Many Christians waste precious moments of their time here on Earth worrying. They worry about people, they worry about circumstances, they worry about money, jobs, rents, mortgages, loans, neighbors, enemies, war, plane crashes, car crashes, terrorists, pollution, their health, their hair, their weight, and their children going spiritually astray. They worry about not having enough time to do all the things they think they need to do. Some even worry about worrying too much. There is no end to their worry, but every single second of it is in vain. A mind that worries reflects a soul weak in faith.
Jesus never worried about anything. He dealt with problems as they arose; otherwise, he didn’t create any in his mind. He said: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof“, and to the biggest worry-wart of all in scripture, he gently chided: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her“. Worry is essentially fictional problems that people create in their mind and then mull over. We are all, to some extent, guilty of doing that. But we don’t have to worry if choose not to. It’s a choice. And the best way to overcome the temptation to worry is to remember these three simple spiritual facts.
- God is in control. That is not to say that God is controlling you so that we don’t have free will, but that he is in control of all the circumstances that make up the tapestry of your life, however complex.
- God loves you. We hear that so much that sometimes we don’t actually hear it when we hear it. What does it mean that God loves us? If you have ever loved someone who was almost entirely dependent on you, then you have a general idea what “God loves you” means, except unlike our love, God’s love is unconditional, never fails, and is perfect. He loves us regardless of what we do or whether or not we love him in return (or even believe he exists). This unconditional love for each one of us drives God to literally (not figuratively, literally) move Heaven and Earth to arrange circumstances in our favor so that we’ll someday make it home.
- God’s justice is perfect. We live in an age of “social justice”, which is loosely defined as angry, confused people running around trying to prevent other people from living the consequences of their actions or, in other words, trying to upend God’s justice. None of us were randomly born into our circumstances; if we have loving and wise parents, it’s because we’ve earned them; if we have nightmares for parents, it’s because we’ve earned them. God’s justice works in tandem with God’s love for us and with God being in control of everything. If you try to give something to someone who hasn’t earned it (whether for good or for bad), they will still get what is coming to them, one way or another (again, whether for good or for bad). God’s justice will prevail. If you are thrown unjustly into jail, God will send his angel to open the prison door. I know this is true not just because I know that God’s justice is perfect and I read about prison doors being opened in scripture, but because it happened to me. One minute, I was standing in a jail cell being told by a police officer that I would be shut up in prison for days, and the next minute an angel appeared to me, telling me I’d be out shortly, and sure enough, within a few seconds the same officer who had told me I’d be shut up for days came back to tell me the plans had changed and I would have to leave immediately for the courthouse (which then, a few hours later, led to freedom).
These three very simple truths – that God is in control, that he loves us, and that his justice is perfect – are clearly on display in our lives if we open our eyes to them. For commonality’s sake, they are also clearly on display in the story of Jesus’ nativity. Remember that the Old Testament prophets had proclaimed, by God’s Spirit, the circumstances of the Messiah’s birth and that by these circumstances we would be able to identify the Messiah. Well, we can clearly see in the story of Jesus’ birth the three simple spiritual facts working in tandem with each other, showing us not only that God is always – ALWAYS – in control, but that he loves us (and therefore is moving Heaven and Earth to bring us home), and that his justice ultimately is perfect.
Think about this for a second – if Caesar Augustus hadn’t called the census, Joseph and Mary wouldn’t have traveled to Bethlehem. But according to scripture, the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. So the census being called at that exact point in Mary’s pregnancy was the hook to get Joseph to return to Bethlehem to register, since he was of the house of David, whose seat is in Bethlehem. And Joseph had to take Mary, as she was his wife. Even heavily pregnant, she had to go with her husband to register. That was the law under Caesar Augustus. So if Caesar Augustus hadn’t called for a census at that exact time, and if Joseph hadn’t gone to Bethlehem with Mary, and if Mary hadn’t been heavily pregnant, she wouldn’t have given birth to Jesus in Bethlehem and the scripture about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem would not have been fulfilled.
Think about this for a second – if the three wise men from the East hadn’t followed the star to Jerusalem, they wouldn’t have inquired of Herod where the King of the Jews was to be born; if they hadn’t inquired of Herod, he wouldn’t have inquired of the Jewish priests and scribes about where the Messiah should be born. If Herod hadn’t inquired of the priests and scribes, the rest of the powers-that-be in Jerusalem wouldn’t have heard the rumor about the King of the Jews being born in Bethlehem and the threat that his birth would cause to their status quo of power-sharing with the Romans. If the powers-that-be in Jerusalem hadn’t felt threatened, they wouldn’t have pressured Herod to “deal with it”, which led to him calling for a slaughter of all children aged 2 and under, after the three wise men had wisely given Herod the slip and gone home another way. If Herod (not knowing precisely who the newborn King of the Jews was [having been given the slip by the three wise men] and under pressure from the Jewish powers-that-be to deal with the problem) hadn’t called for a slaughter, Joseph wouldn’t have fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, having been warned to leave immediately by an angel of God. If Joseph hadn’t fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, the scripture about God’s son being called out of Egypt would not have been fulfilled.
Think about this for a second – if King Herod hadn’t died a few years after he had called for a slaughter, Joseph and Mary wouldn’t have returned to Israel. But when they returned and found out that Herod’s son (who was the same or worse than his father for cruelty) had become king, they wouldn’t have chosen to settle in a different jurisdiction – that of Galilee, in the city of Nazareth. If they hadn’t chosen to settle in Nazareth when Jesus was still a young child, the scripture about the Messiah being called a Nazarene would not have been fulfilled.
Foretelling future events is God’s way of letting us know he’s in control, and that, by extension, he loves us and his justice is perfect, so there’s no need to worry about anything. Worrying is a waste of time and reveals a weakness in your faith. But you can easily overcome that weakness and strengthen your faith HERE AND NOW by stopping worrying about whatever it is you’re worried about. Being aware of your life’s circumstances doesn’t mean you have to worry about them. God doesn’t want us to be oblivious to our problems; he wants us to be aware of them in such a way that we don’t worry about them but work to remedy them with his help.
Don’t worry: Do and be the best you can, and put the rest in God’s hands.