It really should have come as absolutely no surprise that while I was writing a book on trading our worries, fears, and anxieties for God’s peace, that I would have plenty of opportunity to put that into practice. If it weren’t for the frustration, aggravation, and consternation, it might have been comical. But alas, I’m not quite there yet in my spiritual growth.
One week I travelled to Florida for the dual purpose of visiting my college-age son on the weekends, and writing during the week. No sooner had I dropped him back off at campus and gotten myself settled into a friend’s garage apartment when the call came from my husband.
“You could pray for me,” he started.
“Sure, Hon. What’s up?”
He proceeded to impart a couple of concerns he had about his current health status that had not yet risen to the level of “concern” in his mind while I was still at home, but during my travels they escalated a bit to the point that it tipped his scales. He is normally the least anxious, worried, or fearful individual I know, so if he becomes “concerned” then I have to fight against the temptation to worry.
He shared the health issue that had his doctor doing some research and asked me to pray. He explained that he wanted to trust his doctor to do what was best on his behalf, but he acknowledged that he knew he was in the midst of not only a physical, but also a cognitive and spiritual battle.
He went on to relay that he had a hard time starting his car that morning and needed to take it in to have the mechanic look at it. One of those situations that never seemed to occur at a mutually convenient time.
We said our goodbyes and I returned to my notes and my writing plans for the day only to be interrupted a couple hours later by another call.
“Do you have a minute?” he asked, then proceeded before really waiting for my answer. “The old tile has been ripped up…”
“It would be but they can’t lay the new tile today like we expected.”
“That doesn’t sound good…” I realized I was holding my breath while I was waiting for the other shoe to fall.
“The crack in the foundation runs the entire length of the house. The foundation has to be fixed before they can put down new flooring. We have to get the foundation fixed, and even after we fix it, we can’t put new flooring down for several months.”
“Are you kidding me?” was all I could say. We had specifically planned this project for the week I was out of town so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the mess or the noise while I was trying to work.
“I’m sorry Hon. I’ve got a call in to a structural engineer, but you’ll be coming home to bare concrete and several inches of dust throughout the house.”
My mind immediately went to the unanticipated expense, mess, and hassle. If we had known about this ahead of time, we never would have undertaken the project.
But we didn’t. And now we needed to decide how to handle the three scenarios that had burst on the scene like day old bubble gum.
A friend’s text message flashed across my phone as soon as I hung up with my husband, “How’s the writing going?”
I shared the triple whammy of issues my husband was facing at home, with frustration coursing through my veins. Then I paused.
“But I have a choice. I can choose to worry and become anxious and fearful, or I can choose to trust God and keep my peace. This too shall pass. None of these situations is what we would like, BUT, I am going to focus on what I can be grateful for: I’m grateful we have more than one vehicle to rely on when one is nonfunctional. I’m grateful his doctor is cautious. I’m grateful we have a home and a roof over our head and we had the money for new tile. I’m grateful that I have a husband to share the good times as well as the hard times with.”
I returned to the purpose for my trip and refocused my efforts on my work in progress, determined to address the problems at home once I was in fact back at home. The next afternoon, however, I had yet another opportunity to practice trading my worry, fear, and anxiety for His perfect peace.
“Unbelievable. ANOTHER school shooting. What is it going to take to keep our children safe?” was the message I received from a friend. “Reports suggest he was mentally ill. What do you think?”
“I’ve been unplugged. I don’t know anything about it. Where?”
“Parkland, Florida. Reports say at least 17 dead. They have the suspect in custody.”
Parkland. That sounds familiar. Parkland? We used to live near there.
Now I know why it was ringing a bell. “Wait! I think that’s where my nieces go to school!”
Immediately set about trying to contact my brother and nieces, albeit unsuccessfully.
I whispered prayers for their safety and for the safety of the students and teachers affected while I left messages for family.
Moments crawled by like honey dripping from a comb until I received word.
The high school in question was my niece’s. She was physically safe, but she and the rest of her student body had been through a traumatic event that no child should have to endure.
Social media and news outlets were quick to bring up politics, gun control, and mental health. Make no mistake, this tragedy was an act of evil in the south Florida community. The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy from those families, that school, and that community. But my faith remains in God who is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
This event really hit home for me. Not just because my niece could have been a victim, but because I worked as a responder with my fellow interns in conjunction with the Red Cross in the Oklahoma City bombing and I still can’t forget the sights, sounds, and smells of that evil. But Jesus died on the cross FOR those who committed evil against Him because He loved. Love is not the popular answer, but it is truth.
The day after this occurred, I received a text from another friend saying, “I honestly couldn’t breathe when I saw that shooting. I can’t stomach it anymore. I’m honestly battling much anxiety over the state of our world.”
But such unwanted situations, from the relatively benign car that wouldn’t start to a tragic school shooting, present us with an opportunity: either give in to the enemy’s temptation to worry, fear, and anxiety, or to stay grounded in the truth that perfect love casts out all fear and allows us to maintain our peace, not because all is well with the world, but because He has overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
What are you facing today that you need His peace for instead of worry, fear, and anxiety? Will you share in the comments below?
Can I pray for you?
Some days, weeks, and even months, life is hard. And situations tempt us to become worried, anxious, and fearful. Help us to trust you. You have overcome this world, and everything we face in it. Your word says that in you, we can have peace. Help this dear one to rest in you and experience a greater measure of your peace today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!
A Prayer When Life is Hard
Hope Prevails Book and Hope Prevails Bible Study offer hope for overcoming depression.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the new companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand: how depression comes to be, how to recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.