How to let worry become an opportunity for prayer
Posted in , May 23, 2016
Just when I think the world is a lovely place, the newspaper will run some story about horrifying financial turmoil on the horizon or some enterprising marketer will ping my inbox with a headline that promises global catastrophe. Or there will be some advertisement at the bottom of a website telling me about the five sure signs of a heart attack, convincing me that I’ve got them.
Fear sells. People will do all sorts of crazy things–and buy all sorts of crazy things–because they’ve been made afraid. Scary headlines get foot traffic. Scary news makes people forget who–and Whose–they are. Fortunately there is another source that offers balm for such nerve-jangling stuff. Here are five verses from the Good News meant to calm your heart.
1) “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)
It’s not as though there weren’t catastrophic things happening in Biblical times. This verse was written for the early church when those first followers of Jesus faced persecution, loss, banishment in a brutal world. But they weren’t urged to put their heads in the sand. They were to call on God’s love and their love for each other.
2) “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27)
Jesus knew what was ahead for Him and the disciples when He uttered these words on the eve of the Crucifixion. Note, he didn’t say, “You’re going to be scared out of your wits.” (Yes, they were.) But He gave his followers peace. Always. Forever.
3) “But now, says the Lord…Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Do you ever realize what power there is in calling someone by name? Don’t your ears perk up when someone says your name? Don’t you feel special, important, recognized? I love the deep personalization in this verse. It might come from a prophet of the 8th century BC. but it feels as contemporary as an email or tweet.
4) “I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
The psalms are prayers. Most of them were meant to be chanted or sung. They are not just holy words on a page. Take a line like this or the famous one from Psalm 23 “Though I walk in the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” and hold it in your head and heart. Pray it. Keep it. It will sustain you.
5) “Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
I don’t think it’s possible to simply stop worrying. I’ve never been able to do that. But I do think it’s possible to take a worry, something that dominates your mind and has made you afraid, and to give it to God. Our worries are often for things far off in the future. What do we actually know of the future? Not much. Make worry an opportunity for prayer. Give it up by giving it to God.