Friends, let’s get right to it. Can we agree that we worry extensively about stuff that never happens? Our worry about impending situations with family, friends, work and our enemies that “might” happen rarely does happen. Worry catapults extreme fear in our being as we imagine what could occur in made up scenarios. Our worry then causes us to come up with self-made schemes as if we are in control of what the other person is going to do!
We live to avoid getting hurt in a hurting world in need of a Savior. So, our worry can keep us from confronting those things in life that we think might cause injury. But Friends, our worry is nothing but seeds of sin that grow rapidly, spreading viney tenacles of fear, bitterness, jealousy, envy and unrest that take over our thinking and behaving. Our worry is a weed that chokes out the peace of Christ given to us. Worry produces nothing of value in our lives. Worry is a time waster.
My mom was a very practically minded, project oriented, detail organizer, and problem solver. She planned for the worst that could happen so she would be prepared. I asked her why she thought this way. I asked because I saw her worry more than she was at peace. She said, “If I expect the worst and prepare my mind for it, then if it doesn’t happen I can be pleasantly surprised.” “If it does, then I am prepared.” Yeah, I didn’t buy completely into this thinking but I did see the value in planning and organizing so that the best possible outcomes for fulfilling what God told me to be and do. God says in His Word to plan but not to worry! But we do! We worry ourselves to death over everything, it seems. That didn’t seem right to me as a younger adult.
My dad just worried. Period. He knew he was a worrier. His favorite comeback was, “I’m so good at worrying, I can worry for you and others as a profession.” Yeah, dad, I don’t want to go this route either.
Faith seems to have a lot to do with the measure of our worry. Who’s really in control? You or God? Who do your trust in all circumstance? You or God? Who has more power and knows what is ultimately the best for us? You or God?
Look back over your life and evaluate like I’m doing right now. Did what you feared and worried about most really happen the way you imagined it in your mind? Survey says…99 percent of what we worry about these days never happens. So, how much time is wasted in worry? Guilty. How about you?
Jacob, full of fear and worry, schemes to reconcile with his brother who he has bilked out of his birthright and blessing years earlier. The first paragraph brings us to tears. What Jacob worried about didn’t happen. Esau RAN TO JACOB and embraced him. That action says it all.
It makes me wonder what we think God thinks of us which causes us to worry before coming back to Him. Well, that depends on Who we trust. Worry gets us nowhere but to a tiny jailcell of mindful imprisonment. Faith opens the doors to the wide-open spaces of all that God wants to do in us and through us! When we realize this truth, God comes running after us! Jesus, God’s Son, said,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
What Jacob feared most did not happen. Let’s learn from the story of God in Jacob…
Genesis 33, The Message
1-4 Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his four hundred men. He divided the children between Leah and Rachel and the two maidservants. He put the maidservants out in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last. He led the way and, as he approached his brother, bowed seven times, honoring his brother. But Esau ran up and embraced him, held him tight and kissed him. And they both wept.
5 Then Esau looked around and saw the women and children: “And who are these with you?”
Jacob said, “The children that God saw fit to bless me with.”
6-7 Then the maidservants came up with their children and bowed; then Leah and her children, also bowing; and finally, Joseph and Rachel came up and bowed to Esau.
8 Esau then asked, “And what was the meaning of all those herds that I met?”
“I was hoping that they would pave the way for my master to welcome me.”
9 Esau said, “Oh, brother. I have plenty of everything—keep what is yours for yourself.”
10-11 Jacob said, “Please. If you can find it in your heart to welcome me, accept these gifts. When I saw your face, it was as the face of God smiling on me. Accept the gifts I have brought for you. God has been good to me and I have more than enough.” Jacob urged the gifts on him and Esau accepted.
12 Then Esau said, “Let’s start out on our way; I’ll take the lead.”
13-14 But Jacob said, “My master can see that the children are frail. And the flocks and herds are nursing, making for slow going. If I push them too hard, even for a day, I’d lose them all. So, master, you go on ahead of your servant, while I take it easy at the pace of my flocks and children. I’ll catch up with you in Seir.”
15 Esau said, “Let me at least lend you some of my men.”
“There’s no need,” said Jacob. “Your generous welcome is all I need or want.”
16 So Esau set out that day and made his way back to Seir.
17 And Jacob left for Succoth. He built a shelter for himself and sheds for his livestock. That’s how the place came to be called Succoth (Sheds).
18-20 And that’s how it happened that Jacob arrived all in one piece in Shechem in the land of Canaan—all the way from Paddan Aram. He camped near the city. He bought the land where he pitched his tent from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. He paid a hundred silver coins for it. Then he built an altar there and named it El-Elohe-Israel (Mighty Is the God of Israel).
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
What Jacob feared most did not happen. God told Jacob to go back home. God also told him, “I will be with you, protect you and keep you safe.” Why worry and scheme?
Jesus teaches us our response when it comes to worry versus faith. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34
Seek God first. Trust God. No, really, Trust God. Even when bad stuff happens you didn’t see coming, God already knows and has a plan to help you through it. Seek God who knows what we need before we need it and provides it even before we ask. God, who is FIRST in our lives, the first one we talk with and listen to, is always at work on our behalf because of His great love for us. Trust Him. Have faith in a faithful, unchanging in His promises, God.
“I will be with you.” –God
Jesus reiterates, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
Truly great is your faithfulness to us. I repent of worry that wastes time. All my hope, trust and faith is in you for you are Life forever. Thank you for knowing all my needs and providing so well. Great is your faithfulness, indeed!
In Jesus Name, Amen