Worry hits me like a sharp, shallow breathing, right in the middle of the Wal-Mart.
There I am, just picking the cereal for the week and mentally running through what we already have at home in the pantry, when I realize my breaths are kind of shallow, kind of pained deep in my stomach.
Maybe it’s not even worry; it’s more just thought after thought piling on over time.
Thinking about the to-do-list items, an upcoming birthday, field hockey and dance, rehearsals, families around me in need, work craziness, and ministry decisions. I’m thinking about playground woes with mean girls for one daughter and tween emotions for two others and preschool for my son.
I feel “off.” Unsettled. Worn down. Tangled up.
As I push my cart around the store, I take some deep breaths and pray some quick prayers.
Dear Jesus, for my children….
Dear Jesus, for my own brokenness and sin….
Dear Jesus, for those around me….
Send peace . Be our peace, Lord.
I also chide myself. How foolish, like a tiny child, stressing over things not worth stressing over, thinking and mulling over decisions that will just come and work out and happen.
It all piles on in one day, though, my own problems to sort through and a host of others for people I care about:
A child with heart disease, a family missing loved ones in the aftermath of a hurricane in Puerto Rico, a dad’s death and a hard hospital visit.
This is a hard day. A hard day that is making me tenderhearted.
All that sorrow tumbles me into a sweet place of just crying with Jesus. I think maybe He weeps, too, just as He did when He stood outside of Lazarus’s tomb and saw how hard it is for all of us, how scared we are, how we mourn.
For a little while, I feel guilty for letting the smallest things in my own life land on my wimpy shoulders like heavy burdens.
I think, “Count your blessings! Buck up! Get over it already!”
And, maybe that’s a little right. Maybe my perspective is off and I needed a little spirit-check, that what has me personally weighed down is foolishness compared to the deep concerns of others.
But I read this also, right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ( Matthew 6:25 ESV)
We’re no different than the crowd of people surrounding him on a mountainside that day.
We feel anxious over the daily things that pound at us. The food we eat. The clothes we wear. The bodies we walk around in. The tiniest mundane details of our everyday life.
Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t be anxious about your cancer diagnosis or don’t be anxious about a divorce or a foreclosure.”
He said don’t worry about any of it. Don’t worry about lunch and dinner and your outfit for the day and your body type.
And he was so gracious about it. He didn’t tell the crowd to get over petty concerns because He was actually going to–you know–be persecuted and die for them because they were, after all, heading for eternal damnation.
Hannah Anderson writes:
“Jesus understood …that small things can unsettle us more than large things; so when He called the people of Galilee to leave their anxiety–when He calls us to do the same–He does so in context of very mundane, very ordinary concerns… At the same time, He doesn’t shame us for worrying about them. He doesn’t tell us just how to be grateful, to remember how much better we have it than other people…..Instead, He asks if our worry is actually accomplishing anything” (Humble Roots).
It’s not, of course. Worry isn’t accomplishing anything for anybody.
But it is a prompting to prayer. It’s the catalyst that stops me from just standing nearby as a helpless bystander and instead rolling up my sleeves to get in the fight.
I can’t fix this. Not any of it. But I can pray.
I can pray it out. Pray it like that’s our only hope because that’s exactly who Jesus is: He’s our Hope and our Strength and our Peace and He is who we need when we’re worrying over our children and He is who we need when our friends are facing down death and despair.
So as I stand there in the middle of the Wal-Mart and then in my minivan and then in my home, I begin to pray it out to Jesus.