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Monday, November 3, 2008

Real Hope for the Worrying World

There are just so many reasons to worry these days. Sometimes the news makes my stomach tie in knots. How about you? I hear about people dying in the war in the Congo or starving to death in places like Haiti. Closer to home, many U.S. residents have lost their jobs, their homes, and their retirements over the past few months. Some of these people did unwise or even greedy things with money, but many did not--even so, we all have to suffer for it. Lastly, the wholesale endorsement of immorality and rebellion against God in our culture and public educational system threatens all our futures. I could sit around worrying about all of these things, or I could turn it all over to God.

Now, this may not be the best definition of worry, but in my mind, worry is that anxious feeling I get when I'm afraid of something bad that could happen. Sometimes that anxiety is a fear of something that never actually happens. For instance, worrying the night before about failing a test or blowing a presentation, but discovering the next day that I knew the material well and could handle the pressure. Sometimes that fear actually does come true. For instance, a person could be worried about his/her family member suffering or dying after the doctor issues a terminal diagnosis. Sadly, miracles don't always happen, and often a terminal diagnosis really does mean that we are going to lose the person we love.

In either situation, worrying doesn't actually change the outcome. It can sometimes help us come up with ideas for preventing the outcome we fear, but more often, worrying is what we do when we've done all we can and the feared situation is still there. In these situations, when we are helpless to do anything about what we fear, God has offered us hope, not worry.

Philippians 4:6 states, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." What does that mean? God is telling us that if anything is scary enough that we are worrying about it, we should tell Him about it (prayer), ask Him to do something about it (petition), and praise Him because we know He has heard us(thanksgiving).

Anything, from thinning hair to someone's impending death, that causes us to worry, is worth telling God about. The Bible also says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7 NIV). God wants to hear from you. He's not too busy to listen to you, and He's not going to call any of your worries stupid or silly.However, you are silly if you don't take advantage of this great offer to live a worry-free life!

I Told God Everything, So Why Do I Still Have to Face All the Things I Was Worried About?

God didn't promise us that the big exam tomorrow, or the cancer, or the pregnancy, etc. would go away if we told Him it was worrying us. However, God did offer us a promise. Romans chapter 8, verse 28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This means that if we are counted among those who love and obey God, He will always make even the grimmest of situations work out for good in our lives--even if what is "good" isn't exactly what we wanted Him to do for us. The statement has only one qualification--you have to have a real relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, before He can make "all things work out" for you.

Well, I Don't Know God; Does That Mean I'm Out of Luck?

Absolutely not! You'll need to get a relationship with God, but that is a pretty easy matter. All you have to do is ask Him--and of course, obey Him. If you don't love God or care about what He says, you are just using Him for what you can get from Him, and He's not going to cater to such abuses.

Love God because He has absolutely no obligation to love you or help you, yet He does it willingly. Love God because even though you have rejected Him and done things to displease Him up until now, He has still made Himself very accessible through the willing sacrifice of His son, Jesus. Love God because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23 NIV), but Jesus has paid that price so that if you ask Him for it, you can have the gift not only of freedom from worry, but also of eternal life in Heaven.

Finally, obey God because He is sovereign over all Creation, and because you love Him and are grateful for everything I've already told you about Him!

Until next time, keep trusting God and learning all you can about Him. He truly is an awesome person and the best friend you could have when times are tough and you feel worried or stressed.


Anonymous said...

You've hit the nail on the head again!

And to anyone who is still worrying, here's another reminder:

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you" (Isaiah 54:10).