I’m fairly certain motherhood is synonymous with worry. Few things have tested and grown my faith like parenting, and with our daughter less than a year from college, my prayers are growing more frequent and fervent! Perhaps you can relate.
Today biblical fiction author Stephanie Landsem expands on a well-known but ever-needed verse. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her novel to one reader from the continental US, randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post.
But first, for those of you who are following our Call to Praise blog hop, I encourage you to join me on Carol Mclain’s as I chat about the appetite of vengeance. To follow the remaining stops on our blog hop, go here.
Victory over Worry by Stephanie Landsem
Martha let out a held breath. Judas had voiced her own thoughts. If she didn’t worry about what to eat, who would? The grain didn’t appear in the jar each morning. The bread didn’t bake itself . . . Martha stalked from the room to get the meat. It was easy for him to say to stop worrying. If he knew all she had to worry about, perhaps he would understand. (excerpt from The Tomb, A Novel of Martha)
Like Martha, many of us women—wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters—are ‘anxious and worried about many things’, and with good reasons. Our lives are complicated, our world filled with dangers, both physical and spiritual. And yet Jesus tells us to stop worrying, to choose the ‘better part’. But, as Martha asks in The Tomb, how are we supposed to stop worrying?
The dictionary defines worry as this: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts. And that is certainly what we do, isn’t it?
We start with what we know. For example, a child isn’t home yet from visiting friends and so we start with the ‘what ifs’. What if he got in an accident? What if he’s in the hospital?
Or perhaps we’ve got a health concern. Our minds go immediately to the worst: What if it’s cancer? How will I manage? What about my family, my job, my insurance coverage?
As worriers we let our minds go into all those dark places, turning them over, considering the horrors, and
soon we’re literally sick with worry.
But Jesus says in Luke chapter 12: Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27
Jesus is asking us to stop tormenting ourselves. Yes, we may have worries. About our children, our jobs, ourselves. But we can’t allow our thoughts to dwell on all the bad things that may or may not happen. When we are tempted—and it is a temptation because Satan wants us to worry—we must make a conscious decision to turn our thoughts away from the darkness and toward the light.
One way is to turn to prayer. Some of the most beautiful prayers of the Psalms are about trust and can calm our minds and soothe our fears, while keeping us from heading down that tempting dark tunnel:
Hear, O Lord, have mercy on me; Lord be my helper. Psalm 30:11
You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead and guide me. Psalm 31:4
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Or, we can repeat the most simple prayer of all: Jesus, I trust in you.
It’s not easy to stop ourselves from worrying. Sometimes we’ll fail. Sometimes we’ll give in and head down that dark tunnel. Yet, even then, Jesus will be waiting for us to come back into the light, just as he waited for Martha on the road outside Bethany, to come to him, to put her trust in him even as her brother lay dead in his tomb, and say:
“Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.
Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.
Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.
When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?
Let’s talk about this! I’m a big believer in memorizing Scripture and think doing so is one of the best ways we can counter negative thinking and center our mind and hearts in truth. Prayer is another power source given to us by Christ, and when we combine prayer with Scripture, which is praying the very Words of Christ, we’ve positioned ourselves for victory! Have you prayed Scripture before? At the end of her post, Stephanie shared some wonderful prayers from the Psalms. What are some verses you like to pray? If you haven’t prayed Scripture, why not start? It truly is a beautiful, peace-inducing way to pray! Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
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I think I inherited the worry wart syndrome from my parents and my mom in particular. It is like being a prisoner in your own mind. Thank you for this post. It’s a great reminder.
I love your wording, Sherry, “It is like being a prisoner in your own mind.” So true! And yet, through Christ, we’ve been set free! Lord, help us to truly live in that freedom! 🙂
Hey Jennifer! I enjoyed reading Stephanie’s perspective on worry. I’m thankful for the freedom our Lord has provided. 🙂
Amen to that, Carylkane! Happy almost-Resurrection Sunday! 🙂
I worry from the time I wake up till the time my head hits the pillow at night. I do pray for God to help me but it seems that he gives me more to worry about.
Tammy, I know what you mean. I have days like that, too. But if you’re praying, you’re on the right path so stay with it.
This is a great topic; I’ve had a good worry teacher and it is so hard to follow a faith teacher. I’ve heard that worrying is like meditating, and we have a choice of what to meditate on. God or vain imaginings? Sometimes my husband snaps me out of it or I catch myself before it goes into panic attacks. I have to thank God for what I do have and forget the rest. Wish I could always remember that! Thank you for the great post; I need it! And I need Jesus every hour!
Well said, Jeanie. We can choose to direct our thoughts. It’s hard, though!
Great points, Jeanie!
Your comments made me think how often, our thoughts can become habit. We can grow so accustomed to fretting over the what-ifs, that type of thinking can become our default setting. And yet, God instructs us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
I love the terminology in that verse–to take captive. It provides a visual of determined, strong force, almost like clenching a fist around that negative thought, so we can throw it out and replace it with truth, making every thought obedient to Christ. We often can’t control the thoughts that enter our brains, but we can control what we do with them. We can either work them over until they grow or we can refuse to entertain them. 🙂
I have the tendency to worry. Great reminder to let things go.
I LOVE this post! I’m a chronic worrier, even though I try so hard not to be. I actually worry that I’m worrying too much! I need to print out these Bible verses and put them where I can see them every day. Thanks for the giveaway, I can’t wait to read this book.
Thanks, Kim. Worrying about worrying — I know what you mean! And it doesn’t help much when people just say “stop worrying”, does it? I hope the verses help you 🙂
I know I worry too much! But I am working on that with God’s help and I am better than I was! Lord help me to leave things in Your Hands! With God All Things Are Possible!
Hi, Brenda, I love the hope and grace in your comment, “…with God’s help, and I am better than I was.”
I think that’s something we all need to remember. When we struggle in an area, it’s easy to grow defeated, feeling like we should’ve conquered that area already. But our spiritual growth is a process, one God is committed to. He *will* perfect that which concerns us and He who began a good work in us *will* complete it. 🙂
Perfect timing! Have been fighting worry! Another earlier comment mentioned being a worry wart-had forgotten that term,but someone called me that waaaay back in third grade! Too many years ago! But unfortunately, I still fight that! Thank you for this! Really needed it today!
I’s so sorry! Anxiety is such an uncomfortable feeling! But I’m so glad Stephanie’s post spoke to you. May God grant you victory over your worry as you draw closer to Him and fill your mind with His truth.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful post! Matthew 6:34 is a great verse that addresses worry. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Hi, Britney, that verse is so true, isn’t it? And so often, I’ve found God resolved many of things I’ve worried about beforehand. If I’d but trust Him to perfect that which concerns me and my loved ones, like Scripture promises, imagine the peace I’d have!