We’re in the throes of choosing a secondary school for our children. With the deadline for applications being the end of October, all the schools in our area are hosting open evenings. As the staff ply parents and delighted children with cake, sweets, tea and cold drinks and get pupils and teachers to be on their very best behaviour, we walk around the school in the hope of being able to gauge within a few short moments whether it will be a good fit for our children for the rest of their school lives.
We’ve been to four schools in three weeks and with one more open evening to attend, we’re all feeling frazzled and unsure. As our exhausted son collapsed into bed after one such evening, he worriedly confessed, “Mom, I don’t know how to choose.”
As wonderful as choice is, it can also be confusing leading to sleepless nights, tension headaches and a general sense of anxiety.
What’s keeping you up at night? What are your thoughts consumed by? How do you counteract worry and anxiety?
The Bible says
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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
Whether you consider yourself a follower of Jesus or not, when the storms of life hit and you find yourself lying awake at night, wrestling frenzied thoughts and confusing choices, most of us cry out to God in prayer.
In the midst of worrying situations Jesus promises a peace no one else can offer;
“Peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” – John 14:27
John Piper has many concerns that threaten to steal his joy and peace. Aside from his public role as founder of desiringgod.org, theologian and author, he’s also a devoted husband, father to five and grandfather to twelve (at last count). He writes that the promises of God act as a defence against worry and anxiety as he intentionally deflects any troubled thoughts onto his Maker.
When I am anxious about my ministry being useless and empty, I fight unbelief with the promise of Isaiah 55:11. “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” When I am anxious about being too weak to do my work, I battle unbelief with the promise of Christ, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I am anxious about decisions I have to make about the future, I battle unbelief with the promise, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8). When I am anxious about facing opponents, I battle unbelief with the promise, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When I am anxious about the welfare of those I love, I battle unbelief with the promise that if I, being evil, know how to give good things to my children, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
And I fight to maintain my spiritual equilibrium with the reminder that everyone who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for Christ’s sake shall “receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). When I am anxious about being sick, I battle unbelief with the promise, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
And I take the promise with trembling: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3–5)” – John Piper.
Why worry? The next time you feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, surrender them to your Maker. “Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:6-7).