March 25, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Rachel and I appreciate your partnership in prayer each Wednesday for our prodigals and for revival. I cannot help but believe that God is using these stressful times of worldwide concern to stir and draw hearts into the warmth of His love.
We all have questions: How long with this COVID-19 virus continue to disrupt our lives? How severe will it get before it’s all over? Will the economy fail completely? Will I lose my job, my house, my health? When will we be able to meet as Christians again in church capacity? Will life ever be the same again? These are valid questions that have been on my mind lately. They are questions that tend to cause the fear-barometer to spike! Unless...Unless what? Unless we are allowing the peace of God to flood and fill our hearts and minds.
As Christians, we have a unique perspective that is both real and precious in times of difficulty. Listen to Paul’s words directed first to the believers in Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phil.4:6-7 NLT). It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not! In fact, it is contrary to our natures and goes against every fiber of our being.
First I want you to understand that there is a difference between genuine concern and worry. As elders, as parents, and as individuals there are legitimate concerns for the welfare of those in our realm of responsibility, but worry is different. Worry is essentially a control issue. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. We can’t control the government, so we worry about the decisions they make. We can’t control our church family, so we worry about them. We can’t control the day of our death, so we worry about the future. But worry never solves anything!
Gary E Gilley sums up the difference like this:
Worry is allowing problems and distress to come between us and the heart of God. It is the view that God has somehow lost control of the situation and we cannot trust Him. A legitimate concern presses us closer to the heart of God and causes us to lean and trust on Him all the more.
Our English word "worry" comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to strangle, to choke." It was used to refer to the practice of wolves killing sheep by biting them around the neck, thus strangling their prey to death. There is nothing like worry to totally sap your energy and usefulness for God. Another old English meaning is “to gnaw.” Like a dog gnawing on a bone. You might hear someone says, “That problem has been gnawing at me all week!” Worry has the ability to slowly eat away at any joyful or faith-filled living. We can’t let this happen!
The Greek word in our verse is merimnao (mer-im-nah-o), and is derived from the root word meaning "to divide the mind.” It is the word Jesus used when He said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious, you are worried and trouble about many things.” What is Jesus saying? “Martha, your mind has been divided and distracted by the seemingly unfair circumstances; by the hurtful wrong actions of your sister; by the lies that God doesn’t know or care about what is happening to me.” Her mind was in turmoil and unrest. This is worry.
How do we combat these strangling, gnawing, anxious effects in our lives? Notice again what the Bible says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” Bring God into the mix of your life. Talk to God, bring your problems to Him, again and again, and again…and be thankful over what He has done. Thankfulness and worry have trouble coexisting in the same space.
What is the effect of bringing God into the confusion of our lives? Look again, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Resting in God will allow you to experience His peace, and it will put up large walls of protection against satanic attacks.
Don't let worry get a stranglehold. Trust in God and rest in Him.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel