Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16
[The following post was written a while ago but it seemed important to share it now.]
I am a worrier. I worry about everything, what I’m doing, what I’m not doing, how my children are doing, how my husband is doing, friends, families, even strangers. I worry. I worry about our country. I worry about our futures. I have so many people I worry about. So many circumstances to fret over. It is so HARD not to worry! Why? I have no idea! Does it change anything? Does it help anyone? NO! And what it does to me! Stress, unhappiness, wasted time – all things that I take on to accomplish NOTHING! Can you relate?
Luke 12: 25-26 (NIV) states: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” When I read this passage, I realized the act of worrying does nothing. That doesn’t mean we kick back, and don’t do anything at all. In fact, when I thought about this, I realized we can add hours to our lives by eating right, exercising, etc., but we CAN’T add hours by WORRYING about it. Now, a decision to “stop worrying” is about as effective as my decision to “stop overeating” BUT it is a decision that can move us in the right direction. By this I mean we decide it is something we want to accomplish, but we acknowledge the need for continuous renewal of our commitment to the decision. It is not a one time, flip a light switch, type of occurrence but instead is a skill to be developed over time.
For those who believe in God, there is always prayer. If there is a benefit to being spiritual, it is this. YOU don’t have to be in charge! You don’t have to take on responsibility for the world. There is something greater than you who is in control. You aren’t alone. You aren’t battling the troubles of life on your own. You don’t have to worry. You can trust that as bad as things may seem at times, there is something better on the horizon. Even if you’re facing the end of the journey in this life, there is still something better. There is hope for the future now or in the after-life.
With prayer, you can let go. You can release the worry, knowing that it’s going to be taken care of by someone better equipped than you to do it. It’s like going to the doctor. You’re sick but then you go to the doctor and turn it over to him or her. He knows what the problem is. She knows how to fix it. It may take medication or surgery but the doctor knows what to do. Now, you can still worry. You can go on the internet and look up your symptoms and arm-chair quarterback it and if it’s something minor, that may work but the more complex the medical problem, the more you rely on the doctor to figure it out and fix you. And the more competent the doctor, the more you can trust that it will be taken care of. Jesus is the great physician. Jesus is perfect so you can trust that He knows what the problem is and how to fix it. You can arm-chair quarterback Him as well but there’s no need.
Let’s take this analogy one step further. What do you do when you go to the doctor? Do you go, tell the doctor what the problem is and then go home and do nothing? NO! You follow the doctor’s directions. You take the medication he prescribed or you arrange to have the surgery she recommends. You take ACTION! You follow the doctor’s orders. But you trust that by following the directions of the doctor you will be healed.
For every worry I have, I try to find a way to do something. Now, let’s be clear, there are times when God tells us to wait, to rest in him and there’s a time for that but while we’re waiting, we can be ready. In Matthew 25 there is the parable of the 10 virgins. It is a story of 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Five took oil with them while five did not. Five were prepared while they were waiting and five were not. The parable teaches us that while God sometimes calls us to wait, he also calls us to be ready for when he comes.
It is the same with prayer. You go to God with all your concerns. You turn it all over to Him. But then you follow his instructions. You do what He has called you to do and it is there you find peace. You are at peace knowing the outcome is taken care of. You are at peace knowing you are doing what you can to fix the situation. You are at peace.
There are a few things I know: I know God loves me more than I could possibly imagine. That means there’s someone keeping an eye on what happens to me. It means I’m not alone. I know God is in charge. “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” Romans 8:28 NIV. I know whatever I face, God will find the good in it and make it manifest. I know there is a plan.
These truths are not unique to me! God loves you and is working towards good for you, too! It may not seem like it but he is. What do you do when the worry comes? Fight back with the truth! Remind yourself of all you know. You can write these promises down on a note card or Post-It and stick them on your mirror, on your fridge, or anywhere else you can think of. Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, hope, and love instead of worry. You can read your bible for comfort to remember all these truths. Even if you don’t believe in scripture there are simple truisms whether you believe them or not. The most important thing to remember is WORRYING DOESN’T HELP!
Focus on the Positive
When I’m depressed – really depressed – the world is colored by negative thoughts. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see things clearly so I have to really focus on seeing the truth. In the middle of the night when it’s dark outside it can be hard to navigate the way we’re used to: with our eyes. When it’s dark, we have to remember what things looked like in the daytime and trust that they are still there, even when we can’t see them clearly. We take what we can see – dim outlines – and extrapolate out to what we know is there – the edge of the bed, the corner of the dresser, the doorframe.
It’s the same way when we look at the world. We have to remember what that world looked like when we could see clearly rather than believe it is as we see it with our depression lenses in. Specifically, I’m talking about the good things in the world. Change your focus from the limits of what you can see to what you know to be there – even in the dark. When our hearts and minds are open to the positive we will be able to see the positive.
But what do you do when you do ALL THAT and STILL the pain is swallowing you whole. Well, then you batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. You realize that you’ve done all you can, the world is still dark but you hang on. You may be hanging on by your fingertips as you’re buffeted from all sides but you HANG ON! I’ll say this again and again: don’t give up! Don’t let the storm win. Ride it out until the clouds break and sun shines through. The storm is bad but it’s been bad before and it’ll be bad again. You can ride it out. You are strong enough. I know it’s a really, really bad storm. I know you’re hurting. I know you’re trying but you can do this. You can ride out the storm. You can take that worry and turn it to peace. Just give yourself time to ride out the storm.