Recently when my niece’s daughter Harper and I were having a visit on FaceTime, she told me all about her new best friend: Skittles the guinea pig.
He went down the slide with her, nibbled on baby carrots at her tea parties and nestled in her mini stroller during walks. Oh, how she loved Skittles.
“I had a guinea pig named Oscar when I was a little girl,” I shared.
“You did? What happened to Oscar?” she asked. “Did he die? Did you give him away? Do guinea pigs go to heaven?” I was not expecting those questions and wished I had kept my guinea pig history to myself. When we said our goodbyes, I realized Harper, even at 5 years old, was worried about her little friend. She was anxious about Skittles’ future. Goldie the goldfish had a short life, and well, do guinea pigs live longer?
It seemed like such a small thing … and then I wondered if my anxious thoughts seem like small things to God.
I worry about my son, and then I remember God has a host of angels surrounding him. (Psalm 91:11-12) Protecting Steven is a small, easy thing for God.
I grow anxious about COVID-19, and then I remember all my days have been numbered since before there was even one of them. (Psalm 139:16)
It is so easy to fall into the trap of worrying about world events, especially wars and rumors of war. The media shows us horrific details of bombed-out buildings and burned-out homes. People fleeing and parents weeping.
And I get anxious. I grow worried. But when we witness such suffering, God calls us to respond out of trust in Him, not worry: “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed …” (Isaiah 1:17, NLT). When we face circumstances vastly out of our control, like a pandemic and war, we can also be reminded time and time again of who God is, and what He does, through the Scriptures.
He runs things. He is not aloof. He is not absent in life’s happenings. As He told Moses at the burning bush, He sees, and He hears — He is concerned. (Exodus 3:7)
I need to remember God has a providential, not accidental, plan for history. The word “providential” means “to see before,” to have a particular end or goal in mind. What happens in history, and with you and me, is not happenstance. He is in control of the sacred and secular. World history and my history.
I imagine God saying, Oh honey, don’t worry about what’s going on in the world at large or in your life right now. The circumstances are not a surprise to Me. I’m still in control. I’m still on My throne. And remember: Nothing is too difficult for Me. Your worries may loom large for you, but they are not too difficult for Me.
So what do we do when those anxious feelings creep in? When our hearts start to race, our palms start to sweat and our blood runs cold with worry?
As tempted as we might be to feed the worry, obsess over it with our friends or loved ones, or go into “fix-it mode” with Google, our first action should be to pray and give our burdens and worries to God. (Psalm 55:2)
Paul wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).
The Message paraphrase of Philippians 4:6-7 says it this way: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Don’t you love that? “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers.” Like a potter shaping clay into beauty, we have the opportunity to shape our worries into beautiful petitions to God.
I don’t know what you’re anxious about today, but I do know God is in control. And He is good.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being the omnipotent God who takes care of every need and calms every anxious heart. I give You my worries and concerns, knowing that You are in control, and You always have a good plan. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.