She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
How many readers think this verse from Proverbs is talking about them? This past week I crossed paths with a few folks who seemed to be consumed with fear and worry about the future. I can tell you that they were not laughing at the days to come and I struggled to help them move from worry to peaceful faith. As I thought and prayed about these conversations I found this verse and it made me smile.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes one person worry and another one not worry at all? Some of us look to the future and smile; others look the same direction and feel a pang of worry, dread and maybe even fear. Some might say worrying is just a part of your hard-wiring but I suppose we all carry a little bit of worry with us most days. I read once that there is a big difference between worry and concern. Being concerned about something inspires us to organize, call on resources and to handle things as best we can and leave the rest to God. Worry is more like doing everything possible and still fretting about God being able to do the rest according to your plan.
When the boys were little they had some plastic toy swords and the movie Peter Pan. They would have sword fights anywhere; the barn, kitchen, and yard you name it they would imagine a scene and play like crazy. Surprisingly, there were no casualties until the night they snuck the swords under the covers. The fight that night was a small disaster leaving two little boys with some red marks, a black eye and a giant scrape to the belly. When the dust settled and we were trying to sort it all out, the problem boiled down to the darkness. In the light, they could see and anticipate what was coming but in the darkness of their bedroom they couldn’t anticipate and react to what they couldn’t see coming. They lost their guide and their protection.
The Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at days to come is one who doesn’t sit in the darkness of worry. Why? What makes her so immune to the worries and woes of the day? I think the answer to that question comes in the first part of the verse; strength and dignity. The really important part of the puzzle though is the realization that the strength and dignity come from God not from the world or within. When we think of strength, we typically think of muscles and physical power which requires work to attain. When we talk about strength from God the opposite is true. In order to be powered by the strength of God we have to do nothing but rest in him and know he will do all the heavy lifting! Gods strength sees all the obstacles and shifts in the path, he simply asks that we let him love us enough to maneuver us through them. If we can’t rely on God’s strength it’s kind of like having a sword fight in the dark; there is no way to anticipate and react to what we can’t see coming.
Laughing at the future doesn’t mean we see what’s coming; it means we are strong enough to face it because we know God will defend, protect and love us through whatever comes our way. He loves us too much to put us in a situation that is beyond what we need. Yes, sometimes we need struggle and difficulty but he knows how much and for what reason. We need to work on laughing at the days to come because when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, it’s kind of funny that we should worry about something God has already orchestrated right down to the most teeny tiny detail.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that worry you. Ask God to bring you strength this week as you pray daily for him to transform your worry to peace.
Blessings on your day!
This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a conference for Deacons and their wives in the Diocese of Lubbock, TX. As I sat in the audience waiting my turn to take the stage, I was wrestling with some fear. The fear was self inflicted because the morning speakers were Deacon Dominick Pastore and his wife Teresa Tomeo Pastore. Teresa Tomeo is a Catholic Rock Star! She is a famous TV and Radio personality and the author of many powerful books. To say I was a wee bit apprehensive to follow in the footsteps of such giants of the faith is an understatement. As I sat wrestling, I heard that familiar message of the Father that reminds me; Sheri, I’ve called you to be my servant, not a star. Fear was trying to creep it’s way into my heart and that’s when I remembered a lesson taught by one of my own students who is todays guest blogger.
Todays blogger is truly a sweet, gentle, beautiful daughter of God. Melanie shares her many gifts and talents as easily as she shares her warm smile and her faithful spirit.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” - Matthew 6:34
Last month, I nervously walked into the State Finals Spelling Bee with hundreds of thoughts twirling around my head. I had just placed 2nd in the Diocesan spelling bee to another speller, who seemed like she knew every word in the English language. This was my second state finals and I had studied very hard, but I still feared that my mind would go blank. I wanted to represent my school well, but a sense of worry loomed in the back of my mind.
Just a while back, we began these books as a Lenten reflection in our class. The girls were reading, Make Every Day Count by Max Lucado. The book was a great tool to grow closer to Christ and it touched my heart in many places. But one chapter really spoke to me. It helped me with something I knew I had; fear!
Fear is one of the most negative energies out there. It originates from the feeling that God’s plan won’t work or we’re not good enough. Yet, fear is something we should embrace. But why?
Fear happens to everyone. It can actually be beneficial or harmful, but it depends how you look at it and how you use it. If we let what we’re scared of take over our minds and hearts, we could be in for some serious damage. Rather, take fear as an opportunity, not a burden.
We can use fear to grow in holiness, because every day we can choose how to tackle it. Instead of running from our fears, we can run to God for the strength and guidance to overcome them. God hasn’t abandoned us; he is always waiting with open arms to aid us in our times of need. All we have to do is believe that he can help us and he does care about us. Because it’s true. But, we also must believe that he will help us, even if it doesn’t happen right away. We must still place our trust in God, even if we are waiting, or else we’ll begin to doubt Him and ask,“Can He do this?” “Does He even care about me?” “I’m not sure He’ll even help…” “Why isn’t God helping me?”
You may be wondering, why can’t I just let my fear go and that be the end of it? Well, to be able to let go of something, first you must embrace it. Just like you have to take the opportunity to run to Jesus and admit you have fears before you can get rid of them.
As I stood up to that microphone to spell my first word, I realized that I was prepared and ready to do my best. And even if I did get out, God didn’t love me any less. I knew that Jesus was right by my side and he had everything under control.
A Seed to Plant: Imagine Jesus running toward you, and taking all your fears away. Offer up all of your worries to God today.
Blessings on your day!
Thank you Melanie…you are amazing!
Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Matthew 6:25
If I asked you to make a list of the top ten things you worry about, what would it look like? Stop for a second and bring a few of your worries to mind….Why do we spend so much time worrying? What do you suppose brings it all on in the first place? I actually know a few folks who could be professional worriers. I’ve met people who worry if they can’t think of enough things to worry about. It’s a crazy thing but it’s so common.
I happened to meet a worrier extraordinaire on my flight home recently so I knew exactly what God was going to ask me to write about this week! In the span of about 10 minutes this poor woman who was the size of a pixie stick worried that her bag wouldn’t fit under the seat, that her toothpaste would squirt out of the tube due to changing air pressure, that her Diet Coke wouldn’t be served with ice, that the sweater in her bag would get too wrinkled, that her curling iron cord would get tangled and that the seat belt would be too small to fit around her itty bitty waist…that one made me laugh out loud and as I pointed to my already fastened seat belt… we both chuckled at the ridiculousness of that last concern. I asked her if she often felt joyful and she looked at me like I had two heads and replied, “I don’t have time to be joyful, I have too much to worry about for that!”
This passage from Matthews Gospel is one of many that warn against unnecessary worry. Jesus was teaching that too much worry is a clear sign of not enough trust! Yes, we are going to be concerned about things and ponder and pray about our children, our finances, our future and when we will next have dessert, God knows that but he expects us to lift those concerns to him and faithfully ask him to take charge…and he will…in his time…in his wisdom and in his way.
I was glancing at my boarding pass as we landed in Chicago and Mrs. Worry Wart glanced down at it and nearly hyperventilated. She told me there was absolutely no way I could make my connection 3 terminals away in such a huge airport in less than an hour. “Aren’t you worried, it’s late, you’re gonna miss your flight and you’ll never get home tonight, you’ll have to sleep in the airport and someone might steal your things while you doze off sitting in the uncomfortable chairs, what will you do?” I smiled at her and said, “Sister, God invited me to go on this trip and spread a little of his word and he knows my middle lovelies need me tomorrow morning so I am certain that he will help me glide my chubby hind parts three terminals over in time to get on the plane and make it home tonight.” “How can you be so sure about that?” came her reply. I smiled, touched her hand and said, “Because the God who made us and loves us takes care of everything perfectly when we let him. He depends on us to love him and if we’re too busy worrying, we don’t have as much time for that as we should.” I made it to my gate with several minutes to spare so I sat down to tell him thank you!
My friends, worry robs us of peace, it strips us of our joy and it erodes our trust. When we were little, our mom’s told us not to touch the stove because it was harmful and dangerous. In scripture our Father tells us the same thing about worry. We listened to our mom’s but how are we doing with listening to our Father? Jesus told the Women of Jerusalem on his way to Calvary not to worry even while he could see his own cross. I’m sure nothing I could worry about could even compare so I think I’d better pay attention. Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher used to say, “ Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its trials; it simply empties today of its joy.” Great food for thought as we get ready to begin Holy Week.
A Seed To Plant: Lift your list of worries to the Lord and ask him to help you swap worry for trust!
Blessings on your day!
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