There’s a box of worries in my closet. It’s part of a resolution I made when fears over the continuing pandemic, national unrest, and regular day-to-day concerns crowded in to the point that it was difficult to concentrate on anything else.
I decided to put my worries in a box. When one threatened to consume my day, I wrote it on a slip of paper and put it in the box. Once it was in there, I worked to train my mind to give it no more attention.
The plan actually worked, to varying degrees depending on the day and the worry. By taking 2 Corinthians 10:5 literally and taking troubling thoughts captive, I found I worried less and focused more on things I could control. I stewed less because I took action.
More recently, though, I’ve been reminded the worry box isn’t foolproof. Some fears are too big to fit. Recently a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Tennessee, killing one shopper and injuring several others before taking his own life. The store is in the suburb where my parents live, and my mom had been shopping there less than two hours before the shooting.
In the few days I’ve known how close she was to being part of that tragedy, I can’t shake that old feeling of fear threatening to overwhelm me. The hardest part is that there’s no clear action to take. Stewing and spinning is even easier to fall into when there’s no list of steps to alleviate the fears.
Thankfully, Scripture offers plenty of counsel for those of us who fear. Along with many encouragements to “fear not” and “do not worry,” there are specific reminders that God is a rescuer (Psalm 34:4) and mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17). He is trustworthy, able to handle our fears (Psalm 56:3-4). He is with us (Isaiah 41:10).
There are action verbs too. Cast your cares on God, Peter urged early Christians, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Don’t worry about anything, Paul writes, but present your requests to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6). Perfect love drives out fear, John says (1 John 4:18).
Fear can be paralyzing. Worry can box us in. But God doesn’t intend fear of man or earthly circumstances to consume. When I am afraid, I will trust in him, the psalmist says. I will too.
Meredith Day Flynn is a wife and mother of two living in Springfield. She writes on the intersection of faith, family, and current culture.