Worry is at the top of every special-needs mom’s list of struggles. We can make a list of worries for our children that goes on and on. Worries for today, tomorrow, and after we’re gone.

When we’re honest, we know worry is a sin. I once read that worry is practical atheism. It’s living as if there is no God. I don’t want to live that way! But how do I stop?

God does not want me to worry. He tells us over and over again to be strong, to give Him our burdens, to rest in His love and care for us. So how do I turn off my worries and focus on His promises? I open my Bible to Philippians 4 and find the answer. Verses 6-8 tell me what to do and how to do it:

“ … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

First, Paul writes we should not be anxious, but release our worries to God through prayer. Second, he promises God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ. Third, we are to evaluate our thoughts and worries by asking if they are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. If they aren’t, we should replace them with thoughts that are.

Here’s how this practically works in my life. It’s 11:46 at night and I can’t stop tossing and turning. James (my son who has autism) had a tough day. I’m worried he will grow more frustrated since he can’t communicate what he wants. I worry about how people will treat him when he’s a big twenty-year-old-man who can’t speak instead of a cute ten-year-old boy. And what if I get sick and can’t take care of him when he’s twenty and bigger than I am?

When I realize I’ve reached the worrying stage, I mentally go through this passage from Philippians. I release my worry to God through prayer. I focus on calming my body and mind by focuses on His peace. Then I replace the negative thoughts with ones that are true and worthy of praise.

“God, I’m worried about James’s future. You invite me to turn my worry over to You. You will settle my restless mind with Your peace. Instead of worrying, help me to replace my thoughts with what I know is true: You love James (Romans 8:36-39). You have a plan for His future (Jeremiah 29:11). You will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Thank you for your care for us! ‘In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety’ (Psalm 4:8).”

Another way I combat against worry is to remember what He has done in my life. When I look back on times I worried and see how He worked those situations out, I can trust Him with my future. I’m in the middle of a worrisome situation right now. We moved from Pennsylvania to Texas last year and the services James is getting now are not comparable to what he got in Pennsylvania. I’m seeing regressions. But instead of worrying, I remember we didn’t get to the level of services we had for James over night. We prayed for doctors and we found them. We needed therapists and He provided. We couldn’t afford what we thought James needed, but God used circumstances to work together for our good. When my mind starts down that negative path, I remind myself of the truth and what we’ve seen God do in the past. Why would I doubt He would work things out for His purpose in the current situation?

I know it isn’t easy to stop worrying, but I believe when we understand how offensive it is to God and how much He wants us to live in faith, we can break the pattern of worry. Trust in His providence for your life and the lives of your children. Submit to His will and rest easy.

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