There have been a few times when I’ve felt that God has been pulling me up by the bootstraps and telling me he has everything under control and worrying about things isn’t actually a productive or helpful use of my time or energy.
That hasn’t always been an easy message to receive, but sometimes God provides a clear example of how his peace, grace, and love are given in abundance and eases our sometimes-troubled hearts and minds.
Like the time when James reached a hat-trick that we had really hoped he would avoid. Having been diagnosed aged two with autism and a learning disability, he was given a third diagnosis when he was fifteen—epilepsy.
Now it would be remarkable if this hadn’t worried us, caused us to be even more concerned about James, how this might affect him, what the future might bring. But in the storm, we sensed God—his peace was with us, his presence strengthened us, his word spoke to us.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“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.” Romans 8:28
That evening, as I was ordering anti-suffocation epilepsy pillows, thinking about different types of room monitors, mentally assessing whether there were any hazards in James bedroom or his den, worry started to creep up on me again. But God got there first.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
I woke in the night… had I heard a noise? Was James OK? I lay listening to the quietness of the house and as I berated myself for being over anxious, once again God’s peace was there. He didn’t berate me, his presence comforted and relaxed me. He’s got this, it’s in his good hands, he’s my good, good father.
“When my anxious inner thoughts become overwhelming, your comfort encourages me.” Psalm 94:19
Now not worrying is not the same as not caring. Of course we care greatly for James, we love him dearly and want the very best for him. But does lying awake at night worrying about his epilepsy make it go away? Does it help us to help him? Does it make any positive difference at all? No. All it does is make us tired, anxious, stressed, and less able to care effectively for him. In every way, worry is counterproductive.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Not worrying isn’t easy, but if we trust in God to help us, he will. By seeing him working in us and through us, we can receive his peace, his comfort, his rest; and that will help us to be much more effective in care for James than any amount of worrying will! Just like the journey we’ve been on since James was two and received his first diagnoses, God will use our experiences to strengthen us and to equip us to help others this time too.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We choose to act on the key words of the two passages above… “Come…” “Learn…” “Trust…” “Submit…”. And in coming to God, and him coming to meet us, with trust in our hearts, learning from him and submitting to his will, what is there really to worry about?
God bless, Mark