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Wisdom from the Word
“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister, called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said. 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 only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ ” (Luke 10:38-41 NIV)
I feel a deep affinity for Martha in this Biblical account.
I know she was a crazy mess, running around like a mad woman, trying to feed everyone, and muttering under her breath about how her sister wasn’t pulling her weight. But I’ve been a guest in homes where there wasn’t a Martha, and sometimes I felt like my hosts were not actually aware I was coming. Also, I felt hungry.
But that’s a post for another time.
Today, as a worrier, I hear Him say to me, “Elizabeth, Elizabeth, you are worried about many things. But I want you to choose what is better.”
What is the better way when we’re worried?
Mary showed the answer when she camped out at Jesus’ feet, drawing close to Him, giving her attention and devotion. She focused on the Logos—the Word made flesh. Until we can do the same and camp out at Jesus’ feet near His throne in heaven, we can focus on the Word.
We can affirm the truth of it. We can claim it.
How do we “claim” God’s Word and the truth it conveys? Here’s one process to try out.
Read it silently to yourself.
Read it out loud. (This really gets the enemy, by the way. He can’t read our minds, so he’s not laid low by what we think. But the Word of God spoken out loud? That’s slaying the dragon, mama.)
Write it out.
Act on it.
Act like it.
God’s Word is rich with anti-worrying tools to lead us along the better way.
And here are seven promises and precepts to start with today if tomorrow is weighing heavily on your mind and soul.
1. Joshua 3:5 (NIV).
“Then Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.’ “ When we “consecrate” ourselves, we set ourselves apart for God’s use. When the Bible talks about something or someone being holy, it means it or they are reserved, apart from the ordinary, for a special purpose. I need to dedicate myself today to be ready for what God will do with me and for me tomorrow.
2. Psalm 16:7-9 (NIV).
“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night, my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” These were my favorite exam-anxiety defense verses in college. I loved the idea that God was working on me even while I slept. And many times, in my dorm room before the test, I’d be yelling, “God is at my right hand! I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!” I also pictured Him sitting to my right during the exam, literally steadying me as I wrote. Okay, I was a total GPA-worshiping, neurotic freak. But this verse is powerful for any worry-worn situation.
Seek God and His wisdom. Check His Word for guidance. Pray about “it.” Ask faithful (and faith-full) friends for counsel. Do what you can. Then go to bed and “rest secure” and let God do His thing while you sleep.
3. Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I look at this verse as a path from worry to peace. Where worry is a window that lets angst into our hearts, peace is a guard that protects our inmost places.
4. Psalm 27:13,14 (NIV).
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” I always thought “the land of the living” referred to heaven—the place of eternal life. But recently, I learned that “the land of the living” in the original Hebrew refers to life on this earth. In spite of the sin and destruction and evil and heartbreak we experience ourselves and see around us, God is still here. He has not abandoned us. And if we wait for Him, if we are strong and “take heart,” we can confidently expect to see His goodness here and now, not just then.
5. Isaiah 43:2 (NIV).
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Whatever is worrying you is possibly—probably?—very real. I LOVE that this verse doesn’t pretend we’re never in deep waters or hot fires. When you pass and walk, God says, not if. The Great I AM knows about the floods and the flames. But He declares a couple truths here: 1)He’s with us IN them; 2)they will not consume us. They will not destroy us. With God’s help, we can and will come out on the other side.
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Sometimes—often, even—worry and fear go hand-in-hand. (Anger also gets thrown into the pot for me…when I’m worried and afraid, what that usually looks like on me is anger. But that, too, is a post for another time.
This verse reminds us that when we are afraid, we can ask God to lead us to a place higher than our fear. “Lead” is key. We do not have to find that higher rock on our own. We do not have to blindly stumble our way up to it. Instead, we can reach out to God through prayer or worship or Bible study or a chat with a faithful friend, and He will firmly take hold of our hand and pull us up to the place that is higher than we are.
7. Lamentations 3: 22, 23 (NIV).
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” This verse comforts me in my worriedness because it assures me that when I get to tomorrow, I do not have to manage what comes using today’s strength. God’s mercies are not recycled. He does not give us a set amount of mercy when we put our faith in Him and then expect us to ration it out for the rest of our lives on this earth.
Indeed, my job is not to try and guess what’s going to happen tomorrow and how I’m going to handle it; my job is to do the next thing today that I think God is calling me to do, with faith that when I get to tomorrow, new mercies for what it holds will be waiting for me from the Mercy-Giver.
A Final Thought
In addition, my mom’s favorite quote about worrying is from Corrie ten Boom: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Claim the strength God offers you in His love letter today, sweet mama. Then, expect amazing things—His security, peace, goodness, protection, leading, and mercies—tomorrow.
A regular contributor for RuthieGray.Mom, Elizabeth Spencer is a mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.