Psychologists will tell you that worry is intended to protect us from fear. However, God did not intend for us to dwell on it or to let it consume us. When it stays at the forefront of my thoughts, it causes me to run scenarios over and over in my mind of things that will probably never happen. It keeps me up at night, drains my energy and robs me of peace. In a way, worry can be addictive. It can feel like if we’re not worrying about something, we don’t care enough. Thinking that way can cause us to get caught in a loop that feel impossible to break, but we must break it. We must learn to let it go and displace it with proper thoughts.
I love the way the Message unifies this passage of Scripture on worry. Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Worry often is a sign of a lack of trust in Christ to work things out. Worry takes control of the situation and puts it in our hands. When we pray instead, we give it back to God where it belongs. Then we need to replace it in our mind with productive thoughts so we can get back to living the way God called us to. Worry isn’t just a harmless feeling. It has the power to disrupt how we’re supposed to live and trust in God. If you’re overwhelmed with worry today, begin to pray so you can hand those things and situations over to God. Verbalize that you’re giving them to Him and are trusting Him with the things you can’t control. Any time worry tries to make itself at home in your mind, remind it that you aren’t in control, but God is. Don’t let it take roots again. Fill your mind with praise, God’s promises and the things listed in Philippians 4:8.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
My eight year old son tries to be fiercely independent. He wants to do things himself without my help. I can see him sometimes working on something he can’t quite figure out. I watch his frustration begin to rise, and I say, “Bring it here. Let me try.” Of course he keeps trying getting more upset. I make my offer again. Nope, he wants to keep trying. That’s usually when frustration starts turning into anger. He then has the choice to make – he can walk away from it or he can bring it to me. Once he puts it in my hands, I’m able to do with it what he cannot. Many times I’ll set it up so that he can participate in finishing it. When that happens, both of us smile and are happy.
In Matthew 14, King Herod has John the Baptist beheaded at the request of his step daughter. Jesus was sad over the loss of his cousin and went into a remote area to mourn. While he was there, someone spotted him and started telling people where He was. Soon thousands of people made their way to Him for healing. As it was getting dark, the disciples asked Him to send the crowds away so they could get dinner in nearby villages. In verse 16, Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary – you feed them” (NLT). I’m sure the disciples panicked and got frustrated trying to figure out how they could do it. They found five loaves and two fish and told Jesus that was all they had and they couldn’t do it. That’s when Jesus said, “Bring them here.”
The difference in both of these stories is whose hands things were in. How long do we try to do things while Jesus is telling us, “Bring them here”? You can keep trying to do the impossible on your own or you can trust Jesus with it. You can get frustrated trying over and over or you can put it in His hands. The feeding of the 5,000 was a miracle because the disciples were able to say, “We can’t do it,” and then handed over what they had to Jesus. One of the most difficult things about faith is letting go. We are fiercely independent people who want to do things ourselves. At the end of the day we have to choose whether we allow that frustration to turn to anger or put action to our faith and trust God with it. He is able to do above and beyond what we are able to. If we will trust Him, He will often allow us to participate in the miracle.
Have you ever met a person that you respected or admired, then got to have a real conversation with them? Then, at the end of the conversation, they gave you their number and said, “If you ever need anything, reach out to me.” I’ve had that happen a few times. I still have their cards, but I can tell you I’ve never called them. I’m too afraid that I’ll be seen as someone who abused the privilege of having access to them. I don’t want them to think I’m bothering them with a stupid request. So I hang onto my key to access them without ever accessing them.
The crazy thing is that many of us have that same attitude when it comes to accessing God. We think He’s got bigger problems to solve than ours. We reason that He doesn’t want to be bothered with our needs. We then try to justify, “He probably wouldn’t answer anyway.” So we hang onto our access to God, but we rarely access Him. I’m here to tell you that Jesus didn’t rip the veil between man and God for us to sit back. He invited us to come boldly into the Throne Room.
1 Corinthians 4:8 says, “You already have more access to God than you can handle” (MSG). Think about that. You and I have more access to God than we can handle. Access that He expects us to use. Whatever failures you point to, God can forgive. Whatever wisdom you need, God can give. Whatever problems you’re facing, God can resolve, but you have to access Him. You can’t just sit back and do nothing. Use your “All Access” badge, get into the Throne Room of Heaven and let God know your request.
God is able to handle the toughest problems of this world and your greatest need at the same time. You don’t need to feel ashamed or timid in approaching Him. His ways are not our ways and His wisdom is not our wisdom so He may answer in an unexpected way. Present your needs to Him without telling Him how to solve them. God is deeply concerned about the things you’re concerned about, and He has the power to resolve them. Don’t believe the lie that you need to leave Him alone. You have the access, now use it.
Life is unpredictable. It’s full of uncertainties, crossroads, and unknowns. When we are facing these things in life, our minds get consumed looking for answers and wondering what tomorrow holds. It can suck the energy right out of you if you let it. I think that’s why Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries” (NLT). He knew that with all of life’s uncertainties, we could easily get wrapped up in all the what if’s of life.
The truth is that even though you and I don’t know what tomorrow holds, God does. And He’s not worried. What is unknown to us is history to Him. He knows how it all plays out and He is in control. No matter what each day brings, we can trust that He has a plan for our lives and a path for us to walk down. Psalm 37:23 says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Not only does He direct our lives, He knows all the details that are unknown to us.
Trusting Him in those times is paramount to our peace of mind. Where worry consumes us, His peace frees us. We get peace in uncertainty when we trust that God is in control, that He has a plan for this time, and that He is directing our path. Stress and worry come from thinking we are in control, that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t have a plan. He gives you and I the ability to choose in this situation. Do we want to stress or do we want peace through trust?
I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 when it comes to trusting God in uncertainty. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (GNB). The word “trust”, in the original language, means to feel safe, be careless. In our most difficult times, we can feel safe and be carefree by trusting God. He will direct our path and show us the right way when the time is right.