Any anxious thoughts today?

Any anxious thoughts today?

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. (1 Peter 5:6-9a)

As I listen to the K-5th grade kids that gather at Chapel Hill each week, it is easy to notice that worry, anxiety, and cares are a larger part of their thoughts than they should have at this age. Why are so many young minds filled with worry and anxieties? Did COVID contribute? Are parents transferring their own anxieties onto their children? Are peers feeding anxious words to each other? I wonder.

I find that recuring thoughts in these young minds seem to spiral around some lies that kids are telling themselves: “I am not safe”, “I’m going to miss out”, “I can’t do this”, “I don’t have control”, “It’s all in my head”, “I should just ignore it”, “I can do this on my own.” “I don’t need help.” Oh, and by the way, I also realize that these particular lies are ones that even grown-ups tell themselves.

The Bible is full of people facing similar lying thoughts. God is constantly telling them…“O taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who trusts and takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

As we go through any given day, we may encounter many things that can make us anxious. It usually starts with a thought and spirals down from there. If we don’t stay alert, anxious thoughts and feelings can slip into our day without even noticing. We then suddenly wonder why we started to feel worry or anxiety. How much better it would be though to catch worry before it takes hold of me. As followers of Jesus how can we help our kids work through these thoughts? Living in a relationship with Jesus we should give our worries and cares to Him regularly. Let’s help our kids minds move away from these lies and toward thoughts that bring comfort, rest and peace. Let’s together spiral up instead of down as we say these various things to the kids in our lives:

  1. Think about the power and the goodness of the Lord right now.
  2. Remind yourself of what is true.
  3. Ask, “How can I INVITE GOD into this situation?”
  4. Ask, “How can I TRUST GOD right now?”
  5. Ask, “What is a way I can feel safe with God?”
  6. Ask yourself, “What CAN I do?”

I think it is important for us to ask ourselves as adults: “How do I handle my own worries and cares?” If I am honest I try to handle anxieties by eating food, watching shows on TV or a variety of other distractions. Food alone makes me feel momentarily better.

The Psalmist says…“taste and see that the Lord is good” and blessed or happy is a person who “trusts and takes refuge in him”. We can choose to take refuge in him whenever worry and anxiety become our main thoughts. As adults we should take some time to regularly talk to the kids in our lives about how God can be a place of refuge for all of us.

A refuge is a place that provides protection or shelter: a safe haven. It is something or someone that we can turn to for help, relief, or escape. Know that Jesus is one who is eager to be our Refuge, and He is with us anywhere…anytime. We do need to decide early on to look for Jesus. He is the perfect one in whom we can always find refuge. He is our shelter in the midst of life and especially during anxieties and worries. Let’s together trust him in the midst of whatever life deals us. Blessed and happy is the one who takes refuge in Jesus. We should be in the habit of exerting our will to turn to him for help. Let’s ask God like the Psalmist to: Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in you; and in the shadow of your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. (Psalm 57:1)

As the summer approaches we want to make sure that we are all helping the next generation to learn what it means to follow Jesus. As you help kids and teenagers do this well, make sure you show by example what a faith filled life can look like each day. When we trust in Jesus, we take refuge in him. Trusting him is much more than a matter of using words; it is a matter of our will. Let’s decide daily to put our trust in him as an example for those that look to us for help and strength.

Paul Hargreaves
Senior Director of Family Ministries

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