July 8, 2017

Bad news > worry – Prayer > peace!

I tell myself that this new habit of reading news headlines on my computer before shutting it down for the night is because I want to pray for the people involved in all sorts of tragic events. However, it could be morbid curiosity. I usually fall asleep too quickly to do much praying. Besides, I detect a bit of Pharisaical self-righteousness in myself as I read about the horrid things people do that I would never do. Really?

Some news stories are truly frightening, like the riots in Germany over the G20 meetings, or the one last night about the person who tried to open an airplane door during a flight from a western USA city. We have flown out of that airport and on that airline. Worry and ‘what if’ are bad for sleeping well.

This morning, I expected a rebuke from God for my self-righteousness, but He is kind. Instead of addressing that bad attitude, He spoke to me about the knots most news stories put in my stomach . . .

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” (Psalm 37:1–6)

Yesterday my husband said Psalm 37 is the best Psalm in the Bible. Today, I can say it was a perfect reading because these first six verses put scary headlines into perspective.

They also remind me of two New Testament passages about anxiety. The first has been a reliable way of life for me, right from the day God brought me into His family. I had little income and welcomed these verses of assurance. God would take care of me. My part has been to focus on His kingdom and His righteousness . . .

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25–33)

God takes care of my physical needs in many amazing ways.  

The other passage is about those inner needs, like not being afraid, having peace, knowing His blessing on my inner life just as He takes care of my closet and pantry . . .

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5–7)

I’m to be a gracious person and there is good motivation for that; God is right here with me, even in those anxious moments when life seems overwhelming. Instead of worrying or letting stress get the best of me, I’m to pray. This includes asking Him to take care of things, but also being thankful rather than continually focusing on what is wrong, what I don’t have, and all the other negatives that happen in life (and in the news). When I do that, He pours His indescribable peace into my heart and mind, a peace that overrides circumstances and often makes no sense.

Last week we told a Christian friend that one of our family members is moving from South Korea to Sweden. The friend said, “Will you worry about her less in that place than the other one?”

She is a serious worrier and this was a serious question. My response was open-mouthed surprise. All I could think of was, “We don’t worry about her.” I should have reminded her what she already knew, that we pray often for our family. As Philippians says, worry makes no sense when God offers peace.

I’m not to let life, and the news about life, get the best of me. God is in sovereign control and will work out His plans, not only for my life, but for everyone on the planet. He does it for family; why not everyone else?

Jesus, it occurs to me that if I pray about the news while still at the keyboard, I’m less likely to doze off in a state of anxiety over those awful headlines. I know You want me to pray without ceasing, and pray about everything — with thanksgiving — and am grateful for Your gentle reminder that being anxious is not part of Your plan for my life! Instead, You provide incredible peace as I bring all my worries to You.

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