On Worry

Confession: I am a worrier.

In our culture today, worrying has become a relatively minor sin, or, as Jerry Bridges would call it, a “respectable sin”.  Saying, “I am a worrier” sounds less offensive than, “I am a cheater” or, “I am a liar.” “Everyone worries” is a common argument.  In fact, many people (Christians or otherwise) would not consider worrying to be a sin at all. The truth is that worrying belittles God.  Essentially, it is saying to God that we do not trust Him to take care of our future and that we do not believe him to be enough for our present.

As I go about my days, I regularly ask “what if” questions.  What if the phone rings and my husband has had a seizure or stroke?  What if a loved one passes away? What if my newborn only sleeps for three hours tonight?  What if my two-year-old is a royal terror at bedtime again and exhausts every last ounce of my patience?  What if everything comes crashing down at work? What if, what if, what if…

Any and all of those things (and worse!) could happen.  Chances are indeed very good that my newborn won’t sleep tonight and that, at some point today, my daughter will act like the toddler that she is.  But worrying about them steals my joy for this present moment. I cannot be fully where I am because I am too apprehensive about where I am not. I cannot be thankful for the gifts that He has given because I am distressed about what He might take away.  In difficult times in the past, God has always shown himself to be faithful and good. Always. Still, I find myself fearing that perhaps, this time, his grace will not be sufficient.

God does not dispense grace for next year, next week, or even tomorrow, right now.  “His mercies are new every morning,” so He gives exactly what we need for today. I am reminded of the Israelites in Exodus 16, when God promised to rain down food (“manna”) from heaven, precisely the amount that was required for each day.  The Lord told his people to go out and collect the manna in the morning and not to save any extra, lest it would stink and become infested with maggots. Some Israelites tried to stockpile their daily bread, fearing that God would forget them the following morning, only to find that the manna did rot, just as He had told them it would.

I, too, frequently suppose that I need to “stockpile” God’s grace out of concern that it will not be new in the morning.  And yet, it is! Today, the sun rose, by His command. Out of his goodness, He filled my lungs with air and opened my eyes to behold His glory.  He gifted me with feet to run another day, with a brain that functions properly. Because He loves me, He gave me hot water in my shower and put breakfast on my plate.  My precious family all woke up healthy at dawn because He preserved them throughout the night. These gifts, His graces to me, are abundant, but I regularly choose to squander the joy that they bring because my head is stuck in a cloud of worry.

There may come a day, as it did for Job, when God chooses to take away all that I find dear on this earth.  Everything I’ve ever worried about could come true. The phone call may come, the job may be lost, the money may run out, my body may quit working, or the loved one may pass away.  If and when that time comes, God will not give “manna”; instead, He will give Himself. The creator and sustainer of the universe, the God who knows my name, the Savior who has numbered each star in the sky and the very hairs on my head, the One who does not let even a sparrow fall- this Jesus has promised that He will be all I ever need.  His grace is enough for today.

Doug Serven