by Becky Karnsund
Like the roots of a weed that silently spread to a once healthy garden, I often allow worry to take hold in my heart.
A few years ago, an atheist friend asked me how I was and my stress showed it’s ugly face as it poured out of my tired heart. At the time, Pontus was being paid only part time, we had been homeless for a few months, we had gone through all our savings, and our family was experiencing debt for the first time ever. My dad had cancer, my son had an ear surgery, I was trying to figure schooling out, the church we were leading was going through turmoil, I was going through culture shock, and the stress was taking such a physical toll on me that I ended up in the ER with chest pains.
When I was finished sharing my woes, I thought I'd get some sympathy. Instead she asked: “Why are you worrying? Isn't your God supposed to take care of you?” I sheepishly agreed. If I truly believed what I had been telling her about my God, wouldn’t I trust him to take care of me?
Today after another year of unknowns and change, I continue to fight moments of worry. Just last week Pontus got hives the doctor could not pin point, similar to what his skin was doing before he came down with meningo-encephalitis. Every night I wondered if I would wake up to him not being able to talk or walk again. Then today we were faced with the news that there is a chance we could lose the once approved loan on a house we are hoping to purchase. That wouldn't be that big of a deal except for the fact that the date is already set to move out of our rental and other people are moving in here. So if that were to happen, in two weeks we will have nowhere to live.
There are always “WHAT IFs” in life, many opportunities to worry, but it enslaves, enchains, debilitates, causes us to not think straight and lose our way. It raises our blood pressure, increases blood clotting, wears on our liver, causes muscle tension, headaches, stomach acid, intestinal issues, and lower our immune system.
That's not the freedom God has planned for us. I believe he has so much more in store for us that we haven't grasped yet, a joy we don't access due to fear.
Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step." Joni Erickson Tada
1. I want to remember to take control of my thoughts:
My mind can easily take over and run into a dark fantasy land, planning funerals that aren't needed, preparing beds under bridges, mourning imaginary losses, or organizing treatments for a cancer that doesn't exist. The apostle Paul in the Bible reminds me "to be transformed by the renewing of my mind" (Romans 12:2) and take control of my wandering thoughts to stay on “whatever is true, whatever is right, and whatever is pure" (Philippians 4:8). Like a sailboat that goes adrift if I don't steer it. my thoughts can get lost and be destructive if I don't take action and make them constructive.
2. I want to remember that sin takes peace away:
There’s no way around it. When Adam and Eve chose to sin, the peace and joy they had with God was broken. They immediately hid and were scared. My first action should be to remember to search my heart and ask God to bring to light anything that is between us. I believe it's impossible for me to find true peace when there is sin between me and the Prince of Peace.
3. I want to remember that God is with me:
He doesn’t promise a painless life, but he promises to be there with me, providing strength and comfort. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). The stories are endless of people that have experienced their favorite moments through the worst of times, just because that is when they felt God's presence.
4. I want to remember that God wants the best for me:
When I face scary events I don't understand at the time, what would my worry look like if I truly believed God’s intentions for me are good? What I dedicated the energy of worrying to push through the challenge I face?
5. I want to remember that God = peace:
Just as the fruit of an orange tree is an orange, a fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace (Galatians 5:22). If I am not experiencing peace, I need to ask myself if I’ve drifted away. The source of all peace, promises: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (Jesus in John 14:27). Am I close enough to him to feel that? Jesus also said: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest" (Matthew 11:28).
6. I want to remember to replace worry with thanks:
Habits are hard to cut out of our lives without replacing them with something else. The Bible reminds us to first give the worry to God, and then replace it with thanks: “Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Then, the peace of God, which goes beyond all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The times I've tried to focus on what I have to be thankful for, I forget to worry.
7. I want to remember to take care of my health:
Science has confirmed that sugar can increase stress, lack of potassium can increase blood pressure, dehydration can cause palpitations and lack of sleep increases anxiety disorders. Many physical problems can cause or increase feelings of stress and make the face of worry look much bigger than it is.
8. I want to remember to get to know God:
I believe that the more we get to know someone trustworthy, the more we will trust them. God tells us to "be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I love watching my kids sit back in the car and enjoy the view while I drive. They are not worried. They trust me, because they know me. The driver of my life is the God of the universe; holy, good, perfect, all powerful, all knowing, ever present, gentle, slow to anger, patient, loving, and personal. But instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride, I tense up, question him, look at the wheel, and often miss the beauty around me; I miss that relationship God longs to have with me through the storm.
Pontus and Becky Karnsund have four children ages 11-16. Pontus was born and raised in Sweden and Becky was born and raised in Spain (American parents). They met in Mexico, got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower, married in Spain, and moved to Sweden where Pontus completed his Masters degree in theology. After Sweden, they lived in Spain for 6 years, then transferred over to Arizona for 7 years, where Pontus was involved in pastoring, church plant training, and church consulting. In 2016 they moved to Holly Springs, North Carolina, to start a new church.
Pontus & Becky Karnsund
PO Box 756
Holly Springs, NC 27540
We write not because we think we are good writers, but because we want to share with you a journey God has us on. We write not to point to us, but to the amazing, merciful, good, and gracious Father we all have access to through Jesus.