I was recently speaking with a friend about something that we were reading in our F-260 reading plan—something that a number of people at The Chapel are reading through. The conversation led to thoughts that many of us wrestle through—what if something terrible happens to me, my family, or my friends?
If we trust Jesus as sovereign (and our trust or lack of trust has no bearing on his sovereignty), it seems like the amount we worry should only decrease as we walk with him and understand more of his grace and mercy. However, this decrease is not often that apparent. As life continues for us, the number of things to worry about only increases, and the number of worries multiplies each time. How do we deal with that?
I think worry increases, in part, because we view God as all about retribution. We feel an insatiable need to do all the right things because we believe that God is standing by, ready to zap us. One misstep and it’s all over—we get cancer, get in a car wreck, and go bankrupt. That thought fails to remember reminders about the character of God (Ps 103:8) and that he is a giver of good (James 1:16-17). We are all-too-familiar with our own sinfulness and know the pain of a fallen world, and that can have an inappropriate place in our minds and hearts when it comes to how we view how life unfolds.
Talking with my friend, and thinking about it since that conversation, has me mulling over a few things:
- Worry is antithetical to faith: I don’t agree when people say the opposite of faith is doubt. Doubt is real and happens in all of us. Jude reminds us to have mercy—not anger—on those who doubt (Jude 22). Faith says, “The Lord is in control and I trust him over the circumstances.” Worry says, “There must be something that I can do to control these circumstances.” Jesus reminds us that worry is an unnecessary burden for those who follow him (Matt 6:25-34), yet we still do it.
- Marriage and family adds complexity: Paul says this clearly when telling the Corinthians that the unmarried are able to focus on the things of the Lord, but the married must focus on worldly things (1 Cor 7:32-34). Thus, in the same chapter, Paul both encourages getting married (if people must) and also talks about how marriage adds difficulty because it divides a believer’s interests. This is true. As a family grows, an inordinate amount of concerns starts to creep into our minds. However, this reality doesn’t negate that Jesus doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow.
So what are we left to do? I have both rational (in an earthly sense) and irrational fears about my life and my family. I’d hate for anything bad to happen to my family or for anything to happen to yours. I’d hate for anything to happen to you. How do we navigate painful life in a fallen world? How do we keep our faith strong? How do we demonstrate Jesus through our pain and suffering? There’s one thought that I’m working through that is starting to help me here:
- God will provide what we need when we need it: There is nothing new to this idea. However, the thought meets me in my anxiety in ways that prove abundantly helpful and can spur on my faith. What if something terrible happens to my children? Well, I’d hate it. I can’t imagine right now going through something like that (and, also, I’m currently not—so why even worry?). However, do I believe that Jesus—the man of sorrows who is acquainted with my grief (Isa 53:3)—will meet me in that moment? Do I believe that Jesus will meet you in that moment and give you what you need? Absolutely. He doesn’t give me what I need before I need it; he gives me what I need when I need it—which is not a moment too soon.
As a young girl, Corrie Ten Boom, after visiting a family that had just lost an infant, had a realization that her own parents were not out of death’s reach. As her father, Casper, came home that night, Corrie couldn’t shake her fear. She writes of this interaction in The Hiding Place.
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie, . . . when you and I go to Amsterdam—when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.” (p. 44)
When fears feel crushing—do you believe that, should the unthinkable come to pass, the Lord will be there? Do you believe that he will provide what you need? If so, then you have all you need. Don’t let the fear take root—believe what is true. The Lord meets you, and never a moment too late or too soon.