Why Worry Makes Things Worse: Finding Peace in Trials

Pretend for a moment that you’re a woman living in a war-torn country. You know – like all those women we’ve seen on TV for years – hanging on to their babies, running from madmen with assault rifles. Or, more recently, hiding in a factory or a subway to escape an army that doesn’t care that you’re a civilian. A mom. That your kids are scared and hungry. What do you think you would long for most?

Peace. Of course.

The lack of peace would affect everything around you.

It would be almost impossible to focus on anything but the enemy trying to destroy your home, your family, your very life. You would have no time or energy for anything else. How could you plant a garden or sell goods in the market with bullets flying over your head?

We may not live in a war-torn country, but sometimes we have war-torn hearts. We just don’t have the strength to fight anymore. There are too many things coming at us. We can’t hold a thought. Can’t keep our stuff together. We don’t know how to move forward.

Many years ago, one of my children left home in a fit of anger towards her father. I was so brokenhearted I couldn’t function. I was in a stupor. She wasn’t gone an hour or two when my husband and I decided to get out of the house and go to the city. My thoughts were: Maybe we’ll see her there. Maybe she’ll come home with us.

On the way, my husband stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was appalled. How could he eat when his child had just left home? Normally, stress would send me straight to the refrigerator, but my daughter was gone, and I didn’t know if she would ever come back. I was too consumed with fear and grief to consume food. Didn’t he care?

Of course he did. But he didn’t fall into a hole like I did when something bad happened to one of the kids (after you finish this post come back up and read our post about the fearful prayers we pray for our children).

The definition of anxiety in the Bible is to disunite, divide, give a part. The Greek word is merizo. When we are anxious, we give a part of our wholeness away. We fall apart and a part of us becomes hopeless and faithless.

We disunite from the things we know to be true, the things that hold us together in times of trial. We forget the promise because it’s just not working, and we have to take matters into our own hands. We have divided hearts and divided minds. We DO NOT have peace when we’re anxious. A double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.

The definition of peace is the opposite of anxiety.

Anxiety disunites us. We fall from the wall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t fix us. Peace puts us back together again. In the Greek, peace is eireneprosperity, quietness, rest, set at one again.

When we’re impoverished, stripped of everything we care about, peace is our prosperity. It’s a new start. A second chance.

When our minds are shouting us down till we can’t think, peace is our quiet place.

When we’re just too tired to try any more, peace is the green pasture where we lie down and rest.

All well and good, you say. But when children are not coming home from school today. Or ever. When a maniacal finger hovers over the button. We can barely breathe, how can we have peace?

But what other choice can we make? Give up? Pull the covers over our heads and sleep through it all?

Will our worry change the nightly news? An unexpected diagnoses? A rebellious child?

Matthew said it best.

Matthew 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Anxiety doesn’t keep us safe.

We can worry all we want, but it won’t make anything better or safer or less frightening. So what are we to stand on when the world is rocking under our feet?

Isaiah 54:10 “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

The mountains and the hills may depart. They may blow up into a million little pieces, or evaporate in a nuclear blast. Our present may look unfixable and our future uncertain. But the mountain of God’s love will never depart. His promise of peace will not be removed.

So we can choose. Worry ourselves sick and sorrowful and scared, or trust God’s promise to give us peace in the firefight.

Even King David fought fear.
In Psalm 56:3 David said, “What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.”

David, who penned most of the Psalms we take comfort in, feared when he was surrounded by his enemies. But fear didn’t paralyze him! Even when he was afraid, David trusted and had confidence in God. He knew God because he had spent time in His presence. David had seen God topple giants and scatter enemies. He had experienced God’s forgiveness for grievous sins. He was afraid, but because he KNEW and TRUSTED God, he was able to deal with his fear.

The bottom line of peace is to be assured of our salvation through Christ.

If we trust that our souls are safe in the hands of God we are assured of a future with Him no matter what’s going on in the present.

That is the ultimate peace. We can trust in the power of the blood that Christ shed for us.

Do you remember the first Passover? When the death angel passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn of everyone who was not in a house with the blood of a sacrificial lamb spread over the doorpost?

Exodus 12:13

It was the blood that protected them, but I think it’s safe to say there was worry going on in those houses.

In his book, The Basis of Victory in Spiritual Warfare: the Blood of Christ, James Holly talks about what might be going on in the Israelite’s minds as the Angel of God passed over to deliver God’s wrath on the Egyptians. The people who had held His people in bondage for 400 years. I’ve paraphrased the passage here.

So let’s imagine:

In one house the Israelites are huddled together shivering for fear of the Death Angel.
Yet they are still protected by the blood.

In another house, someone is wondering just how much blood it takes. Did they apply enough?
Yet they too are protected by the blood.

Others are thinking, But what if the blood dripped off the lintel? Or an enemy washed it off after we came in the house?
Yet they are still protected by the blood.

A woman in the corner is wondering if the blood will even work. It doesn’t make sense.
Yet she is protected by the blood.

Down the street, an Egyptian had watched his Israelite neighbor prepare the lamb and paint his lintel with blood. He imitates him and brings his own family into his blood-swathed house.
He’s not an Israelite. He’s an other. Yet he and his family are still protected by the blood.

And last, in one of the houses, there’s an Israelite struggling with doubt that the death angel even exists.
Yet this doubting Israelite is also protected by the blood of the Lamb.

Everyone who was in a house marked by the blood was safe from the wrath of God.

It didn’t matter what was going on in their minds. God didn’t look at anything but the blood. If our doubts and failings could negate the efficacy of the blood of the Lamb, we’d all be lost. We know we are sinners. That’s what makes us afraid.

But He doesn’t look at our sins. He only looks at the blood. God didn’t do a thorough background check, to see if there were any hidden sins in the Israelites lives before He passed by. He just looked at the blood.

If we are washed in the blood of the Lamb—if His blood is on the doorpost of our hearts, we have peace with God so we can have the peace of God.

I know it’s hard sometimes. But anxiety doesn’t help. It hinders our peace and our ability to just trust God. We don’t have to understand everything to live in peace. We just have to keep our eyes on the Prince of Peace.

But it’s a choice.

Rebecca and I hope you’ll choose to trust and live the plan God has for your life in the sweet peace of Jesus.