faith

Encouragement for When Circumstances Elicit Worry

Encouragement for When Circumstances Elicit Worry

I stood at the airline attendant’s desk scrambling through the same three pockets of my bags. Where is it? Did I leave it at the hotel? No, there is no way I would have made it to the gate and through security without my license. I’ve only made one stop between security and the gate —the restroom. Did I drop it in the stall? I returned to the desk to no avail. I peered up in defeat. “Will I still be able to board the flight?” I asked hopelessly.

I sometimes lose sight of what truly matters in circumstances like this, and I’m sure the response isn’t unique to me. 

They are only trivial events, but nonetheless they snag at my emotional stability like a loose thread on a sweater. I put too much emphasis on smoothly flowing rhythms and routines to indicate how well I’m coping in life. I mistakenly look to circumstances as an indication of God’s goodness and favor in my life. Then something bumps into my comfort like this fiasco at Delta gate 23, and all of a sudden I start questioning why this is happening. 

What did I do to deserve this God? I just want to get home to my family. It has been days since I last saw my precious children and husband. My emotions are already taxed from thinking of how my husband is faring with the three kids on his own. I was so close, but of course something would have to go awry or life would just be too easy.

The thoughts make their continual spiral downward and I fret in the moments between my question and the airline worker’s response. I pick the already irritated place just beside my thumbnail. I think about all the times that I have let myself get worked up over insignificant matters.  

I imagined another silver steak sprouting from my scalp as I added another memory to the file in my mind labeled “worry”. Some memories that existed there were serious, like the time we had multiple flat tires on our way home from our family vacation. We had to go back to the tire place three times before we we’re back safely on the road. I could have slept for a week after the energy I had expended from that event. Some were more trivial, like the times that my husband forgot to put the trash by the road for the garbage truck to pick up for the week. 

No matter the severity of the issue at hand, I’d let myself get so worked up that either tears would come, or an argument would erupt, or I’d gain another wrinkle in between my eyebrows from the tension. I’d always forgotten what was most important in my emotional turmoil.

The scene of Jesus in the desert being tempted by Satan comes to mind. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 

I’m comforted by the realization that our savior knew we’d be tempted to concern ourselves with the less important things of this life like what we will eat, or wear, or how we will arrive home. He knew we’d be tempted to put my hope in things flowing smoothly as an indication of His presence, but by doing that we would deny ourselves the opportunity to know that His goodness is actually not dependent on circumstances at all. God knew that it would be a natural response to give into this temptation, leave emotions unchecked, and ultimately lead us to sinning against Him and hurting others in the process. So He gave us Jesus and peace that satisfies even during unforseen circumstances of discomfort. 

I step forward towards the gate to board the plane, and my license falls out onto the floor. I remove this particular file to the section in my mind labelled “proof” to keep on hand for the next time my response to difficulty tries to steal my peace. 

Don’t we know yet that nothing satisfies like His peace? Why are we so easily entangled in the same trap of worry? Maybe today we can respond differently in light of this reminder from scripture. Maybe God allows difficulties because He knows we need to be reminded of His presence and peace that is present regardless of our circumstances or our tendencies to worry.

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