanks very much.  I glad this spoke to what you needed. 

  8. Arlene,I think many, many of us can relate to worry over kids.  (I have certainly done a lot of it at various times in their lives.)I really like your prayer:This is what I pray, everyday. I pray for God to draw them to Himself.
    For Him to place a calling in their lives like a magnet, unlike
    anything I can do. I pray for them to embrace and love what God loves
    and to have not taste for sin.  I pray for their future spouses and the
    relationships inbetween.
    Your children are blessed to have a mother who will pray like this over her children.

  9. The Walk– I am glad this post spoke to you.  I relate to what you said regarding your desire to sometimes have these concerns one at a time.  As you said, that is not the way life is.  In my own life, it seems that there are usually several of these going on with varying degrees of intensity.  I suppose this is just a reminder that we can’t manage our own lives and desperately need God.Liam—Thanks very much.L.L.– I like this explanation by your friend.  It makes sense.  Thanks very much.

  10. When our kids were growing up I had to constantly pray for God to take my worries about them and keep them safe and when they grew up I thought my worries would be fewer.  Then we had grandkids.  Now very often I go to bed with worries running through my head about each one of our seven grandkids (and still, our kids and their spouses).  As usual the worries are magnified at night when I am tired.  I appreciate knowing others get weak and filled with worry too.  God is working on me in this area.  Thanks for the good words. 

  11. I needed these re-assuring thoughts and passages, Jim, especially during this time.   Phil and I are experiencing some anxieties with our son Clay, and reading this blog helped. Keep up the good workJackie