What, Me, Worry?

cookie jarWhat does a girl do when she’s anxious?  In my case, she bakes oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, settles down in front of her favorite chick flick and proceeds to eat the whole batch into oblivion. Chewy, sweet, slightly nutritious… escapism.

There are so many things that set our nerves on edge these days.  We worry about our children’s safety.  We hear stories about people showing up at schools with shotguns and predators’ trolling the internet. Our schedules seem to be non-stop, finances and relational issues bog us down, and we torment ourselves with all sorts of what-ifs: “What if I hate my job; lose my job and the roof caves in during the next rainstorm?”, “What if I’m spending too much time on Twitter?”

You may wonder if you exercise enough and feel guilty about eating junk food; think you should read the Bible more and be more patient with your kids.  World events are always looming as we turn on the daily news: “Will Iran acquire a nuclear bomb?”, “When will those pesky Congressmen finally get their acts together?” and “Earthquakes, tsunamis and oil spills—oh my!”

My cookie-eating-escapism works well when I consider all these things. And then it introduces a new worry: “Will my husband think I’m fat?”

Anxiety Feeds on Itself

Anxiety seems to feed on itself and it’s no wonder once we’ve started the fretting process (and subsequent cookie-eating, fingernail-biting, or coping behavior of choice), it seems we’re headed down the path of no-return. But does it really have to be that way?

Jesus addressed the subject of worldly cares when He was speaking to a crowd of people one day. He reassured them that He knew life was hard, but emphasized God has the things we worry about under His control and care.

“There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.  Look at the birds, free and unfettered not tied to a job description, careless in the care of God!  And you count far more [to Him] than birds.”  Matt 6:25-26 The Message

And He said as much to a wonderful lady named Martha, who worked, worried and wore herself down when Jesus came to visit.  She complained and fretted, while her sister, Mary, sat with Jesus listening to Him and taking in His words.  Martha’s distraction kept her from experiencing the benefit of that time with Jesus.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen the better, and it will not be taken from her”. Luke 10: 41 NIV

When we look at our To-Do lists, and the complications of our modern lives, it can be easy to forget that God loves us and has promised He’ll take care of us. But we need to take Him at His word, and add a little trust into the worry equation. Philippians 4:6-9 gives us some practical advice.  Here’s a short rhyme to help you, based on two points from that passage:

1)     Rejoice and Rest, Pray and Ask

“Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns”

2)     And in His Peaceful Guard You’ll Bask

“Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” The Message

In light of all there is to keep us up nights, turning worry into prayer, and leaning into God’s goodness will guard our hearts and keep our minds – and with the new mindset, we’ll be free to react in love, think on good things and quietly rest in the One who holds the whole world – and its worries! –  in His hands.

Rejoice and Rest, Pray and Ask
And in His Peaceful Guard You’ll Bask.
(Cookies optional.) 

Originally written for “my peeps” at Newport Mesa Church Women’s Ministry
GIFT Series 2013

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