Are you worried?
Worry can be terrifying. We worry about our children, our health, our finances, our marriage, and on and on. Worry asks the question, “What is going to happen?”
One night I was worrying. What if this happens? What am I going to do? What are we going to do? Worry is like a frightening play being acted out in your mind. The cast of characters in the play are terrifying! Each one comes upon the stage promising doom, failure, and humiliation. To spend much time worrying can be exhausting and so discouraging.
Maybe you are worried about:
The unfinished. “Oh my goodness, how will I ever get all of this done?” You haven’t finished the project or the paper for your 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.
The unresolved. “What am I going to do? You have some dilemmas for which you have no answer. Perhaps you have made a mistake — maybe a big mistake. Or, you are dealing with the ramifications of someone else’s mistake. You 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.
The unpleasant. “Oh my goodness! 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.
One night, I laid in bed worrying about a particular situation, wondering what was going to happen. I finally got out of bed. I began to think about a way to deal with this as a person who follows Jesus. I thought about Paul’s words in Philippians 4. 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)
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. 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.