I never realized how much of a worrier I was until I had children. Being a parent seems to magnify the sins we already struggle with and in the case of worry, having children brought that hidden sin out into the light, revealing to me how much my heart focused on all those ‘what ifs’ of life.
It seems like the first five years of my son’s life were spent in and out of doctor’s offices. With one infection after another, he was always on antibiotics. And then there were the frequent asthma attacks followed by rounds of steroids. I spent my nights awake, listening to him cough and wondering if he would ever get better. After seeing multiple specialists, he ended up having surgery. Followed by a second one. Watching your child being wheeled into a place where you can’t follow brings a kind of worry and fear unlike any other.
For many Christians, we consider worry one of those ‘acceptable sins.’ It is something we know we shouldn’t do, like gossip, but we tend to permit it in our lives because it seems so normal. Everyone worries, right? And if a parent doesn’t worry about their children, what kind of parent are they?
Yet God’s word admonishes us not to worry. Jesus preached an entire sermon on it in Matthew 6. So what’s a parent who worries to do?
1. Remember the gospel: We tend to be future thinkers, dwelling on all the ‘what if’s’ and worst case scenarios that could happen in life. The truth is, the absolute worst thing that could happen has been taken care of by Christ at the cross. The greatest fear we could ever face is eternity apart from God. When Christ bore our sins, he took that punishment for us. He redeemed us so that we could be free from the power of sin. Through faith in Christ, we have the certainty of eternity forever with him in a place where there will be no more worries or fears. And because God went to such great lengths to purchase our redemption, Paul asks in Romans, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (8:32).
2. Remember your status: Imagine one day, finding your son or daughter curled up in the corner of their room, crying. You ask what is wrong and hear, “I’m worried that you will forget to feed me today.” Can you imagine that? Seems crazy, doesn’t it? Because Christ has freed us from sin and purchased our salvation, we are adopted children of our Heavenly Father. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:25-34 that if God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers in the field, how much more important are we to him than they are? In fact, God the Father, loves us as much as he loves the Son (John 17:23). As beloved children of the Father, we have full access to the throne of grace and can come before him, crying “Abba, Father” and find the grace to help us in our time of need (see Hebrews 4:16).
3. Remember to pray: Paul says to all chronic worriers, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Worriers are to be people of prayer. We need to bring all our cares to God in prayer and in return Paul tells us, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
My dear worrier friends, when things happen in your children’s life that bring you great worry, remember the cross. Remember what lengths God went to in saving you. Remember who you are and what it means to be God’s Beloved. And come before the throne, laying your worries before him in prayer.