Just for fun, I am posting a piece I wrote in 2006. How interesting to read this with 2018 eyes...
Modern America is plagued by an epidemic of anxiety - so many people are afraid and unsettled. We are worried about the government, about terrorists, about the economy, about the drug problem, about the Middle East…the list is long and complex. Closer to home, we worry about our marriages, our finances, our kids, and our futures. I sometimes find myself lying awake in bed at night worrying - about anything and absolutely everything. I might start out thinking about an illness (is it cancer?) or a bill to pay (how will we ever get the money together?) Then I will progress to my friend’s struggling marriage, moving along to some situation that might potentially cause division in our ministry. Once I get started, I have a terrible time stopping – never mind sleeping. And, judging from the number of sleep aides I see advertised, I am not the only one who loses sleep over worry. Worry seizes a person, and it is a very easy habit to acquire.
As if we didn’t already have enough to worry about, we now have help in thinking of things to worry about. I am talking about the media, most specifically the modern “news” programs. There are entire channels devoted to it. They all want us to pick their show and their channel, and sensationalism sells, so sensationalism we get. Remember Y2K? How ridiculous that all seems now, but we were really in a panic. All day and all night coverage of events is amazing only because the technology that allows us to have instant access to information is amazing. However, that is the only good thing about around-the-clock coverage.
I didn’t pull myself away from the television at all during the entire night of the last two presidential elections, or on September 11, 2001. The only reason I did during Hurricane Rita was because the power went out! I am not at all sure that watching the same, anxiety-inducing information over and over didn’t actually hurt me. But I am absolutely sure that it did not help me in any way.
We are tuning in and plugging in to the wrong source for our mental and emotional well-being. I am all for being informed, and I do believe we ought to know what is going on in the world. But while all of those famous and intelligent news anchors may be able to deliver the news, they can’t do anything at all to make or change the news (even if they do try!). There is only One who can change and redirect the courses of individuals, nations, wars, storms, and diseases. There is only One who can help us in our anxiety and confusion. As Isaiah foretold, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is the only One who can really help us when we are troubled. If you were to go back and re-read the four gospel accounts, you would notice that Jesus spent much of His time and breath in reassuring us that God is not just some remote, distant creator. He did not just make us and then spin us off into space to fend for ourselves. Nor is He desirous to punish or torment us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, yes – but also to show us the Father. In the Old Testament, God is referred to as father just a handful of times, most often in the context of someone to be revered and highly respected. In the New Testament, in the gospels alone, Jesus calls God Father 178 times!
The parable of the lost son tells it best. No matter how we have lived our lives in the past, now matter how disrespectful we may have been to our Father, He is watching and waiting for us to return to Him. When we do return, there is much joy in His heart, and full acceptance. (Luke 15:11-31) He tells us that no sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge – and how much more important are we to Him than a sparrow. (Matt. 6:25-32)
When we know God, there is a tremendous peace that floods our being. When we know God, we understand that He is good and trustworthy. He holds everything together, even when things seem like they are surely flying apart. Our life matters to Him – He is concerned with even the small details of our lives. Resting our lives on the safe and firm foundation of God's character yields the blessing of peace.
When we are little children, the cares of this world mean nothing to us. I do not recall a single night as a child that I lay awake worrying about where the money would come from to pay the bills, or how I was going to manage to get to swim practice when my sister had a cross-country meet on the other side of town at the same time. My parents might have lain awake worrying, but I didn’t even think about those things – I knew they would work it out for me. In the same way, we are able to have the kind of relationship with God that we can leave the “worrying” to him.
Worry is a distraction that can rob us of precious time and energy. How many delightful moments do we miss with our families and friends because we are busy freaking out over something in our lives? “Not right now…” is something we utter too often. And how many of us are literally sick from worry? Ulcers, stomach troubles, headaches… many of our sufferings are of our own doing. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes? 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 that they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
The peace of the Holy Spirit is a supernatural, life-changing thing. A good friend of mine was going through a terrible time in her marriage. Her husband – a minister! – was being terribly tempted by a woman in their congregation. It was the kind of situation we hear about after-the-fact all the time; after the wife gives up and leaves him, or after the husband gives into temptation and falls into sin. But this time, something miraculous happened: the wife received what can only be called a supernatural influx of faith and peace from the Lord assuring her that He was in control of even this seemingly hopeless situation. The road they all walked over the course of a year was very rocky, but the peace of the Lord carried that whole family through to the end of the crisis, and today their marriage is stronger than ever.
I recently went through the longest weekend of my life after a medical test yielded nearly 30 areas of my colon to biopsy. As a woman in my mid-30’s with two young daughters, my first thought was, what will happen to my children if I die of cancer? I felt myself being literally seized by fear and worry. It nearly takes your breath away. But we prayed, and asked several close, trusted friends to pray with us. Over the course of the five days we had to wait for the test results, I knew the Lord was with me because I could feel the peace that He brings. I can trust Him – He has certainly proven that over and over again in our lives. I entered the doctor’s office for my follow-up visit certain of the fact that whatever news we received that day, God was going to be with each of us every step of the way.
The peace of God is a valuable, soul-winning gift. No one on this planet has peace like a believer in Jesus can have peace. Last fall the Gulf Coast experienced the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. When, a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita threatened the Houston area, we witnessed a huge exodus of people who all came out of Houston through our little town of Huntsville. The night before the storm was to make landfall, it was estimated that our town of not quite 40,000 had an extra 200,000 people stay the night! Many churches opened shelters, and we all saw souls saved that weekend. When Christians display the peace of knowing and trusting God in the middle of a literal or figurative storm, people notice and want that peace in their own lives. In such a time as this, when there are wars, diseases, storms, divorces, drugs, and financial troubles burdening just about everyone, Christians must display and share the peace of God. It is what the world needs desperately, and the Holy Spirit has an abundance at the disposal of every Christian.
Next week, let me tell you the rest of that story!
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Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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