Me: I know I’m not supposed to worry, but it’s really hard not to right now. The whole world seems to be losing its collective mind. Everything is changing; everything seems to be getting worse. And the coming months could turn my whole life upside down.
HS: Yes they could.
Me: I’m not normally a big worrier, but what happens if my job goes away because the companies I work for get legislated out of existence? What happens if I can’t replace that income at my age? What happens if I can no longer afford to send my daughter to college or continue to live in my house?
HS: A lot of things could change.
Me: And they could change forever. The stakes involved in the coming election are enormous. And the fact that it’s going to occur in the middle of the virus and the racial unrest makes it feel even scarier. So many things we’re used to are either gone or at risk of going away. And they won’t come back. It’s unbelievable how much has changed in just the last six months and it’s terrifying to think what all could change in the next year or so.
HS: Change is scary. The future can be scary. Can I ask you some questions?
Me: Would it make any difference if I said ‘no’?
HS: You always have the option of not listening to me.
Me: Oh…yeah, I guess that’s true. I’ve proven that more than once, haven’t I? Yes, absolutely; ask me some questions.
HS: Who controls all the change and disruption that’s going on now? Who controls what’s going to happen in the coming months? Hint – both questions have the same answer.
Me: Okay yes, I know that. But I also know that He can allow some awfully tough things to happen to His children from time to time. I’m just not sure I’m ready for the worst of what I imagine is coming.
HS: What did Jesus say about worrying about tomorrow?
Me: In the Sermon on the Mount He said not to worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own, and besides we can’t change anything about tomorrow anyway. He also said our heavenly Father knows that we have physical needs; that He clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air, so He’ll definitely take care of His children.
HS: And what did He say you should do instead of worrying about tomorrow or your daily needs?
Me: He said we should seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We should concern ourselves with pleasing our heavenly Father. All of this is from Matthew 6 now that I think about it.
HS: And while you’re right that the Father can bring some tough times into the lives of His children, what did Paul say about those tough times?
Me: Romans 8:28 – all things work together for good to those who love God.
HS: And ‘good’ is defined how?
Me: By Romans 8:29 – becoming conformed to the image of God’s Son. So ‘good’ is synonymous with sanctification. All things work together for our sanctification.
HS: So if all things work together for your sanctification, is anything that’s coming at you in the next few months or years truly bad?
Me: I guess not ultimately…it’s still hard not to be anxious though. We’re talking about the potential loss of a way of life. And while I know I should probably be more keyed into eternity and not so concerned with my comfort and financial well-being, it’s still difficult to contemplate their removal from my life. Life is likely going to get much harder.
HS: What did James say about tough times?
Me: James 1 – rejoice in trials because of what they accomplish in us. They increase our endurance and make us more useful for the kingdom. HEY, WAIT A MINUTE! You’re bringing these verses to mind, aren’t you? You ask me questions and then make me think about the verses that answer the questions!
HS: It’s what I do.
Me: Ha! Holy smokes – this is so interesting. Oh…I guess I shouldn’t say ‘Holy’ anything in your presence, should I?
HS: You say it all the time and you’re always in my presence.
Me: Alright, back to James. He also says if we don’t have the right perspective on trials that we can ask the Father and He’ll give it to us – James 1:5.
HS: And what do you think is the right perspective on what the future might hold?
Me: That no matter what happens, it will further my sanctification and make me more useful for the kingdom.
HS: No matter what happens, it’s good. No matter what happens, it will make you more like the Son. Let me ask you another question. Which do you think you’ll value more in 1000 years; the freedom and prosperity you’re concerned about or that you became more godly as a result of their removal from your life?
Me: Point well taken. I probably won’t brag much about my old earthly comfort when I’m living on the New Earth in the presence of Jesus.
HS: One last thing to think about – what did Paul say you should do about anxiety specifically?
Me: As amazing as it sounds, Philippians 4:6-7 just came to mind. Be anxious for nothing, pray about everything, and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Prayer in the midst of anxiety brings peace that makes no sense in light of our circumstances. No matter how tough the times are, prayer can bring peace through Jesus.
HS: There’s one part of those verses you left out – I think you’re thinking about it now.
Me: ‘With thanksgiving’! We make our requests known to God with thanksgiving. Thankfulness is an antidote to anxiety.
HS: So everything that happens or is about to happen is ultimately good. It’s from the One who knows and promises to supply your needs. It’s from the One who redeemed you and loves you. Anything He takes away is for your best and it’s a best that transcends anything you can see now. And if you need help with your perspective at any time, you can pray and ask for wisdom and peace. That wisdom and peace in the midst of trials then becomes cause for thanksgiving. And the thanksgiving itself fights anxiety because it takes your focus off yourself and places it on Him. And that means you can live on the thankfulness hamster wheel: peace leads to thanksgiving which leads to peace.
Me: There really isn’t a lot of reason to worry when you put it like that, is there? Thank you for this. You’ve changed my perspective. The future doesn’t seem so scary. Everything that might happen is ultimately good, no matter what it is or how hard it is. The One who redeemed me is in charge and He’ll do whatever is necessary to make me more like Him. ALL THINGS work together for good. ALL THINGS.
HS: All things.
Me: I’ve just thought of another passage that speaks to this. Habakkuk 3:17-18, which Habakkuk wrote when he KNEW horrible things were heading his way (unlike me simply worrying about the future). Habakkuk knew the Babylonians were coming to utterly destroy his homeland and he was scared to death about it and yet he was able to say: Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. That’s pretty amazing and I’m guessing that’s the mindset you’d like me to have.
HS: It’s not a bad one to emulate.
Me: I’m not sure how long this changed perspective will last, but for now I see things differently. Thank you for bringing all this scripture to mind and changing my view.
HS: It’s what I do.