As you may have gathered from past newsletters, the months from August of 2017 until now have been difficult months for our family. Our hearts have been troubled with one impossible problem and many little ones, but through it all we have held tight to God’s promises that He loves us and intends good for us even when things are not going the way we would like. During these immense times of questioning, being frustrated with a lack of answers, struggling to maintain faith anyway, and attempting to continue to walk in His ways, we knew above all that He was with us and that in the end He would triumph. And I can announce that He did and that God proved once again that He was even in our trials, and that He does love us and intends good for us.
As I look back on these 10 months I can now see God working and His timing. I can see that none of us were ready for what He was to do until now. That got me to thinking about how much easier it is to throw myself into His arms for the impossible, yet how much harder it is for me to stop the little worries that seem to plague my everyday.
I used to pick on my mother who was known as a great worrier. In fact she told me that if she didn’t worry about stuff, who would? It became her job to be the family worrier. I, on the other hand, was known for my lectures on the wrongness of being a worrier if you were a believer. It was a matter of faith. Then my mother died and I have grown older and now I find that I am often plagued by the worries of the day, “the what ifs?” What if it rains today? What if the knee that is hurting gets worse? How will I get up the stairs? What if my son and his family have to move to Florida or some place even further away? What if another appliance breaks down? What if we don’t have enough money to fix it? What if we can’t get anyone to put on the new roof we need? What will I do when my doctor retires? How will I survive one of my best friends moving away? What if I have to go into the hospital or a nursing home and sell my house? And on and on it goes as each day brings more and more “what ifs.” I began to see that I was becoming my mother, the chief family worrier, and I knew it was wrong, but why did I keep thinking this way?
For those of you who don’t know me well, I have to admit that I am a “control freak!” The Lord has been working on this trait ever since I was born again. In fact, the first prophecy I ever got was “Be still and know that I am God.” That same prophecy kept coming every few years afterwards and God tells it to me often in my times with Him. So when I began to think about what was going on in my thinking, that I was spending so much time worrying about little things, I began to see that in the big things I had to admit I was helpless and needed a big God to orchestrate a good ending, but in the little things somehow I figured I had to fix it, to come up with a solution to the problem. I even have had a fight over writing this devotion as I know that you all know that Bible passage that the Lord kept bringing up to me when worry set in. You can find it in Matt. 6:25-34, which, by the way in the NIV, is labeled “Do Not Worry.” This is where Jesus tells us not to worry about what we eat, drink, or wear or everyday things as they are available for worry everyday. He wants us to set our minds on the things of above that will affect our eternity.
As I was thinking about this, another Bible verse came to mind. It was “the little foxes spoil the vine.” (Song of Sol. 2:15) The ESV says “catch the foxes..the little foxes” because they eat the tender grapes before they are ripe and spoil the vineyard’s production. I see that as a warning for our thinking too. I think that the devil would like to stir up worries so that we would be focused on the little things, which will chip away at our faith and our ability to bear fruit for our Lord. If we are focused on what God might not do or on things we are worried about our ability to take care of, then we will miss the opportunities to display faith to unbelievers or even encourage the faith of fellow believers. We can’t share the light of God’s love for His people if we are no different from the world whose only focus is on their own survival, pleasure, or worries. We are to show them who we believe in, and when we are stuck in our worry we cannot show them our belief that God cares for us in all circumstances big and small. Worries are the little foxes that spoil the vine of faith, the testimony of God’s goodness to us.
Ps. 13:2 (NIV) says, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” This Psalm is written by David and expresses my feelings about worry. It is a wrestling, but if we don’t wrestle with those worries we are allowing the devil to win, to cloud our testimony of what we say we believe about God. David was talking about a real enemy, Saul’s army, but it was the devil who was antagonizing Saul with the worry that David would take over the kingdom, so Saul and his army were chasing David and his army to destroy him. David needed to strengthen himself in the Lord to fight this battle and so do we. When worries come we need to stand against them, tell them to “Stop” and start to speak the word of the Lord out loud to remind ourselves that God is in control, that He loves us, and that He intends good for us in the little things as well as the big impossible things.
Ps. 34:4 (NIV)* says: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
Ps. 32:10* says: “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.”
Ps. 28:7-8* says:
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
The LORD is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”
This is a daily fight, but the Lord wants us to go to Him for our marching orders rather than trying to figure out the best course of action for ourselves and then ask God to bless it.
Philippians 4:6 (AMP) says: “Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything (every circumstance and situation) by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”
I think that that makes it very clear that the Lord wants us to “bother Him” with “every circumstance and situation,” as He knows the best move for us. I have taught others that God has 3 answers: “Yes,” “No,” Wait.” But what I have not learned well enough myself is the waiting part. Waiting always seems a waste of time, but I have found that if we will wait on the Lord for the answer, the timing of putting that answer in place is the best answer in the long run.
Faith means that we trust God in His waiting room. While we are waiting and trusting for one answer there is always work to do in other areas. Sometimes it is in the waiting for the answer that the Lord prepares us for the answer He is willing to give us. It has now become abundantly clear to us in our big problem that that the Lord was working on our questions of “where,” “why,” “when,” and “how,” while He was working on the people of the answer who were also asking “why,” “how,” “who,” and “when.” During the time of connecting both the question and answer God was waiting for both sides to have time to get ready for what He was going to do.
Waiting is also an important part of faith building and God is so interested in growing our faith that He will delay an answer, giving Him time to rub off our rough points with “iron sharpening iron” and bring about the change He needs to do in us to prepare us for the good answer He is preparing for us. A.W. Tozer said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resoles a great deal of anxiety.” It may resolve it but it doesn’t make it any easier in the waiting process.
When we are waiting for an answer to our problem, instead of fretting, we need to submit to the Lord’s timing, and believe that He is the God of the impossible as well as the possible. During this time trust, in His power and His unfailing love and grace, and praise Him for His past goodness to us.
Each morning we need to rise saying, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let me rejoice in it!” (Ps. 118:24) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4 KJV)
So how do I fight the worrying thoughts that keep coming upon me?
- I say “stop” to those thoughts.
- I remind myself that God loves me and intends good for me.I heard in a movie once “All things work for good in the end, if it isn’t good, it isn’t the end!” I think it was a take on Rom. 8:28* “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.”
- I start to remember all the times God has been faithful to me in the past.
- I start to sing God’s praises to encourage and strengthen myself in Him.
- I pray and ask for God’s help in letting go of these worries, then I lay them at His feet and leave them there and go about my day.
- Each time they come back I refuse to think on them.Instead I think about my Lord and His goodness to me, and then I carry on.
Ps. 13:5-6* “But I trust in your unfailing love;
My heart rejoices in your salvation,
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
For he has been good to me.”
*Scripture references taken from the NIV