“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”(1 Peter 5:7, NLT)
Over the years, I have often talked about worries, dedicating several sermons to the topic and encouraging many people to give and fully surrender their worries, cares, and troubles to God. In the course of these discussions, I have found the following illustration by Spurgeon to be particularly illuminating.
One day, he came upon a group of boys playing in a courtyard, trying to throw a small ball into an attic window. As he watched, they missed the window over and over—but they never gave up. They kept on trying until the ball finally hit its mark, going through the window and into the attic. Only then did they move on.
This shows us what to do with our worries: throw them to God. The act of throwing involves letting go, but if our worries nonetheless fall back down into our hearts, we can throw them towards God, again and again, until we win a full victory and our hearts can rest in God, at peace through a child-like faith.
Before the experience occurred that I am sharing here, I had frequently had the opportunity to put this truth to the test. However, our heavenly Father knows our hearts, and He knows how important it is for us to regularly experience the biblical truths for ourselves. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7). When disaster strikes, how strong is our faith really? What goes through our minds, and what happens to our feelings? Are we truly quiet and confident in God (Isaiah 30:15)? Can we calm the storm of our fears and emotions through the grace of faith in God?
Rarely have I had to practice this so intensively as on September 9, 2019. On this warm, sunny day, we were touring Lisbon, Portugal, on a double-decker bus. I was sitting on the upper deck, camera in hand, taking in the city’s many impressive sights. With only my camera bag, car keys, smartphone, and wallet on me, I had gotten into the habit of checking once in a while to see if I still had all my things. When the bus made a stop at lunchtime, I got off. As it pulled away and around a corner, I made my routine check to make sure everything was still there. Everything was—except my wallet. Apart from some cash, it also contained my ID, drivers license, credit cards, and the like. I went through all my pockets and even the camera bag, but it was not there. I asked my wife if I had maybe given her the wallet, but she did not have it either. At this point, I had already been calling out to God for some time. Losing all personal documents abroad is a big problem. I felt weak in the knees.
I collected my thoughts and prayed to God, saying, “Lord, I urgently need your angels to watch over my wallet. I don’t know where it is, but I really need it, and it would be so easy for You to bring back to me what I’ve lost.” I paused and directed my thoughts inward, trying to strengthen my faith in God’s promises.
Since I was sure that the wallet had accidentally fallen out of my pocket, we told a bus driver from the same company what had happened, and he passed word of our search to the driver of our original bus. We were assured that he would look for the wallet at the end of the line and were advised to check with the head office in the evening to see if the wallet had been found.
Despite the shining sun, I felt a fierce storm raging in my heart and mind. My thoughts were racing, desperately seeking a rational solution, when I suddenly heard a quiet voice saying, “You prayed and gave everything over to God. Why are you so anxious and troubled? You preach to others and encourage them to trust in God, but what is it you’re doing now?” I felt very clearly that God was trying to teach me a special lesson.
He revealed to me not only the promises of His Word but also my weak, human heart, and my fears and worries, and my stubborn struggling. It was so unbelievably hard not to be able to do anything. God spoke to me several times, encouraging me to be still and trust in Him, and I would manage for a while before giving way to anxious thoughts and feelings.
This all took over three hours. That can be a very long time, and God used it to build up the pressure on me in other ways as well. When He saw that I had learned my lesson, I absentmindedly reached into my camera bag. There, in an inside pocket I had earlier overlooked, my hand suddenly brushed against my wallet. I am sure everyone can imagine the feelings coursing through me at that moment.
It is very important to God that His children trust Him. He needs their trust to be unconditional, no matter how bleak the situation may appear. Our Father is the almighty, omniscient God. None of our problems are too great, too messy, or too complex for Him—nothing is. When our imagination reaches its limits, and we cannot conceive of any possible solution to our problem, we enter a realm where God can demonstrate His might, wisdom, and glory.
It is good to trust in the Lord. Our best and healthiest option is to throw all our worries to God—and to let go. Throw your worries to God as often as it takes for your heart to become still in His hands and for you to completely surrender your problem or crisis to God, and don’t forget to be patient with yourself. After all, you are only human, with human feelings and human thoughts. God knows this and will be very patient with you. Finally, remember that our heavenly Teacher sometimes sends us problems because that is what His lesson plan calls for; if we take the lesson to heart, God’s blessings will become evident in our spiritual growth.
“O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1).