Her tired eyes, hopeless look, and unsuccessful attempt at a smile spoke volumes. As I immediately put everything I was doing aside and sat down to listen, her story came tumbling out. Some unexpectedly difficult quizzes, an unfairly graded paper, and an irascible professor had combined forces to bring about a lower-than-desired grade in one of her classes. As has been the case throughout my daughter’s nursing school experience, every point matters; a low enough grade could mean not only retaking a class, but having to repeat an entire semester. As she stared this potential setback directly in the face, she felt a sense of defeat. Two sleepless nights in a row had robbed her of her usual healthy perspective and appetite (and you know a college student is in desperate straits if he/she doesn’t want to eat!).
Helpless to find words to encourage her (after all, how often does she need to hear, “Just keep studying–things will turn out OK”?), I was grateful when her Dad took over the conversation. Opening his Bible, he read to her Matthew 6:25-34:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sown nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more cloth you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Then he reminded her that she has done well keeping a balance in her life; she not only studies hard, she dedicates herself to serving God and ministering to others. He encouraged her to continue to put God first as she presses on with her studies, knowing that whatever comes to pass, God will see her through it and use it to His glory. And we, as her parents, will always be here to support her, through thick and thin.
Comforted by Jesus’ powerful promises and her father’s reassuring words, my daughter visibly relaxed, and joy once again defined her countenance. God did indeed use her difficult circumstances to His glory just a few days later, when she had the opportunity to share these precious promises of Matthew 6 with a similarly stressed-out friend. And, with subsequent assignments and continued hard work, the grade in her difficult class has crept back up to a comfortable level.
This powerful reminder to trust God, rather than living in a state of fear, resonated not only with my daughter that day, but also with her mother. For, as is too often the case in a moving year, anxiety has begun to lurk just beneath the surface of my everyday life. Along with the usual spring school and sports schedule, we are beginning to work through the sometimes-overwhelming relocation process. Matthew 6:25-34 challenges me to put my effort into seeking and serving God in the time we have left here, instead of wasting energy worrying about life’s details. He knows what we need before we even ask, so why should I be anxious, asking, “Where exactly will we live? What items do I need to donate/sell to make this move easier? What would be the best pack-out date? When should we ship our vehicles? Who will be our new friends? How am I ever going to get it all done??”
Oh Lord, may I continually seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, and rest peacefully in the knowledge that You will provide for all of the other details of life.