Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. Isaiah 43:1-3
God's promises are amazing. And when we have faced dark trials, such as the illness and death of our firstborn, or the critical illness of our second son, these verses among many others sustained us incredibly. We know God is sovereign. He makes no mistakes. He can bring good and glory out of the darkest times, and indeed out of that darkness, His light shines even more brightly. Even our own lives are described as having 'treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us' 2 Cor 4:7
But there are times when we are not facing a major trial. There are days, weeks and months where life ticks along. There are beautiful moments, exciting interludes and times of peace. But there are also times of fatigue, of minor ailments, of discouragement, of loneliness, of not being able to see the bigger picture because of the massive list of tasks that need to be accomplished by the end of the day. Nothing major. Nothing to write home about in a prayer letter. Nothing that even really needs to be talked about. Just life. I imagine you know what I mean.
I struggle more in those times. Lately, I've felt anxious. Non-specifically anxious - there is nothing I can blame, no particular challenge or deadline, nobody is sick, there is no relational conflict and the country where we live is currently stable. And yet I have felt uneasy. Some of it relates to a feeling that I should be doing something else, or that I have forgotten something, or I am dabbling in too many things and not really doing any of them as well as I would like. Some of it is harder to explain - possibly relating to the fact that parenting doesn't have a clear to-do list that can be cleared by the end of the day, and because we don't see the true effects of the decisions and priorities we have now.
Whilst the Bible has promises we can 'claim' or hold onto for the darkest trials and the most severe difficulties, does it have much to say about my current situation? Of course it does! 'For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart'. Hebrews 4:12
What are these thoughts and attitudes? Firstly, I need to understand who God is, and how as a loving Father, He relates to us. John was able to write, 'There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love' 1 John 4:18 Sometimes I do feel that way - as though I am not doing enough somehow.
In Romans, we are taught, 'everything that does not come from faith is sin' Romans 14:23. By harbouring anxious thoughts, I am somehow not trusting God in the small aspects of my life. I am not trusting that God knows. I am not trusting that God can use the day-to-day grind of life for His glory. I am not trusting that God is building my character through the need to faithfully work at raising the family without necessarily seeing progress, not receiving any praise or acknowledgement from men (the way you might for an academic success, or an diligent work for an employer). I need to trust. I need to remember the truth of working for fruit that lasts, working to store up treasure in heaven.
Our children learned the important verses from Proverbs 3: 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths' Proverbs 3:5-6 In ALL your ways - that surely includes nappy changing and the washing up, just as much as it does major decisions and life events.
I could write so much more - there are so many passages which talk of living simple, honest lives before God. Nothing dramatic much of the time. Simple. Faithful. There are many biographies of faithful Christians who have persevered, day after day through times which must have seemed mundane. And we can be greatly encouraged.
This morning, I choose to 'cast all my anxiety on Him, because He cares for me' (1 Peter).