“Dear MOB Society, I just can’t stop worrying about my son’s future. Every time I watch the news there’s something new to be afraid of. I stay up at night thinking, ‘What if … ?’ I don’t want him to worry like I do. I feel like such a failure. Can you help?”
Oh, I can relate to this! We have three boys and each comes with his own set of worries. Our oldest son has dyslexia and is behind in reading. Will he ever catch up? How will this affect his future? Is there anything more I can be doing? Our middle son has autism and is mostly non-verbal. What will his future be like? He will likely live with us our entire lives, but then what? Will his brothers care for him? Will they live close enough to help when we’re older or unable to give him the care he needs? And our youngest son is currently in a school for blind children in China, waiting for our adoption of him to be final. What if he has attachment issues? What if his special needs are more than we anticipate? What if … ?
I know God does not want me to worry. He tells us over and over again to be strong, to give Him our burdens, to rest in His love and care for us. So how do I turn off my worries and focus on His promises? I open my Bible to Philippians 4 and find the answer. Verses 6-8 tell me what to do and how to do it:
… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- First, Paul writes we should not be anxious, but release our worries to God through prayer.
- Second, he promises God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ.
- Third, we are to evaluate our thoughts and worries by asking if they are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. If they aren’t, we should replace them with thoughts that are.
Here’s how this practically works in my life. It’s 11:46 at night and I can’t stop tossing and turning. Our youngest son James had a tough day. I’m worried he will grow more frustrated since he can’t communicate what he wants. I worry about how people will treat him when he’s a big twenty-year-old-man who can’t speak instead of a cute six-year-old boy. And what if I get sick and can’t take care of him when he’s twenty and bigger than I am?
When I realize I’ve reached the worrying stage, I go through this passage from Philippians in my mind. I release my worry to God through prayer. I focus on calming my body and mind and think about His peace. Then I replace the negative thoughts with ones that are true and worthy of praise.
“God, I’m worried about James’s future. You invite me to turn my worry over to You and you will settle my restless mind with Your peace. Instead of worrying, help me to replace my thoughts with what I know is true. You love James (Romans 8:36-39). You have a plan for His future (Jeremiah 29:11). You will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Thank you for your care for us! ‘In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety’ (Psalm 4:8).”
I know it isn’t easy to stop worrying. But God’s Word gives us a formula to help us combat that worry. We can trust in Him!