I worry. There. I said it. I confess I worry about my grown children. I worry about my grandchildren who are only four months old! (How much can one worry about babies? But I do, I worry for their future.) I honestly carry too many burdens of this world as well.
To literally give them and my thoughts over to Jesus is harder than I’d like to admit. I find myself obsessing over things, especially in my longing for everyone and everything to be alright. The propensity of it to consume me before I realize it is embarrassing, really.
How many hours of my day are spent weighted down by the worries and cares of the people I love? And because I love them, isn’t it natural to worry about them? Justified even? What about the world? Shouldn’t I be caring for the world and all things in it? Caring—yes. Stressing—no.
Often in the last few years, Jesus reminds me continually of His ache for us,
“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG) “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 TPT)
Unforced rhythms of grace and tender care sound so refreshing. I need that.
What does fear have to do with it?
Underneath worry and anxiety is fear. They are connected. When a fear consumes us, it gives birth to worry and anxiety. From that point, it can control or paralyze us.
I worry about the things and people I care about because there is something I fear. I fear them getting hurt. Or, I fear they’ll lose faith living in this world gone mad as many of their generation already has. My desire is for them to endure until the end as Jesus desires. For their love to not grow cold in the rampant of sin and hatred. (Matthew 24:9-13) One hour in the news these days can set off many reasons to be afraid for ourselves or the ones we love.
Last week, we began the conversation of How to Respond to Fear, Worry, and Anxious Thoughts. You will want to click the highlighted link to read it if you missed it!
Fear is common to everyone. We skimmed ranges and examples of fear. Uncovered ways the church has often mishandled fear/worry/anxiety on both ends of the spectrum. Considered there’s likely a story behind it all; how our fears often have roots.
But before we can interpret what is going on, we need God’s rescue. We simply need Him to reach out his hand to catch us as we sink beneath the waves like Peter, looking at all the chaos around us. I was reading today how Jesus didn’t preach a sermon on perspective before pulling Peter up from the water. First, He reached out His hand and caught him! Then, He spoke to Peter.
The book also uses the same scripture in Matthew of coming to Jesus with our burdens. So, I know I’m not alone in this. I agree with the author that “the world is harsh, but God is gentle; He knows what your life is like. What we need to do is put ourselves in places that allow us to receive his help.”1
We need to practice giving our fears, worries, and anxieties over to Jesus.
For the harder-to-overcome, it isn’t slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound, but rather a tender salve that needs reapplying.
So How Does It Work?
When you apply the words of God like a balm to your fears and worries, it has a comforting, restorative effect.
Read that again.When you apply the words of God like a balm to your fears and worries, it has a comforting, restorative effect. Click To Tweet
You can trust what God speaks will not return empty; it will accomplish all He desires for you. (Isaiah 55:11) As you personalize and pray the scriptures He has provided, they become the oil that soothes, and your prayers become the fragrance to protect you against worry.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you. Stay alert! [most versions also include “be of sober spirit” or “mind.”] Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…”1 Peter 5:7-9
Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion hungry to devour. He catches a whiff of your fear as it permeates the air. Hiding at first, he scopes out your position, gets familiar with your vulnerabilities, then takes advantage of them. If you are caught off guard, you are likely to react with more fear, inciting an attack as the smell of your fear reaches his nostrils.
But imagine a different scenario. You are repeatedly casting all your anxiety on God. Because of this, you are more alert, and sober in spirit. This working out of your faith creates a resistance to your enemy. God’s Word becomes like an oil that repels; the fragrance hits your enemy’s nose, and he is turned away.
A Most Powerful Help
Applying and reapplying the balm of scripture is where practice comes in. It’s going to take a few times. Maybe several. However many it takes until you feel your heart lighten as your fears and worries fade. This rhythm is meant to be a way of life, not just a one-time thing.
I will often personalize verses as I pray them by inserting my situation and/or name. It is powerful and freeing to experience the effects of it in my day to day. We partner with God when we reach out our hand for Him to grab it, like He did for Peter, in this way. Below are a couple you can download to your phone or print.
Beloved, narrow is the way to life and to God’s Kingdom. The world isn’t going to take you this route. It does not offer the same peace God offers. But God is kind in His understanding toward you. He does not diminish your struggle. Answer His call to “Come,” to get away with Him and recover your life.
If these prayers help you, please share them with a friend.
What other scriptures help you when you are afraid? I’d love to hear in the comments.
1“Get Your Life Back” by John Eldredge, pp. 15 & 17
Lion photo by Sergey Pesterey on Unsplash