I’ve been working through an anxiety curriculum with some friends. During one lesson, the speaker—an abrupt, fast-talking woman—hit us with this rhetorical question: “Is there anything you can do about that (that being the thing worrying us)?” She hit us again: “Then why are you worrying about it?”
She moved quickly on. But I keep thinking of her questions because her blunt challenge offers a freeing truth: Most of the things I worry over I can do absolutely nothing about.
My guts churn with apprehension about situations too weighty for me to affect in any way, but especially with my weightless worrying. Seriously. By turning things over in my brain in the middle of the night, “What if this? What if that?” I only impact myself; I turn myself into a hot mess. Meanwhile, NOTHING happens in the real world to change anything I care about.
Still, I do it. And I was worrying the other night, tossing about in bed, anxious, praying, and unable to sleep.
Then I had an image come to mind. The Lord my Father stood near me with a big, dad-sized backpack. I saw myself as a small child, holding a miniature, kid-sized backpack. It was as if He said to me, “Anything you can do nothing about is too heavy for you, too big for your backpack. Those things go in my backpack.
And, “Anything you can change, affect, or do something about goes in your backpack.”
He invited me to understand that everything that weighs me down with painful anxiety, or makes me feel helplessly overwhelmed, belongs in His backpack. My anxiousness, then, signals me that I need to transfer a burden to His big shoulders. I am not designed to carry such heavy loads; I crack apart when I try. Anxiety is my “this is too heavy” clue.
But some things do fit in my backpack. The other night, I found in my small sack the question, “How are you going to respond to this situation?” Deciding how I would respond was my responsibility.
Everything else—the BIG things—the future, other people’s choices, my loved ones’ safety and well-being—belonged in His.
We’ve been studying 1 Peter this summer, and toward the end of the book, Peter tells us, “cast your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you,” 1 Peter 4:7.
I picture this as taking my BIG concerns, the ones I can do nothing about, and slipping them into His enormous backpack. David praised God for His willingness to help us with our burdens: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens,” (Psalm 68:19).
He is strong enough not only to carry my BIG concerns, but to do something about them. Thank God! Jeremiah sighed in recognition of this, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you,” Jeremiah 32:17.
* * A Guide for Prayer* *
Picture yourself with Lord: He is the Father; you are His child. What are you carrying that is too heavy for you? Do you have burdens in your backpack that feel so heavy they could crush you?
The Lord says, “Cast your anxieties on me. I care for you. I will bear the things that are too heavy for you—every day. Nothing is too difficult for me.”
Picture yourself placing those worries in His big backpack. Allow the weight, the responsibility, for those things to rise off your shoulders and settle onto His. As you do this, ask Him to take care of the things you can do nothing about. Take the time to say to Him, “I trust You with . . .”
Next, open your backpack. What do you see in there? Is there something the Lord is asking you to do or to change?
If a child pulled something out of his or her backpack—a new flashlight or a snack with a tricky lid—and needed help with it, that would be okay, right? In the same way, we can ask God to help us with the things we carry. Take time to ask God for any help you need to take care of the things He has entrusted to you.
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:5-7.