Consider your response to these unexpected life events:
*Your spouse loses their job and there’s a baby on the way.
*Your child has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, requiring expensive medication, and vigilant awareness of symptoms.
*The ministry you have worked for years trying to build has yet to get off its feet.
*You need to move because of a job change but you can’t sell your home.
If you are at all like me, if any of these circumstances entered your lives, you would feel worried. Your mind would be consumed with "What if's?" You would lie awake at night thinking of all the things that you need to do and all that could possibly go wrong. Your stomach would twist itself in knots and your head would throb. You would feel helpless and overwhelmed.
Such worry seems to come naturally to us. It's something we do without even trying. Almost like breathing. For many of us, it's a way of life and we can't imagine not going through the day without worrying about something.
Worry is a kind of "acceptable" sin. An acceptable sin is something we consider normal because everyone does it. Kind of like gossip or binging on a pint of ice cream at the end of a stressful day. In many ways, worry is made "acceptable" because it is something we do with others. Sometimes, we seem to try to out-worry our friends, comparing with each another the stresses of our day, how much responsibility we have at work, and how packed our calendars are.
As believers, we know that Jesus said "Do not worry" (Matthew 6:25-34). But, how? How do we face job loss, illness, uncertainty, and the unknown future without worrying?
Forgetting and Remembering
I find that the older I get, the more forgetful I am. I walk into a room, stop, and mumble to myself, "Why did I come in here?" And the more busy I am, the more forgetful I become. I've forgotten doctor appointments, relative's birthdays, and items off my grocery list. To help prompt my memory, I've found myself jotting down notes and placing them in prominent places. I've even assigned my boys the task of reminding me of places we need to go so I don't forget to take them.
When it comes to worry, it's essentially an issue of forgetfulness. We get wrapped up in what's going on around us and forget who rules and reigns over all the cares of our life. We forget that we are not our own but belong to Another. We forget God's steadfast grace for us.
When we are worried about the cares of this life, we need to prompt our memories. We need to remind ourselves of what is true. We need to turn our heart toward our Sovereign God, remembering who he is and what he has done.
4 Things to Tell Your Worries:
1. God is not surprised: God is sovereign over all things. He knew before time began that you would be his child, saved by the blood of his Son. He who flung the stars in the skies and uses the clouds as a footstool for his feet knows the number of hairs that are on your head. He knows the number of your days. Before you speak a word, he already knows it (Psalm 139:4). And as Matthew 6 tells us, God knows all our needs. So this situation that keeps you up at night is not a surprise to your Father in Heaven. He is not shocked by it. He is not confused or biting his nails, wondering what to do. Even this situation is under his sovereign control. He knows exactly how he will use it for his glory and your good. "God is not surprised by this" is one of the frequent refrains I tell myself during worrisome circumstances.
2. God is good and faithful: One of the defining characteristics of God is his goodness and faithfulness. "For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:5). God is holy and righteous. He can only do that which is good.
He is also faithful; he keeps his word. God's very words make things happen. "For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed" (Ezekiel 12:25). "The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand" (Isaiah 14:24). We have seen his faithfulness in keeping his covenant promises, culminating in the sacrifice and death of his Son on our behalf. As Paul encourages us in Romans, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (8:32). In the midst of our worries, we need to remind ourselves that God is good and faithful.
3. God provides for his children: Scripture tells us that we are adopted children of the Father. "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will" (Ephesians 1:4-5). When we worry and fret over things, we have forgotten who our Father is. We have forgotten who we are as his children. We are living as though we are still orphans without a home and without a Father who cares for us.
When we forget this truth, we are living like the Israelite's whom God called to himself. He delivered and rescued them from slavery. But over and over they forgot. When they were hungry they immediately thought God would let them die in the desert. When Moses was gone too long, they worshiped idols. When their enemies seemed too strong, they assumed they would be defeated.
We are no different. We too forget that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider. We forget how he provided our salvation. We forget that he provides everything we need to complete whatever task he has called us to. When we are consumed with worry, we need to remember that God is our provider.
4. God's grace is sufficient: Everything in our lives comes to us by God's grace. Our life, our breath, our salvation, our growth, our endurance in faith--everything. And his grace is sufficient. It is a well that never runs dry. We can depend and rely upon his grace for he has promised to never leave or forsake us. He has promised to complete the work he began in us. We can trust and believe that he will give us the grace we need to make it through whatever circumstances that cause us to worry.
In this fallen and broken world, we will have plenty of opportunity and reason to worry. And because we are prone to forgetfulness, we will find ourselves tempted to worry. But God, through his Spirit, will give us grace upon grace. He will help us to remember what he has done.