Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.Corrie Ten Boom
It goes without saying that this year has been tough. On a personal level, our family has hit some financial setbacks, some job uncertainty, some emotional difficulties, some health issues.
On a larger scale, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic that some of us (*ahem*) thought would be over months ago. AND the nation is literally burning down around us. So. It’s been tricky.
It’s easy to spiral, to worry, to panic. These are logical responses to things we can’t control. Fear and anxiety helped our early ancestors react to dangerous situations, and we carry that with us still, as our fear response can help us analyze and make quick decisions.
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But excessive worry can be debilitating, and it directly contradicts the peaceful state of communion with God that He wants us all to aim for. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said at the last supper, “my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27).
Not once, even as He faced His crucifixion and the panicked scattering of His followers, did He tell us to be afraid.
Staying calm in the face of difficulty is an incredibly hard thing to do. But God wants us to try.
God Tells Us Not To Be Afraid
The Bible mentions worry over 100 times, urging us again and again not to be anxious or worry about the future:
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.Philippians 4:6-7
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . For your heavenly father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.Matthew 6:27-34
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.John 14:27
Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not!’Isaiah 35:4
And on it goes.
Trust the Engineer
So what is the answer, then? If we can’t worry, which is such a part of our human nature, what do we do instead? What counteracts anxiety?
That peaceful state of communion with God is based on trust. it’s one of the hardest things to do, but God calls us to it nonetheless.
It comes down to this: What do we really believe as Christians? Do we believe that God has it all under control? That all things work together for good for those who love Him? Does he guard our hearts and minds and futures?
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Or is it trust with a caveat? Sure, God, I trust you, BUT.
If God’s word is to be believed, He wants to give us the keys to the kingdom. God will never deny us anything unless 1) it’s not the best thing for us, 2) it’s downright harmful to us, or 3) He has something much better in store.
Our task, then, is to trust, even when it feels like the world is falling down around us. Even if we don’t feel like it. Even if the situation isn’t changing. Even if the answers aren’t coming.
The image that keeps me going these days is the train metaphor, attributed to Dutch writer Corrie Ten Boom: You are a passenger on a train, traveling through a dark tunnel. There is no light to see. You don’t know the route. Do you throw away your ticket and jump off the train?
You sit still. And you trust the engineer.