Everyone tends to worry. It robs us of peace and joy. Worry steals our hope. Our good Shepherd knows how worry creates adverse effects upon our health. Jesus advises, “Do not worry about your life… Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”(Matthew 6:25-27).
How do we not worry when we’re facing a deadline? When a car payment is due and finances are tight. When our children make foolish choices. When we receive a gloomy medical report.
What is worrying you?
Several years ago my 18-year-old daughter planned to move out of the house on the heels of high-school graduation. I worried! Worry caused me to imagine awful scenarios. I lost sleep. I rehearsed a plethora of “what ifs.” Worry dragged me around by the neck and choked my faith.
Hannah had serious reasons to worry. For years she suffered barrenness. Hannah’s culture labeled her a “failure.” She experienced ongoing rejection and shame, painful emotions. (1 Samuel 1)
To make matters worse, Hannah’s husband had two wives. The “other woman” had a fruitful womb and never let Hannah forget it. Scripture says her stinging remarks “went on year after year.” Eli, the high priest, created more anxiety. As Hannah poured out her heart in prayer, he accused her of being drunk. He urged, “Get rid of your wine.”
Anxiety racked Hannah emotionally and physically, but she never lost faith. Hannah didn't pray for escape. She didn't plead for release from her marriage or for vengeance on the “other woman. She simply continued to tell God her heart’s desire for a son.
As Hannah pressed into God and prayed, their intimacy grew. Her faith increased! Eventually, Hannah learned how to rely upon God rather than herself. She learned the remedy for worry.
Hannah finally entrusted the most precious yearning of her heart to the Lord. “… give me a son and I’ll give him completely, unreservedly, to you” (vs. 11 MSG). That’s when worry and peace made their final collision. She believed wholeheartedly God had the ability to make a difference, and faith won. Joy and peace filled her . (1 Samuel 1:11)
I, too, resigned my daughter’s future and entrusted my precious child into God’s hands. I “cast all my anxious “what ifs” on the One who cares.” (1 Peter 5: 6)
I learned that “to cast” means “throw off.” Jesus “cast out” demons, with authority. By “casting out” our anxious “what ifs”, we choose to trust God to protect, guide and unfold His perfect ways.
Bowing in prayer, I imagined gripping each anxious thought, each wild imagination, and throwing them into God’s lap. I also used slips of paper etched with personal worries and put them inside my hand crafted “worry box.” It reminds me to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 3:6) “… and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind.” (vs. 7)
The next time you start to worry, take every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:3-5) Honestly and openly tell God what’s worrying you. Then with all authority, cast your cares upon Him. This kind of dependence upon God replaces worry with peace.