My Dad likes to say that he’s proven that worry works: 99% of the things he worries about never happen! He’s being facetious, of course, and his point is that most of the things we worry about never would happen. Which is true. Worry is pointless. Beyond that, God tells us not to worry. But here’s where I stumble: Many of the things I worry about really do have the potential of happening.
There’s so much to worry about in our world today. You don’t need me to name the possibilities, and I won’t, just in case there’s something to worry about that you haven’t thought of yet. 🙂 Let me just say, I’m a skillful worrier — Olympic quality. And public anxiety has become fashionable. It’s the new black.
I have a friend in India who’s an evangelist. He shares the gospel with Hindus. It’s hard. Sometimes, it’s frightening. He and his family (wife and 3 adorable little girls) had to leave their home region because of persecution. Now, he’s suffering in other ways. Recently, he was threatened with eviction because they couldn’t pay the rent. (His landlord has since shown him mercy and allowed him more time to get the rent.) His little girls cried themselves to sleep the other night, because there was no food.
We talk nearly every day, and he has been distressed this week. I’ve not known what to say. Oh, I know all the verses and platitudes … but I also know how I feel when someone says things like that to me when I’m distressed. It doesn’t cure my anxiety. It just tells me to make a note not to share my fears with that person in the future. (I know that’s not the “godly” response, but it’s true.) When God brings Scriptures to mind that I’ve memorized, it helps me. But when other people say, “Don’t worry, blah, blah, blah,” all I feel is condemnation. I’m not saying that’s a commendable response, just being transparent here.
I prayed for him while we talked, but I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to offer him some kind of help, but I don’t have money to offer, so I kept my mouth shut. The thought that kept coming to mind was where Peter said to the lame man, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee.” (Yes, I sometimes think in King James, lol.) I kept asking God, “But what do I have that I can give him? What is the ‘such that I have?’ ”
Then, the dreaded thing happened. My friend asked me for help.
But do you know what he asked for? He asked me to tell him stories of how God has provided for me and my family. Well, that really is a “such as I have” because I have loads of stories to tell! He listened intently, and his comments after each story were things like, “God is really good.” “This is strengthening my faith.” “Now, I know God will provide for us!” “God will take care of us, even if it’s not the way we expect.”
I learned two really big things from this.
1. We NEED to share with each other, over and over, the stories of how God has worked in our lives. It’s necessary for our own faith and that of others. (More on this another time.)
2. The magnitude of the stories isn’t what matters. I have never, ever come close to suffering what my friend has suffered and is suffering. I would not have thought that my stories of what God has done for me and my family could possibly be an encouragement to him. But reminding ourselves and each other of what God has done (and therefore, what He CAN do) is like making deposits in our faith bank … it all adds up.
Here are a couple of my stories. I’ll share more in the future.
Once, when we didn’t have much food, my girls and I prayed together and asked God to provide. God had shown me early on that I needed to include my kids in my praying and not hide from them what our circumstances were, because they needed to see the answers, in order to build their faith. So we prayed. Our doorbell rang. It was a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years … with a box of food. She said that God had told her to bring it over. I remember there was bread and cheese, and I forget what else. There was also a pie. My girls (Jon wasn’t born yet) crowded behind me and when I closed the door, Lois, who was probably about 7 or so, said in wonder, “Mama, God didn’t just provide what we needed! He provided what we wanted, too!”
Another time, I prayed, “Lord, my kids are growing and I don’t have money to buy them clothes. I would be happy to sew their clothes, but I can’t even afford fabric.” Another knock at the door. A friend of mine who sews a lot said that God had told her to clean out her sewing room. She brought over bags of fabric and wanted to know if I could use them. 🙂 They were fabrics in my kids’ favorite colors. There were patterns — also in their sizes. This is my favorite part: There were some patterns pinned to fabric that had already been cut out. (Cutting the fabric is the only part of sewing I really don’t enjoy.)
When I needed to find a home for myself and my two remaining children a year ago, I was looking at run down, little apartments that were barely within my means if I worked a lot of overtime. It was depressing. One day, God told me to drive around Lake Como. Lake Como is one of my favorite areas in the Twin Cities, because I love the conservatory during the winter. The whole time, I kept saying something that has refreshed my faith over and over. I think I heard it from Joyce Meyers: “Lord, You know what I need and You know how to get it to me.” I didn’t get the sense that God was necessarily going to give us a place in that area, but simply that He wanted me to set my sights beyond the run down apartments. A week or two later, I was offered a cute Victorian for less than the apartments. The outside is somewhat run down, but the owners plan to work on it in the future, and to be honest, the outside doesn’t matter to me. The inside is GORGEOUS. And spacious. The perfect combination of new plumbing and appliances with the old, original woodwork, doorknobs and hinges. It is beyond what I could have imagined. Beyond what I believed I deserved. (Sometimes, I forget I’m a princess.)
I would like to ask you to do 2 things:
1. Could you please pray for my friend and his family? I don’t want to share his name publicly, as I don’t know if it would cause him trouble, but God will know exactly who you’re praying for. Pray for God to provide for them and protect them. But more than that, pray that God will strengthen their faith. Pray that their landlord will be blessed because of his mercy.
2. What are some of your stories about how God has taken care of you? I would love it if you share them below in the comments. We need to be strengthening each others’ faith.