When our son Christopher was called home to heaven almost 11 years ago, it was so traumatizing that I wondered whether I would survive it.
Yes, I am a pastor, but when the day was done, I was just a father in pain. So I reached out to fellow pastors and some other wonderful people I know, and they were a great encouragement to me.
Like anyone else, I had questions. And even though I have provided others with answers many times, I still was in need of help myself. I also reached out to other parents who had lost children, because knowing there was someone who had somehow survived it was comforting to me.
This is where community comes in, and this is where the church comes in. At our church campus in Maui, they call it “‘ohana,” the Hawaiian word for “family.” We don’t need to suffer alone. The Bible says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NLT).
The advantage of being part of a church is that you have a circle of people who ultimately will become your friends. You have someone to talk to, someone to whom you can say, “Can I share something with you?” or “Will you pray about this with me?” It’s wonderful when we can do that for one another. We are not alone in our suffering.
I think, however, there is something in us that doesn’t want to admit we need help. Why is that? Because we’re proud, that’s why. We all need to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need help from other people … and especially from God.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT). That’s quite a promise. We all have cares and worries and anxieties that weigh us down. Sometimes they even wake us up in the middle of the night.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave these powerful words: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (Matthew 6:31–32 NLT).
Jesus isn’t saying that we should not think about those things or be concerned with the needs of life. Rather, he is saying, “Don’t worry about it.”
Elsewhere in Scripture, we’re commended for working hard and saving and investing, so there is a place for that. But Jesus is saying, “Don’t have anxiety about the issues of life. Stop doing what you’ve already been doing.”
Jesus did most of his teaching outdoors. While he spoke in a synagogue on occasion, mostly he was out and about with his disciples. So he used this to give an illustration about worry: “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26 NLT). He was pointing out that birds don’t worry, so why should we?
I have a bird feeder in front of my kitchen window, and I like to watch the birds come and eat. But I haven’t ever seen them getting stressed out. They fly in, get their seed, and take off. They know that feeder will have seed in it.
It reminds me of an old poem I came across years ago:
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“Friend, I’d really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
Jesus went on to say, “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (verses 28–30 NLT).
Jesus was pointing out that we should not be obsessed with the outward. He isn’t saying we shouldn’t think about the outward; he’s saying that we shouldn’t be obsessed with it.
When we worry we’re not trusting God, essentially. Worry is a lack of trust in God. In fact, the word “worry” means “to strangle or to choke,” and that is exactly what worry does to you. It’s been said that worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. Worry is interest paid on troubles before they are due.
As 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (NKJV). The word “casting” used here is a word signifying a definite act of the will. This means we are to stop worrying and let God assume the responsibility for our welfare. It’s deliberately, intentionally putting our cares into God’s hands. We need to give our burdens to God.
And notice the second part of the verse: “for He cares for you.” If it troubles you, then it concerns God. God is saying, “I care about you. I’m concerned about you. Why don’t you cast that on me?” When your burdens are piling up, bring them to God.
It comes down to this: We need to trust in the providence of God. For the follower of Jesus, the providence, or sovereignty, of God simply means that God is in control of our lives. Either God allows it or God does it. We may not understand it at the moment. But God is in control of all things. There are no accidents in the life of the Christian – nothing touches us that is not first passed through God’s loving hands.