Will You Worry, Or Will You Remember?

Will You Worry, Or Will You Remember?

As you lay in your bed at night, maybe you feel a sharp, persistent pain in your chest that will not leave. Or perhaps it is a sunken feeling in your stomach that feels like you swallowed a golf ball.  For another person, it might be an inability to click the off-switch on your thoughts.  Like waves, one thought continually crashes over the other until, eventually, it feels like you’re drowning in an ocean of thoughts that you cannot escape. Still, for another, the opposite may be true. Instead of a flood of thoughts, there is an obsession or a constant preoccupation with a single thought.  Whatever it feels like for you, we have all felt it. It’s worry. It is one of many things that God warns us against, and yet, countless people still wrestle with this feeling on a daily basis.

For me, worrying was a way of life. In the morning, I would lie awake in bed and work myself up over all that I had to do that day.  As I dwelled on the what-ifs, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as it beat faster and faster.  What if I fail? What if the money never comes in? What if I drop the ball? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not as intelligent as they say I am? What if my child gets sick? The shackles of worry became so familiar to me that I did not realize I was bound by them.  I had no concept of life without worry. As a result, I became dependent on my worry and anxiety, and I stopped depending on God. I relied on my endurance to overcome each day. I trusted my intelligence and my accomplishments to assure me of my future. I put my hope in measurable and calculated outcomes that I analyzed over and over in my mind.  Slowly, my faith began to dwindle.  Deep down, my heart was satisfied with wallowing in worry, and I started to think that God had left me stranded.

My story, and so many others, remind me of how God’s chosen people lost their faith even though God redeemed them from hundreds of years of oppression and slavery.  When the Israelites were challenged by difficult circumstances, they worried and they complained. Their immediate reaction to trouble was not to trust God—instead they trusted their worries.  When the Egyptians chased after them, they worried that they would die at the hand of their oppressors (Exodus 14:10-12).  Two months after they escaped Egypt, they came to a wilderness and the waves of worry came crashing down on them again (Exodus 16:1-3).  There was probably no food or water in sight and they all thought, what if we die out here? They complained to Moses and Aaron saying “You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel.” (Exodus 16:3 The Message). Like me, they became so comfortable in their fear and worry that they thought God had left them stranded to die.

Yet, it was not too long before that moment in the wilderness that God instructed his people to remember their redemption through the celebration of the Passover meal.  Could it be that God instituted Passover because He knew the Israelites would succumb to their worries?  Could it be that God knew that their worries would chip away at their faith, so He gave them a strategy to rebuild it?  For the Israelites, Passover was their wake-up call. It was a reminder of God’s redemptive power, and if God could free them from slavery, He could save them from anything.

 So, why worry? One could only speculate, what if the Israelites’ story would have unfolded differently? If they had clung to the story of their redemption instead of worrying, maybe they would not have crafted a powerless god made of gold.  If they had remembered the day they were set free, maybe they would have mustered up enough faith to escape their worrying in the wilderness. If they had only remembered the meaning of their Passover meal, and the freedom that it represented, perhaps we would be reading a different story today.

Our story, however, is not finished.  Every single day, when life’s troubles seem to be closing in on us, we have to make a choice—will we worry or will we remember?  As we reflect on the Passover story and its representation of freedom, we should also remember our own redemption stories.  I remember mine quite well.  When I was a little girl, my parents thought I was going to die.  After a severe allergic reaction, I laid on my parent’s bed in my childhood home, breathless.  As my father administered CPR he cried out to God in his heart.  He began to make plans for funeral arrangements and he thanked God for the six years that he spent with me.  And then, as he retells the story to me, he heard a gentle voice affirmatively tell him that I was not going to die.  Seconds later, I coughed—and then I took a breath.  In my adulthood, I now often recall the day that God saved my life.  I really mostly recall waking up in the hospital, because I was unconscious during the most severe moments of the allergic reaction.  And when I awoke, I saw my mother and father by my side and they said to me, “You almost died.”  When I think about that moment in time, it reminds me that God saved me, and my worries slowly begin to disintegrate.  The pain in my chest goes away, and the waves of anxious thoughts transform into still waters of peace and clarity.  Thinking back on my day of redemption freed me, and the freedom from worrying was in the remembering.  Remember your day of redemption.  Remember the day that God freed you. Remember the day He rescued you.  Remember, and watch as your worries melt away into triviality.

           

The Right Day for Prayer-A Devotional

The Right Day for Prayer-A Devotional

Pentecost is only a few weeks away, and for many of us living through the pandemic we have lost track of important days. Amid negative news, racial unrest, and daily frustrations, there is more than enough reason for prayer. Today is the National Day of Prayer, but it is not on a lot of people’s calendars this year. The National Day of Prayer was instituted in 1952 by President Harry Truman and has continued for the past 69 years with various presidents, congress people, and other officials observing it each year. There is a non-profit organization called the National Day of Prayer Task Force that coordinates events surrounding the day with particular themes and bringing some unity to Christians observing the day.  No matter the theme or who recognizes it, whether official or informal, it is always a good time to pray. 

We all face challenges and we are always in need of God’s peace. It is enough to worry about what is going on in our homes, our classrooms, and our communities without having the constant worry of the world we are aware of through social media. Especially as black believers living in this moment, we are carrying more questions than answers. The world as we know it has been turned upside down, and not in a good way. Many of us are struggling to redefine our faith and feel connected to God and other people we haven’t felt present with in a long time.

Psalm 35:6 encourages everyone who is godly to pray at the acceptable time. The Apostle Paul encourages believers to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Jesus tells His disciples a parable in Luke 18:1 to teach them to always pray and never give up. 

Philippians 4:6-7 is one of the most well known passages about prayer in the Bible. Paul says:

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

This verse in Philippians reminds us that when we pray, the peace we will experience surpasses our understanding! It is peace that we feel, that we can rest in when nothing else makes sense.

I remember the days after my grandfather died of COVID were filled with worry, anger, sadness and frustration. There were so many barriers to getting answers, making arrangements, honoring the life of a man whose legacy I am living. When I realized I was doing worse than I expected I got a phone call from a friend. He had no idea what I was going through but asked could he pray for me. When he finished praying I felt the weight of the world lift from me. I couldn’t explain it, because I had just received peace that exceeded my understanding.

That same peace is available for all of us when we pray, and when we receive prayer from others. Take some time today to pray for yourself. Acknowledge something you are worrying about to God, He cares about all that concerns us. Then pray for someone else. Pray that God will meet them with His perfect peace. Reflect on the fact that today, you are praying alongside millions of Christians across the country. And may the peace of Christ will meet you in a way you do not have to fully understand to fully receive.  

Greatest Hits of Faith and Prayer from ’09

As we move forward into a new decade, we are thankful for God’s provision in 2009 and the hope that He gives us for 2010. In addition to the usual resolutions (South Beach Diet, anyone?), it’s time to refocus and recommit ourselves to lives of prayer and devotion — and UrbanFaith is here to help! Check out these top UF articles on prayer, faith, and spiritual renewal from ’09, and join us in getting prayed up for the New Year!

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