My assistant recently organized some of my old files, and she brought me this excerpt of a pastor column I wrote nearly 30 years ago:
“I’ll admit it. I’m a worrier. I worry about today. I worry about tomorrow. I worry about money. I worry about friends. I worry about my reputation. I worry about the safety of my wife and children. And if I’m not worried, I start to worry that I have forgotten what it is I should be worrying about.
The crazy thing is, I know I was worrying about something this time last year, but I can’t remember now what it was. What I’m thankful to realize is that the Lord faithfully saw me through whatever last year’s ‘worry’ was. All of my worrying probably hurt a lot more than it helped, but the Lord helped me through it all, in spite of myself. And what’s even crazier is, this time next year, I probably won’t be able to remember whatever the current “crisis” is I am worrying about today.
The real solution is to ‘be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).’”
(Nearly) 30 Years Later
I’m in a far different stage of life today than I was when I wrote that column. At the time our youngest child wasn’t quite 4 years old, and today Sue and I have 21 grandchildren. I wasn’t even a dean yet, and now I’ve been a university president for more than 20 years. There was no such thing as Google, Facebook, or smartphones 30 years ago, and I certainly didn’t think we would see artificial intelligence like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri in our homes and cars. Today the world is faster and has even more opportunities for stress and worry.
Prayer is still the solution.
But the solution I gave 30 years ago has not changed. It’s the solution Paul gave nearly 2,000 years ago. Pray. Thank God for what you have. Ask him for what you need. Trust him with your life. His peace, which is beyond anything we can understand or conjure on our own, will guard our hearts and minds.
What are you worried about today? Will it be a problem next week? Will you even remember it next year or in 30 years? Give it to God.
My Challenge to Young Adults
I’m trying to specifically address young adults in each of my blogs this semester. As a university president and author of young adult fantasy books, I care deeply for these early stages of life and how people are formed by the habits and beliefs they develop when they’re young.
So college and high school students –
- Develop a consistent prayer life now. Learn to talk to God personally. I cannot stress this enough. Learn to pray.
- Now is when you learn to handle stress and set priorities. Get organized, do the work you are given to do today, and leave tomorrow in God’s hands.
One last important note about anxiety: in this blog, I’m not talking about anxiety and depression, which are spreading rapidly across college campuses and debilitating students. A huge difference exists between worrying about next week’s test and suffering from anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, please get professional help, and also pray.
We will always find a reason to stress and worry, and the solution will always be the same. Pray.