Sometimes There ARE Monsters Under the Bed (Part III in the Worry series)

Sometimes there are monsters under the bed. Or in the mailbox. Or dating our children. Or driving in the opposite lane. Or attached to our final paycheck. Or lurking within our bloodstreams, our organs, our cells.

Many of our worries are baseless but some aren’t. Bad things happen to God’s people every day and to the children and grandchildren of God’s people.

Which is what makes these commands not to worry or to fret even more challenging –sometimes insulting – often preposterous and unthinkable!

But God’s people are called to do what is challenging, preposterous and unthinkable every day. And often we are called to practice that which insults us the most – to deny ourselves and hand our lives over again to the God of who claims us as His own.

In considering and praying about worry this week-end, I started to think about categories of concern, wondering if they should be handled differently.

There is the habit of worrying about things that “might” happen long before there is need. For example, worrying that my ten- year- old will someday grow up and be in a car accident. That seems like something we could easily turn over the Lord.

But then there is the fear that accompanies our teen’s first solo drive after they’ve received their driver’s training, lessons, practice and test. Again, it’s a concern but something I can see we should turn over to the Lord.

But what about when we know our child is driving home on New Year’s Eve with a road full of drunk drivers during a blizzard? Or what about when we know our child is driving when he or she is too tired or has had several accidents in the past? Or what about when we know that our adult child has a car that is questionably safe? Or what if they’ve actually been in a car accident and are hospitalized with serious injuries and we don’t know if they will survive or recover completely? Is it OK to worry then?

As I explored these different “states of worry” from imagined scenarios to legitimate concerns, it all still came back to the fact that worrying, fretting, and yielding to anxiety or fear, while sometimes understandable activities, are still useless at affecting change or managing stress.

The definition of worry is:
–verb (used without object)
1.
to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.
–verb (used with object)
3.
to torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague.

Man, none of that sounds like something we should be doing to ourselves, does it? Tormenting one’s self with disturbing thoughts? Hardly seems like a wise or healthy activity and when things are bad, engaging in worry just seems like adding wrong on top of wrong – like panicking in a fire.

Synonyms of worry include: afflict, aggrieve, agonize, ail, annoy, attack, bedevil, beleaguer, beset, bite one’s nails, bother, brood, bug*, chafe, concern oneself, depress, despair, disquiet, distress, disturb, dun, feel uneasy, fret, gnaw at, go for, goad, harass, harry, hassle, have qualms, hector, importune, irritate, needle, oppress, persecute, perturb, pester, plague, stew, sweat out, take on, tantalize, tear, tease, test, torment, torture, trouble, try, unsettle, upset, vex, wince, writhe, wrong

Again, nothing in that list sounds like an activity for which we should volunteer.

But, we doevery day.

So, then the everyday part got my attention. I’ve been studying the Old Testament with our high school Sunday school class and covered, not too long ago, the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites when they had to rely on the Lord for daily provision of food and water in the desert and I thought about manna.

Maybe, peace of mind is like manna.

As a middle-aged American, living in today’s culture and economy with one teen, one college student, parents who are getting older, three jobs between my husband and me, him with a serious illness and close relatives who are out of work, it’s no exaggeration to say that there is something serious to deal with every single day. On any given morning, my mind can easily flood with a list of concerns between the time my alarm goes off and my hand hits the button.

So, I reach for the peace of mind I had the day before and find it’s depleted. Or, discover the supply I had yesterday will never cover the new concerns for today. As if my peace of mind grows stale and moldy if I try to save up and utilize yesterday’s supply. As if, God wants me to come to Him every day for peace of mind. As if He wants me to rely on Him every moment and turn to Him with every little thing. As if peace of mind is like manna in the wilderness.

Oh.

Deuteronomy 2: 3-4 says: “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years; to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

So, I come full circle to God’s word. God’s word is my weapon in this fight against worry. God’s word is truer than the truth of the circumstances in my life. God’s word is the reality with which I should connect every moment of every day. Through God’s word I know His mind and learn who He is and deepen my trust in His character, His provision, His ways.

I have a sword hanging on my living room wall. For me, it’s a decoration but at one time, it was a weapon. Sometimes that’s what we do to God’s word – we hang it on the wall for decoration like some ancient relic and we forget that it is a powerful weapon. (Or have you forgotten the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark?)

So, worry may be an enemy that shows up on my doorstep every day – like Cato Fong, the Pink Panther’s crazy manservant who would attack him at random to keep Inspector Clouseau’s fighting abilities sharpened and at the ready. That reminds me of God’s warning to Cain in Genesis 4:7 “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

So the temptation to worry is the ring of my soul’s alarm clock that this is not the time to sleep but to be alert, in prayer and ready with God’s word. The very weapon Satan would use for my downfall, God can use to draw me closer to Him day-by-day, moment-by-moment. (Ha! Foiled again!)

Ain’t nothing easy about this battle but nothing is impossible with God. God does a gazillion impossible things before we wake up each day just as a warm-up!

The next time worry looms up before you, don’t lie down and let it steamroll over you, baby. Stand and fight. You are well-armed.

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Kathy Black says:

    Hi Lori. A good friend once reminded me that worry is a way that my mind tries to grasp for control over the uncontrollable. I have found this very helpful. As you mentioned, time in prayer and meditation is the key.

  2. Nice to have you drop by, Kathy. I like what your friend had to share. Thanks for bringing it my way!

  3. Heather says:

    Lori, I like your comparison to the Manna – we need help each day to ease our mind about today’s worry. It ties in with what Jesus said (paraphrasing), “Don’t worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

  4. Thanks, Heather. I was thinking a lot about that verse. I wish I could save up peace but it doesn’t seem to work like that.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You have really hit the nail on the head with this one. Everyone has this lurking in their closet. MB

  6. Thanks, MB! Maybe it’s time to clean them out! 🙂

  7. Andrea says:

    AMEN…”nothing is impossible with GOD!”
    Blessings, andrea

  8. You know it, Andrea. Although I still have to develop a love of riding along while He does the impossible!

  9. Cheri says:

    Oh, Lori, this post was so good! I love the comparison of peace and manna. And though I know that the weapon I have to weald against worry is God’s word, why am I so often remiss in using it?

    Great post,
    Cheri