Do not worry about anything but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace that passes all understanding shall guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:6-7
Haven’t we all heard this verse from childhood? “Don’t worry, everything will be alright, just give it to the Lord and He will work it all out.” This is so much easier said than done.
Several years ago our family faced a situation that was life threatening for one of our daughters. Our youngest daughter Sarah was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease of the digestive system. The disease tricks your body into thinking that it is sick and the white blood cells attack the point of weakness. In this case it was Sarah’s colon. She grew weaker and weaker, unable to eat and unable to maintain any nutrients in her body. We watched helplessly as she wasted away to 78 pounds, bent over double in pain.
Over the months we were told by a plethora of physicians and specialists that the only cure was to remove her colon. Our daughter was 22 years old. We consented to the surgery, knowing we had exhausted every medication and treatment. Sarah was to have a colostomy which meant she would wear a bag on her side attached to the stump of her colon that was routed outside of her tiny body. This was to be the situation until she could have reconstructive surgery, and even that was an uncertainty.
The day that Sarah’s colon was removed, our daughter Annah came to visit and offered to stay with Sarah through the night so my husband and I could get some much needed rest. We were both exhausted and welcomed a night in our own bed. Early the next morning we entered Sarah’s room to discover she was not there. Upon inquiry we learned that Sarah’s body, in its weakened state had gone through so much trauma that her heart was having a hard time keeping up with her physical needs. She lay in Cardiac ICU with wires and electrodes, IV’s and monitors attached to her frail frame. She appeared to be swallowed up by the mass of machines.
I could hardly bear to look at my baby girl. Her major in college was theater arts. My Broadway bound starlet, full of life and song and dance. What had happened and how did it get this bad? I sat alone in the waiting area. I prayed and asked God to heal her; to let her live and to be our Great Physician. Friends and family came to pray and speak a word of encouragement, all which sounded like a slick door-to door salesman’s spell. Just enough truth to get you to buy! But I wasn’t buying it. I was consumed with worry and began to wonder who would perform Sarah’s funeral, for I knew her Dad could not withstand the sorrow. In an hour of desperation I cried out to God in the hospital chapel. I prayed the only prayer I could muster. “Please God, help me. Heal Sarah. Don’t let her die. Show me the way!”
Our God is faithful. I think he must long to hear those prayers that admit we are poor in spirit, totally broken, admitting He is our only hope. Those prayers that acknowledge He is the Potter and we are the clay. The prayers that remind us, He is holy and we are but dust. Prayers that admit, without You God, I don’t have a chance. Prayers of faith and prayers of abandonment of anything I might bring to the table. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me within my inner being.
“Turn your worry into worship.”
“Tell me why you love Me.”
Out of desperation and obedience, I began to sing; very softly at first, but then louder and more boldly. I sang every praise song I could think of in that chapel. The words reverberated back to me. “It is Well With My Soul.” “How Great Thou Art.” “Shout to the Lord.” “Come, Now Is The Time To Worship You.” The list went on until I could think of no more songs. Then I began quoting scripture. I reminded the Lord that He promised to be with me. I begged for His grace and mercy on Sarah and told Him that He was able to do beyond what I could even think or imagine to ask.
Eventually my prayer moved from what I wanted to what God wanted to work out in my life. I thought of Abraham willingly laying his son on the altar of sacrifice; Joseph spending years in prison, wrongfully accused so that he could save his people. I remembered Rahab who put her own life in danger to rescue the spies; Noah who built an ark when no one had seen rain for the first time. All these acts of faith had a questionable beginning and a noble end. Did God just want me to surrender to His will without knowing the outcome? I continued to pray, “Thy will be done,” with a pure heart, bereft of reservations, fully aware that God was in control. I was at peace and I was worshipping God.
Sarah recovered and was able to have reconstructive surgery. She continues to battle with her disease and always will. But through that time, which was in many ways a watershed moment of my faith, I learned that in worship there is peace. God did not design us to carry our own burdens. He is the great burden bearer and He tells us with great deliberation, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
I have learned that in worship there is release and that in Him all things are made new. I have learned, as my grandmother used to say, “Worrying is like a rocking chair… it just gives you something to do, but you don’t go anywhere!” Worry is a sin. Worry places us on the throne of control and makes us think we are in charge. God, on the other hand, is LORD and in that we can rest!
Spend some time in worship today. Praise the Lord for all that He is and thank Him for all that He has done for you and given you. And then just sing to Him and rest in His peace.
Lord we praise You and all that You are. You are the Lord of lords and the King of kings, the one and only True God, our Savior, Provider, Counselor and Friend. You are our all in all and we love You and Praise Your Mighty Name. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.