Last Thursday we met for the second time to discuss Finding the Rest of My Faith. There were just three of us again, which turned out to be a perfect group for digging into last week’s questions, which you can find at the bottom of the Week 1: Summary HERE.
This week I want to focus on one of the words from our discussion. WORRY.
This word came up when we talked about what steals our rest or what the opposite of rest was for us. I’m sure there isn’t a woman alive who won’t admit to occasionally feeling worried or anxious, in spite of the pretty direct instructions NOT to do so. Here are some of the passages that I’ve found that contained the words, worry, anxiety, or cares. In the New Testament, the word used is often MERIMNAO–or a derivative of it. (I’ve added italics and bolded text in places.)
Matthew 6:25-31 (NIV)
Do Not Worry
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
Even though that one is relatively clear, apparently God foreknew our total stubbornness when it comes to carrying our own burdens, so He repeats this a few times for clarity.
Mark 4:18-19 (NIV)
18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Ah yes, worry, greed, and envy all rolled up together in one giant ball of restlessness. How many of us are lacking in rest because we live lives of comparison and discontenment?
Luke 10:40-42 (NIV)
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Much has been written comparing Martha to Mary and asking us to decide which one of the two we are; however, I think most of us are actually a bit of both. One minute we are happily sitting at Jesus’ feet, but the next, we are bounding up, anxious to soothe our OCD with some activity. How do we just CHOOSE TO REST?
Luke 21:34 (NIV)
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.
This passage really convicts me because, even though I don’t spend much time in carousing and drunkenness, the anxieties of life do sometimes feel like they are trapping me. It’s easy for us to condemn certain party lifestyles or behaviors, but how pervasive is the lifestyle of anxious living that we assume is unavoidable? How many of us describe ourselves as “worriers” as though this were some inescapable fate or destiny, like an addiction we were born into? We are NOT meant to live this way! Here’s the prescription.
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And while we are at it . . . .
1 Peter 5:7-8 (NIV)
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Easier said than done, right? I mean, all this casting of care and flinging up of thanksgiving sounds very cheery and carefree. Oh WAIT. CARE-FREE.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
See, relaxing and being complacent isn’t the solution to anxiety. (Note to self: this means self-medication with binge watching of Netflix TV). Because then we can easily get sucked back into greed, envy, discontent, and the vortex that is anxious living. That is the deliciously, evil place that Satan wants to keep us. We become the ineffective, whiny, worrying, exhausted Christian girls whose lives look NO DIFFERENT than those who don’t know Jesus. We are meant to be ALERT. WATCHFUL. CAUTIOUS. GUARDED. (Those are synonyms for WARY–just in case you wondered.)
As for what is meant to guard us . . . . .well let’s revisit what happens after all the do not worrying, and praying, petitioning, and giving thanks from Philippians 4:6. Philippians 4: 7 And the peace of Christ which transcends all understanding WILL GUARD your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
BOOM! It might just be too cliche to say BOOM, but I had to do it. Because MINDBLOWING PEACE (that is what transcends all understanding means) keeping guard over my heart and mind sounds like a good thing.
SO, for this week, I want to talk about characters in the Bible who had worries, cares, and burdens that God managed for them. I figure this will be comforting, right?
Here are a few anxieties that I thought we could investigate.
- Esther (mass genocide enacted by spouse, racism)
- Job (unemployment, death, illness, devastation, and nagging wife)
- Ruth (widowhood, poverty, isolation)
- Jonah (ministry/calling, being swallowed-literally, frustration with God)
So I thought that those would be a good start AND they all have their own books. Pick one or two on the list above–or another Biblical character with whom you identify and read the story. Pay attention to the following.
1. What’s the problem? Anxiety? Burden? Care?
2. What does the character do about it?
3. What does God do or NOT do as the case may be?
4. Does God do what the person asks? Explain.
5. What does this teach you about God and you and your relationship?
If you don’t get a chance to complete one before Thursday, we’ll split up and do it then together.