When Jim and I married, he joined the Army Reserves and, as a registered pharmacist, he was assigned to the Medical Service Corps. After 25 years of routine monthly meetings and after Jim finally qualified for army retirement, we were not prepared for what happened.
Preparing for War
In October 1990, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm, and that meant war! I still remember holding my breath as President George H. Bush addressed the nation on television and spoke the words our family dreaded. He was authorizing the call-up of reservists!
Jim’s unit began to prepare for the possibility of going to war. And that Thanksgiving our family went away for four days together because Jim had been told he should plan to be in Saudi Arabia...before Christmas.
Soon all of the medical units on the West Coast were in Saudi Arabia except Jim’s. His would be next. That meant that Jim’s duffel bag was packed and by the door. He was issued a gas mask and trained extensively on how to use it. He was instructed to update his insurance forms and his will.
Needless to say, the months between October and March were an emotional roller coaster ride for me! Every day I struggled with the emotions that came with not knowing what the future held for Jim and me and our girls.
Fear, anxiety, uncertainty—I had to cope with these emotions daily. The practical issues of life—managing schedules, a household, work, and family responsibilities—were challenge enough. But harder for me was managing emotions.
For most of us, our family members are our greatest concern. We worry about our spouses and children, about nurturing our marriage and family relationships, about caring for aging parents. Another emotionally charged area is finances as we worry about layoffs, salary cuts, and growing families. What can we do with these realities that drain our emotions?
We can use Christ’s truth and guidance: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 ) During the Persian Gulf War, anxiety was pressing in on me from every direction, and all I had was this command from Christ. And, beloved, I learned that it was all I needed...because it pointed me to Him.
Jesus commands us not to worry about tomorrow and calls us to handle our emotions...one day at a time. So I applied this verse and five principles—prepare, plan, pray, proceed, and trust God’s provision—to my raging emotions.
Five Practical Principles
Prepare—Jim and I cut our budget. We stopped using credit cards and stopped making major purchases. He met with mortgage company officials and our daughters’ college to check on their tuition policy for activated military parents.
Plan—Jim talked to our daughters about what his deployment and even his possible death would mean for them. Jim and I also discussed every option and step if he didn’t come back.
Pray—Like never before, Jim and I prayed.
Proceed—My dear reading friend, peace came only as I followed the wisdom of Matthew 6:34. As I proceeded through those six months, I fought to keep my thoughts and feelings focused to one day at a time.
Provision—I witnessed God’s provision for me—His presence with me and His work in my life—as I proceeded, by His grace, one day at a time.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 how to make our way through trying times—“Do not worry about tomorrow.” Let this verse set boundaries for your thoughts. Choose not to speculate on the future because God isn’t asking us to handle our entire life all at once. Instead, His wisdom tells us to limit our thoughts to today, to what was real right now, to His peace and sovereignty. And that is a comfort in every season.
Lord, may all my behaviors reflect my desire to grow in Your wisdom. When I feel the old behaviors rise up, give me the self-control to resist them. I have Your Word to steady my reactions and emotions. Help me grow into a lovely woman of God. Amen.
A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices by Elizabeth George — You’ll love the hundreds of helpful tips and biblical insights all designed to help you experience greater productivity and spiritual blessing. Shop now for your copy of this women’s Bible Study and study guide.
Put these five principles—prepare, plan, pray, proceed, and trust God’s provision—to help manage your emotions.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:34 how to make our way through trying times—“Do not worry about tomorrow.” Let this verse set boundaries for your thoughts.