If worry is not mastered, it will master you.
Winston Churchill once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” A Swedish proverb says, “Worry often gives small things a big shadow.” Seems as though every time I stop at a coffee shop to catch up on my email, I find myself a bit concerned as I open my laptop that my personal information will be hacked. It’s enough to make a body worry constantly.
Not long ago I had the extraordinary privilege of spending some time with the chaplain of the United States Senate Ret. Rear Admiral Barry C. Black in his Capitol hill office. We had a wonderful conversation about his job and his journey to where God has placed him in ministry. We spoke of past Senate Chaplains such as Peter Marshall and Lloyd John Ogilvie whose prayers were so very timely and effective. At the end of our time together, however, Chaplain Black said in his very deep baritone voice, “Pastor Tim, allow me to pray over you” and pray he did!
As he concluded his prayer for me, he began to quote the words of Paul in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Ephesian church where he said, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
First, allow me to say, in the face of whatever is before you at this moment in your life… God is able! According to the Bureau of Standards in Washington, a dense fog covering seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet is composed of less than one glass of water. That amount of water is divided into about 60 billion tiny droplets. Yet when those minute particles settle over a city or the countryside, they can almost blot out everything from your sight. Many today live their lives in a fog. They allow a cupful of troubles to cloud their vision and dampen their spirit. Anxiety, turmoil and defeat strangle their thoughts. Their lives are being “choked by the cares of this world” Friend, regardless of what is before you right now, God is able to help!
Second, in the face whatever is happening in the nation or the world for that matter… God is able! Dr. E. Stanley Jones once said, “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.” A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.” But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.”
Last, In the face of whatever you have experienced in your past or whatever you face tomorrow… God is able! From the writings of Dr. Orlando L. Tibbetts, The Spiritual Journey of J. C. Penney, we learn that young James Cash Penney made some unwise commitments and became very depressed. He worried so much that he developed shingles. He went to see his doctor who admitted him to the hospital, but his condition became worse. One night he was prescribed a sedative that quickly wore off, and he awoke believing that he would die that night. He wrote letters to his family and fell asleep. He woke up the next morning and was surprised that he was still alive. He heard people singing “God Will Take Care of You” in the chapel and went in. He listened to the singing and message with a heavy heart, but then something happened. He later said, “I realized then that I alone was responsible for my troubles. I knew that God with His love was there to help me.” He said that from that day forward his life was free of worry, and it was all because he realized that God would take care of him. With great confidence, I say to you today, this same God will take care of you as well!
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.