Worry and the grace to NOT.

Worry.

It’s something we do a LOT in our culture.

 

“I hope I have enough gas money to get me through til pay day…”

“I’m gonna end up dying alone surrounded by my ten cats.”

“What if I really am hideously ugly and people just pretend to like me?”

 

Okay so these are laughable, but I will be the first to admit, these type of things cross my mind from time to time. We worry about silly things! And I’ve exemplified what I think are the three largest categories of worries:

1) Worry for fear of not being provided for/having resources

2) Worry for fear of not being loved

3) Worry for fear of not being accepted

 

There might be more, but I’d say most of our worries fit into those three themes.

And did you catch the word in each?

Fear. 

All of our worries stem from it. But God actually has a lot to say about fear. According to, well, the google search I just did, the Bible says “do not fear” about 365 times. Accurate number or not, that’s a lot!

Just in Jeremiah alone, God speaks to human fear about a gazillion times.

Jer. 1:8 “‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”

Jer. 1:14 “‘They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”

Jer. 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”

Jer. 30:10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ declares the Lord.” 

Those are just four, but there are so many. There are others where God assures Jacob that his discipline of Israel is in love, others where He talks of not losing heart when there are rumors being spread. He continually states I am with you. God knows where we struggle. He KNOWS how we worry.

And did you catch the pattern through those verses? Declares the Lord. These statements aren’t delivered in a flippant or wishy-washy manner. Can’t you almost hear it? The God and King of this world is declaring in a strong, assuring voice that YOU, child, should not fear, because He is with you.

There’s the old testament scripture, but don’t forget that Jesus echoed those same verses in Matthew 28 after giving the Great Commission:

“And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”

Bottom line, the God who created the twinkling, diamond stars in the sky, rainbows, and talking parrots is beside you in your daily life, asking you to take heart and not fear. Asking you to not worry.

 

But yet we still do? Why is this?

There are a number of obvious reasons, but they all lead back to unbelief. We don’t believe that He is really next to us during that big exam or there for comfort when we’re crying. I’ll admit that this is something I struggle with… and I think it takes continual prayer that the presence and companionship of God will become more real to us. And it really does, when we return again and again to ask for our eyes to be opened! But recently I realized it’s also more than that.

 

Just a quick little anecdote for ya.

While I was on spring break towards the end of my study abroad program in Spain, my wallet and phone were stolen. That means my passport, my credit card, my driver’s license and student ID, not to mention all of EVERYTHING stored on my iPhone. (And we could talk alll day about how dumb I was to get it stolen, but lets just skip that part.)

I suddenly had a very real reason to worry. Amid mixed feelings I rode our 5 hour bus from Granada to Segovia without music or sudoku or Facebook or anything I was used to. Part of me thought, well hey, this is a chance to be free from materialism, be forced to rely on the Lord, not have my head stuck in technology all the time… kind of freeing, maybe? But the other part of me was obviously devastated. I let myself cry for a bit during that bus ride, mainly (admittedly) mourning all the art/song lyric ideas, quotes, and books referred by friends that were stored in my Notes app that I would never get back (sync that crap, people!).

However all I kept hearing in my head was “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Over and over and over. “In this world you will have trouble…” I just stared out the window and prayed through the whole bus ride, and at some point I knew I was going to be okay. “But take heart! For I have overcome the world.” He had overcome the world, so he had the entire world on lock. He was going to provide for me. He knew who had my identity at the moment. He knew how to help me get it back. All I had to do is trust.

For the record at times it wasn’t easy to lean on God’s understanding of the situation, while I was in the dark. But something had clicked. I realized my supernatural solidity (for real) when finals week came around and I still didn’t have any identification. Although my wallet had been found with all its documents still inside (HE WAS WORKIN SOMMA THAT WORLD-OVERCOMIN MAGIC PEOPLE), the police station had sent it via normal mail and it still wasn’t there. Classic Spain. I was leaving the country in three days, and would have to go to the American Embassy the morning of my flight and buy an emergency passport if it still didn’t come before that.

 

Meanwhile finals week in the KIIS Study Abroad Center included a big hullabaloo about the way grading was being finalized in our Spanish classes. One friend was freaking out that he might get a B which could would lower his perfect 4.0 GPA by a bit. Now, even though that seems like a silly worry to me, it is something a lot of these honors-student profiles hold themselves to, and something they worry about a lot. I have my own silly worries, and I understand perfectionism, so I’m not judgin’. But it was this example in my friend that made me realize exactly what worries do: they imprison us, without reason. My friend didn’t have to hold onto the grade situation. There was nothing he could do to change it, and yet he was going on and on about how he wouldn’t be able to focus on life until he knew his final grade. I suddenly saw clearly what he was doing to himself… what we do to ourselves when we worry. We aren’t living in freedom, the freedom Christ died for. At that moment of interaction with my grade-focused friend, I personally had no documented identification and no way to know if I would have it in time to leave Spain, but I was nowhere near as worried as he was about the future. But I knew it wasn’t because I was better than him. I knew it was something that wasn’t of me, something supernatural. When I put myself in my friend’s place, held  captive by his own perfectionism, I felt a lot of pressure. In comparison to that, the way I felt about my own passport situation suddenly became such a gift. I realized, by comparison, the power and amazingness of grace.

Grace isn’t a one-time thing or just something God gives us when we’ve messed up terribly. It’s that, and MORE. It’s the power to live our daily lives in freedom. A state of mind. Freedom from sin, moment by moment. Freedom from ourselves and especially our worries, our insecurities. Grace is that little bit of courage given straight from God that makes you say, “no, you know what, I will believe am beautiful in my own way, because I was made by God.” Or, “actually, I won’t take the last bite of this delicious chocolate cake, in fact I will let my friend have it.”

Okay, maybe I’m the only one who struggles with Chocolate-Induced Selfishness but my point is, it’s the little things.

Sometimes it’s just Love winning the battle that takes place in your own mind. 🙂

 

I don’t think you’re an awful person if you worry a lot. I think it’s human and it’s a natural reaction to the pressure of this world. But as I have prayed for it, I have found more and more ways to let go of the wheel, and avoid worry. We were never meant to live enslaved to our own minds! There’s grace for the taking.

I urge you to ask God for the grace to do and be and think and feel GOOD things every day, walking in the power of grace for each moment. Sometimes we only ask for grace to cover our sins. But if we think of grace as the power of Love in our lives, we can walk forth in confidence, including God in the little things. And when we do that, we’ll find that we can actually live in freedom! Because in the end, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

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