Encouragement From The Word

Why worry?

Are you a worrier?

One of the strange little things I remember from my childhood is the “worry stone”.  It was a piece of polished white stone that had a concave indentation in it, that, I was told, one could rub one’s thumb in as a means of passing the time while worrying.  (And Protestants complained about prayer beads?!)  I’m sure it was just a gimmick someone created to make money selling to people who easily give in at knick-knack stores, but the fact that people bought these things suggests to me that worry may be a bigger part of life than we care to admit.

It always astounds me when I find people who love and serve Jesus who also worry.  Jesus himself told us that worrying wouldn’t add a single day to our lives, or a single cubit to our height (depending on the translation you read).  He was right.  I’ve never seen anything significant accomplished through worry.

But what do we do instead?  After all, if I tell someone not to worry, what is that person going to do in place of worry?  King David had some good advice:  “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34.4, NLT).

We are disinclined to unleash our burdens entirely.  We can give our concerns to the Lord, and then almost immediately take them back…as if God can’t handle them.  Cognitively, we know he can, but practically, we think we need to deal with them on our own.  But when we give our concerns to God, we can leave them in his care, and not worry one bit.

The Canadian hymn writer, Joseph Scriven, had the idea right when he wrote

Have we trials and temptations?  Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged: take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness: take it to the Lord in prayer.

There is a better way to deal with concerns than to worry.  Give them to the Lord.

Encouragement From The Word will return on July 7.

Encouragement From The Word

He’s got the whole world in his hands…right?!

The political tension that exists in the Ukraine these days reminds us that the world is not exempt from turmoil that results from everything from greed to InHisHands5political or religious differences. For a while – in the west – it seemed that we had been experiencing relative peace.

Times like this are good times to remember the truth of the old children’s song: “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” We teach kids this little ditty and get them clapping, but do we honestly believe it’s true? Do we believe that God has the whole world in his hands?

Many people find it hard to believe. They look at the world around them and see war and injustice, and they think it would hardly be possible for God to have the world in hand when there is so much going on that would not please God. But does that mean God is not caring for the world?

We do not always understand God’s plans for the world, or for us. The divine mind is infinitely greater than we can grasp or imagine, so God’s plans for the world, likewise, are beyond our understanding. Not that God’s plans would include war or injustice; but can we believe that whatever human freedom exists can be leveraged for God’s greater purpose?

You and I see things going on in the world that anger us, frustrate us, even scare us, if we’re honest. But in the midst of that, can we trust – trust – that God has the whole world in his hands? That God cares infinitely more than we can grasp or imagine?

It can be challenging to let God be God and trust him with the world’s turmoil. Of course, God invites us to work for justice so that his world can more closely reflect his heavenly Kingdom. But if we can, in faith, say, “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” and trust God for the present and the future, that will free up any preoccupied space in our minds to reflect on how we can serve to make the world a place that shows forth God’s reign and realm.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation” (Psalm 145.8-9, NLT).