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 every situation, 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.
- Philippians 4:4-7
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:31-34
“I have stopped asking why and have replaced it with worship. Worrying can’t change the situation, but worship and prayer can. Worry leads to anxiousness and makes your situation bigger than it actually is. But when we worship, we remember that God is bigger than the problems we face. No matter how insurmountable our challenges feel, God is way bigger and more powerful and will fight on our behalf. The more we worry, the less we trust God. The more we trust God, the less we worry.
“Philippians 4:6—7 says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.’ This is an incredible statement in which Paul is commanding us not to be anxious. How on earth can we do that? You just need to read two-thirds of the New Testament to discover that Paul did not have an easy life and had every reason to be anxious. He was shipwrecked, flogged, imprisoned, and persecuted on a regular basis. Sometimes he lived in plenty, but there were many times he lived in lack. He overcame worry and anxiety by bringing every situation to God in prayer and petition—and this is key-with thanksgiving.
“Did you know that it is very difficult to be anxious and grateful at the same time? Try it. Take a moment and begin to thank God for every little thing He has done for you in the last year. Thank Him for your salvation. Thank Him for your provision. Thank Him for your family. Thank Him for having a roof over your head. Thank Him for the clothes on your back. Thank Him for the latte you may be drinking right now. And as you do this, watch the worry and anxiety begin to dissolve. Allow the peace of God to guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
“Instead of asking God the question ‘why’ right now, fill the why with worship. Once you’ve allowed worship to fill your heart, quiet your mind and listen to what God has to say. Lay down your worry and concerns and live in peace today. Watch God bless your life.”
- Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life
On the day that this was written, my wife had a biopsy scheduled for the following week. Our son’s bank account was not just too low to buy a bag of groceries, but the credit union had allowed him to go several hundred dollars in the hole, and we had to bail him out. No debtors prison but give him enough to be solvent until payday. And my wife was walking beside me until she wasn’t. She had to stop in the middle of a traffic lane due to extreme dizziness. While she leaned on her cane, not moving, I ran into the store, which has the pharmacy we needed to visit, and retrieved a motorized cart, just to have an old man try to pick a fight. I ignored the old man as I drove to my wife’s rescue.
Everyone has ample excuses to worry. I could have said in the last paragraph that I was worried about my left forearm, but even the doctor said not to worry. Why? Because the doctor had no idea what would cause pain halfway between the wrist and the elbow. As I type this, I am leaning against my left elbow to take the weight off my left arm because the pain is worse than ever. Jesus says to not worry. The doctor says to not worry. But when I have a moment with my family doctor, I will ask for a second opinion. And yes, I know the old joke, his second opinion could be “you could lose a few pounds.” Or “you are ugly, too.”
But Alex Seeley maps out a good strategy that sometimes works. We start going through our praises to God for the things that we take for granted: a roof over our head, our provision, our family, etc. But then your budget has been blown three months in a row. Two months were to pay for dental bills. I could say that the bills fixed things, but the massive bill was for a deep cleaning of my teeth, and they did not finish the work. Thus, will the gum disease (infections) come back? We do not have enough in the bank to pay that kind of payment again. And the third month was various purchases for grandchildren birthdays, and replacement of things that broke. My wife asked what I wanted for my birthday, and I said I already had enough, just in the replacement of a few broken things. Then we took from our meager bank account to ensure our son had the provision so that he did not lose the roof over his head.
All those things that Alex Seeley might think are so taken for granted that everyone has them… They do not always have them. Yet, God provides. And when we die from a disease that we did not know that we had, God is standing at the gates of Heaven to welcome us.
God still provides. It may not be what we were praying for, but He does.
My wife gets angry with me during these troubled times. She seems to enjoy worrying and she frets when I do not join her. I give her the old line about how a duck looks calm as it floats on the water, but its webbed feet are paddling like crazy underneath. She rolls her eyes and tells me to come up with new material.
And even when everything seems to fall apart, we have the good news that everything works for the good of those who love the Lord. It may not seem good at the time, but it works out for our good.
And that is one of the reasons why we worry. God does not clue us into the reason why this latest disaster in our lives will be something “good” for us down the road. Maybe our faith needed to grow a bit. Maybe we will not know until we are in a bear hug with Jesus Himself. Maybe at that point, we will be so grateful to be in that embrace that we will not think to ask, “Remember back in 2022 when that thing happened? How was that good for me?” No, we might not ask because when we are physically with Jesus and He calls us brother or sister, it simply will not matter.
So, instead of worrying, worship God. He has our best interests at heart.
Lord, guide me. I am like the duck who paddles like crazy. Sometimes, my emotions become on edge. I am trying to think of the why instead of simply saying, “God, You have everything under control. Your plan includes this little hiccup, and all will be well once we get around the bend in the road. Thank You. I Praise Your Holy Name. You have us in the palms of Your hands.” In Thy Name I pray. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.