by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
This Christmas, if the past is any indication, dolls will be a popular gift. Many of these dolls will be given to young girls, but many more will be for adults. Some of these will probably be what are known as “worry dolls.” According to a legend among the Highland Indian villages of Guatemala, you’re supposed to tell one of your worries to each “worry doll” before you go to sleep, and then put the dolls under your pillow, where they will do your worrying for you. In recent years, these dolls have grown in popularity, not unlike Native American “dream catchers,” that are supposed to prevent bad dreams.
The promise that someone else will do our worrying for us is a tempting one. And we’re all vulnerable to worry. I’m the last one who should be criticizing anyone else for worrying; I do more than my share. The notion of a “worry doll” has an undeniable appeal. Even if the doll does nothing, just “unburdening” yourself might be therapeutic. But although this may sound like a good idea, for those of us who are Christians, there is another, better way.
The Psalmist wrote, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psa.55:22 NIV). If we need someone to deal with our worries for us, we have God. Peter echoed this sentiment when he wrote “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7 NIV). Throughout the years, God has cared for us, and wants us to give over our worries and concerns. And even if we do, God doesn’t worry; God is in control of everything, so God doesn’t need to worry. But if you’re anything like me, it’s hard to let go of your worries. You want to hold on to them and keep them handy, where you can get at them.
Jesus compared his earliest followers to “the birds of the air” and “the lilies of the field” (Matt. 6:25-34). He challenged them and us, “‘If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?’” (Matt. 6:30 NIV). A God who could create the entire universe with a word can surely help us deal with any problem. With a God like that, we shouldn’t have worries at all, but when we do, God forgives our lack of faith and takes our burdens from us. All we have to do is ask. Jesus clearly tells us what our priorities should be: “‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’” (Matt. 6:33 NIV).
We can’t find relief in something we have made. We can only find peace through God. If we could solve all our problems ourselves, we wouldn’t need God, and we wouldn’t need a savior. But we do, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-24 NIV). If we turn to material things like dolls for solace, we commit idolatry (Hab. 2:18-20), as surely as the Israelites did when they chose a golden calf of their own making instead of the living God (Exod. 32:1-8). Jeremiah wrote, “‘But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’” (Jer. 17:7-8 NIV). If we are faithful, we have no need to fear, for God will sustain us and make us fruitful.
If you’re worried, or if you know someone who is, “. . . we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16b NIV). God knows our hearts, our troubles, and our worries. God sent us Jesus, not a doll of worry but a child of hope, a real baby, who became a real savior. God wants us to give up our worries and accept Christ, God’s “Christmas present” to the world.
“‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” (Matt. 6:28-34 NIV.)
Copyright © 2003 by David Phelps