Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

James 1:2-3

“I can’t believe I defeated my fear”…….

…….my six-year-old grandson Asa exclaimed with pride after jumping into the cold pool and swimming for the swim team coach.  To Asa, this rather minor challenge represented a major test, one his family hopes will translate to the start of more breakthroughs for their athletic son.

Sadly, Asa’s anxiety returned in full force on the first day of practice this week.

Asa entered life having to climb uphill right at birth. He was born with gastroschisis, an abdominal birth defect that resulted in his intestines forming completely outside of his body. He was resuscitated at birth and airlifted to an area NICU where Peter and Alisa first met their tiny son. For several weeks, they remained by his protective isolette, watching him struggle while longing to hold and comfort him.
Today Asa is a healthy-rambunctious-six-year-old boy with amazing strengths and talents but when faced with something a bit frightening, anxiety tends to grip him and hold him back. I wonder if his first weeks of struggle and pain contribute to his anxiousness today. Yet, I believe that even these early experiences are intended by God to prepare him for his future.
Asa’s name means healer or physician. Perhaps someday, he will lead others to freedom from their anxieties as he learns to get past them himself. Whatever his future holds, learning to face his fears is something he must do in order to become steadfast.

As adults, we can be gripped by fear as well.

We all have plenty to grab onto and worry over. Right?  Life, in many ways, is a journey through various challenges that can either refine our faith and make us stronger, or debilitate and sideline us. Like Asa, fear and anxiety can hold us back from the very experiences God has in mind for us. It’s a daily choice we make to either hold tightly to our worries by ruminating and fretting over them – or to turn them over to Jesus who said, “my yoke is year and my burden is light.”
I went to bed one evening this week troubled by many things, but thankfully, I woke to reciting Philippians 4:4-6: Rejoice in the Lord always….do not be anxious about anything….instead pray with thanksgiving ….and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

It’s clear. 

We are commanded, by God not to worry!  Instead we are to count all of our trials as joy and pray with thankful hearts. Even our challenges are meant for our good.

It’s been a year of challenge within the Veritas school community. 

We face an imminent move to our new campus which is a major change – and any change has a way of causing angst in all of us. At the same time, some members in our community are dealing with major illnesses and others with major injuries. Still others face financial concerns. It’s easy, during troubling times to focus on the issues at hand – to somehow think that fretting will make a difference. Worry does not mean we care more however or that we have more control over the outcomes.
Worry does nothing but cause an anxious heart.

One mom at school recently wrote this to me…

”I have had days of discouragement and heaviness lately but I’m also learning to immediately turn it all over to Him.  Honestly, it feels a little strange at times to not carry around the weight of it, but releasing it to Him and turning it over in prayer has been a good practice for me.  He is definitely strong in my weakness.

This would be a good practice for each and everyone of us.

My prayer for Asa is that he will defeat his 6-year-old fears and grow up into a man of God who courageously, with faith, faces his adult challenges.
My prayer for you and me is that we also face our challenges with courage and gratitude, joyfully anticipating what God will do on our behalf. Let’s praise God amid our challenges and “give thanks IN all circumstances.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Let’s model a vibrant faith to our kids and point them to Jesus who can be their strength as well.