My kids start school next week, and I don’t know about you, but I am already feeling tired. Coming off a year for the record books—we all know what I mean by that—and running full speed into a summer where we were actually able to see friends and family, play sports, take vacations, and more has me ready for a long nap.
We’ve probably all learned a lesson about intentionality the last eighteen months or so. As the world of news networks speculates what might happen next, I have had to be really intentional about telling myself to stop and take a deep breath. I don’t want to wrap up a really good, albeit busy summer by getting overwhelmed by all of the unknowns. Intentionality is more than just how we serve and spend time with other people; it’s also about turning our eyes to the One who has everything under control even when it looks and/or feels like it’s all falling apart.
One way we can be intentional about not succumbing to fear is by taking our thoughts captive. Second Corinthians 10 says we are to “demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Now obviously, this has a lot of application points. We take our thoughts captive when sin beckons—pride, unrighteous anger, envy, and more. But we also take our fearful thoughts captive—those thoughts that run “against the knowledge of God.” The knowledge of God points us straight back into Scripture—the sword with which we wage our battles.
Because God’s mercy is infinite and His truth timeless, He made it clear we don’t have to be burdened with worry.
“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you — you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34
I am guilty of getting a case of the “what ifs?” What if my child gets hurt playing this sport? What if my spouse gets sick? What if I lose my job? What if something bad happens? The answer, as much as none of us want to hear it, is that those things might indeed occur. Bad things happen. We aren’t promised a life without suffering. But we have to remind ourselves that even if [insert fear] does happen, we have a Savior who has made unbreakable promises to His people. He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He promises that despite our suffering, we can be courageous for He has conquered the world (John 16:33). He didn’t ascend to heaven for us to wage war in this life on our own, but promised us a Helper in the way of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16).
Admitting out loud to God that we are struggling to trust Him is OK. In fact, God knows that we struggle with that. Again, in His goodness, He gives us knowledge of Himself by being kind enough to include a story in Mark 9 about a father who begs for healing for his child, saying, “… if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus’s response in Mark 9:23 is, “If you can? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” The father of the sick child responds by crying out, “I do believe. Help my unbelief!”
Crying out to God for anything, even for more faith to believe, is an acknowledgement that He is God and we are not. Lord, we can’t but You can. God, I am not big enough to overcome this fear, struggle, sin, or unbelief, but You are. I would argue that these cries are a form of worship. Acknowledging God for all that He is and is capable of brings Him glory.
So if you’re like me and the end of this summer’s looming headlines are making some of that fear bubble to the surface of your mind and heart, or if you know a loved one who is struggling, would you join me in praying the following for all of us?
Father, You are good. You have provided not only a way for us to be reconciled to You and be in Your presence forever by faith in Your Son and His accomplishment on the cross, but you also give us Your Word which is the only truth we need. Thank you. Father, there are lots of times when our faith wavers. We aren’t proud but acknowledge to You this weakness of our flesh. We are so grateful for the compassion You have on us and to be able to cry out to you to help our unbelief. Father, in the coming days, please help us take our thoughts captive. Please make Your peace tangible to us and to those we love. May the result be evident to those who don’t yet know You, Lord, and therefore, draw them nearer to You. Lord, to You be all the glory. Amen.