I struggle big time with being anxious due to fear of the unknown. We are constantly seeing tragic stories in the news and on Facebook that remind us how fragile our life on earth is - Parents losing children to freak accidents or illnesses; Spouses losing the person they thought they'd spend the rest of their lives with; Excited parents losing their babies before they had a chance to know them; Former classmates taking their own lives; Families losing their primary source of income due to lay-offs; Brothers and sisters in Christ being diagnosed with terrible diseases such as cancer and ALS.
When I hear about these things, my heart hurts so bad for them because I can't imagine (and I never want to imagine) what it feels like to experience that. I almost immediately turn to God in prayer for them, asking Him to be with them and to comfort them in ways that only He can, but then I selfishly ask God to never let the same happen to me.
Because when you hear about these tragic events, you realize how quickly life can change. How quickly everything that you love can be ripped away from you. And for me (maybe for you too?) it brings great worry and fear of the "what if." What if I lose David or one of the girls? What if one of us is diagnosed with the dreaded C-word? Or worse, what if one of the girls is? What if he loses his job and I have to go back to working full time? What if one of us is in an accident and loses a limb or ends up in a vegetative state? What if one of the girls gets kidnapped and sold to a sex trafficking ring? (Yes, my crazy mind goes there)
I also worry about our finances. Since making the decision to stay home with the kids, we have not been able to save money at nearly the rate that we were before. Our goal was to save up to be able to make a down payment on a house in the next few years and move into Madison (our house is kind of far out here, although we are zoned for Madison City Schools). Instead of growing our savings account, it has actually shrunk due to large unexpected expenses over the last year, which makes us worry what appliance or car is going to break next? How are we going to save for retirement or the girls college tuition or weddings?
In the past I have even found myself wondering why we have it so good. I could not be happier with this life that God has handed me with David and my two girls, but when I hear of things happening to other people, I wonder why does that happen to them? Why do I get to have a loving husband (who does dishes and helps with laundry), and two healthy children? Could it be too good? When is the other shoe going to drop? If we've got it this good, then eventually will something just as bad happen to us?
Well, I realized something very important - It doesn't work this way! [Does anyone else struggle with these thoughts?]
One of my goals for 2018 was to be more diligent about studying the Bible. I have studied a few New Testament books closely and have had the opportunity to read some study books/devotional books as well. Through all of this, I have found myself growing closer to God and better able to cast my fears and worries onto Him. This is what he wants us to do! Through study I have found a peace that I did not have before and it is the realization that God will always provide.
This is the mindset I try to carry these days: If I am truly where he wants me to be right now (and I believe with all my heart that staying home is my "calling" at the moment), then won't God take care of the rest? I have absolutely no need to worry about what is going to happen to us or how we are going to save for retirement or any of these other things that I worry about. All I need to do put my full faith in Him, continue to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and "keep calm and carry on."
I want to share a few thoughts, and a few verses, that help me feel more at peace when I start to feel my mind wander with worry.
1. God has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11)
He is the only one who knows what our future holds. This verse does not guarantee us a breezy, pain-free life, but God promises that he is looking out for our welfare, and through this we have hope. (see points 5 and 6 for more on that.)
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans
for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
2. He is always with us (Hebrews 13:5-6 and Joshua 1:9)
God promises us that He will never leave us. He is always here for us. Why then do we often turn to other outlets for comfort in rough times, when the One being who has complete control in our lives is always present? I also like to turn to Hebrews 13:5 when I begin to worry about finances. It reminds me to be content and that God will provide.
"Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what
you have, for he has said "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So
confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?"
- Hebrews 13: 5-6
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
- Joshua 1:9
3. He will provide for us (Luke 12:22-31)
I like this passage because Jesus is telling his disciples not to worry about food or clothing or anything else. He basically says if God provides for the birds and the flowers and the grass, don't you think that He will provide for us, who are of much more value to him than the birds and the flowers? He says "Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life span?" If God provides for nature, he will provide for us, and there's no reason to worry.
"Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.
For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father
knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things
will be added to you."
- Luke 12: 29-31
4. He wants us to put all our anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7)
He wants us to cast all of our anxiety on Him because He cares for us and is able to comfort us in ways that we can't comprehend.
"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you"
- 1 Peter 5:7
5. Life is not always going to be easy, but through trials, we learn and grow (Romans 5:3-5)
We are told numerous times throughout the Bible that we are going to face trials, but we are promised that if we lean on God for our strength, then we will gain the strength that we need to persevere, plus some.
Katie Bennett, in her book Heavenly Minded Mom, puts it this way: "We serve a big, good, sovereign, and wise God. He does not always protect us from suffering in this life because He sees an eternal picture. He knows that trials provide us with an opportunity to be refined. Through suffering, false hope is stripped away and replaced with real, eternal hope.Our loving Father knows that it is only in the midst of suffering that we have the opportunity to persevere and that it is through this perseverance that we store up treasures in heaven that will last for eternity. Our suffering isn't just a curse. It's also a gift."
This chapter in her book was a gut-check for me. It was then that I realized that I should not be worried about the unknown or what trials/pain I may have to suffer down the road. This is a hard one to accept, and I pray about it often (because I still have a tough time fully turning our lives over to Him and saying "your will be done, no matter what that involves"), but I know deep down that God has the big picture in mind, and even if the unthinkable were to happen to my family, I know that we will make it through and we will be ok.
"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces
endurance, and endurance produces character, and character
produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because
God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy
Spirit who has been given to us."
- Romans 5:3-5
6. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
This does not mean that every thing that happens in our lives will be good, but it will all work together for good in the end.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together
for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28
7. We will never understand God's plan, but when we turn our lives over to Him in prayer, we can find peace (Philippians 4:6-7)
This is one of my favorite verses and I find myself repeating it in my head when I feel myself becoming anxious. When my mind is spinning out of control with "what if's," I'll meditate on the words "the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds." (When I say I "meditate," I'm not sitting with my legs crossed going "ommm." What I mean is that I repeat the words over and over and try to really think about what they mean.) What I'm trying to remind myself as I do this is that I do not understand it. It is far beyond the comprehension that my tiny human brain is capable of. God is the only one that knows the plan. He sees the big, eternal picture and He has my best interest in mind. I may not understand why something I see as tragic is happening, but HE does. This peace that we find by casting our anxieties on Him through prayer will guard our hearts and minds, and we will find a comfort that we cannot find anywhere else.
"Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will
guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:6-7
My hope and prayer is that these verses will reach someone out there, and will help ease some anxiety, as they have helped me. I have found that consistent bible study has helped me to draw closer to God, and gain a better understanding of His character, what He expects from me, and ways that I can live my life in the image of Christ. Through this, I have been able to develop a peace with our current situation and ease the fear of the unknown that seems to frequently creep up.
I will link to the study/devotional books that I have read lately. If you choose just one out of these, I would recommend "By His Wounds You Are Healed" by Wendy H. Alsup. The others are great, but this study of Ephesians dove straight into scripture and has set a foundation for studying other books of the Bible.
Can you relate? What things worry you? What do you do to ease your worry? Do you have any verses you would add? Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about anything!
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Labels: faith, motherhood, parenting struggles, This Mom Thing