Pheodora wondered if God saw her as “one grain of sand on a vast shore, one point of light in an endless constellation?” After all, God was very busy watching over her nation, and that alone must be a big enough worry. Her country lost its independence long before she was born.
The wife of a shepherd imprisoned until a large debt is paid off, Pheodora has troubles of her own to worry about. And she wonders if she is being selfish for wanting to know that God really cares about her. If Pheodora is being selfish, there is a long list of selfish people who wonder the same thing.
Don’t you have similar thoughts when things are not going well?
I realize that the difficulties I face most days pale compared to the challenges demanding Pheodora’s attention. As a mother caring for four daughters while trying to plot a way forward, I can’t imagine how she deals with it all. And I know that others face more daunting challenges.
Cyndi and I watch ABC World News Tonight, hosted by David Muir, almost every night. I can pick any given summary of the day’s news and find people facing considerably more turmoil, upheaval, catastrophe, and challenges than we face.
For example, 20 people were killed and 126 injured in 22 mass shootings in 12 hours as the 4th of July Holiday evening celebrations began. But the stories didn’t stop me from complaining about the fireworks going off well after midnight on behalf of our traumatized dog.
And nearly every day, communities are ransacked by storms and subsequent flooding. These stories cause me to hesitate when complaining it’s too hot, cold, or wet from our considerably milder weather.
The APA Dictionary of Psychology defines “worry” as a “state of mental distress or agitation due to concern about an impending or anticipated event, threat, or danger.” In their article, there is no qualification about whether worry is justified. And since whatever captures our attention hasn’t happened and may not occur, the outcome relies on our imagination.
Honestly, I worry a lot. And I worry that I worry a lot. My vivid imagination takes me to places I don’t want to go. I have more control when I’m awake than when trying to get back to sleep. But I’m sure my issues aren’t unique.
According to the American Psychology Association, 76% of U.S. adults complain of health impacts from stress occurring in the prior month. Reported symptoms included headaches, fatigue, nervousness or anxiety, and/or feeling depressed or sad.
Angela Hunt’s depiction of Pheodora, the youngest sister of Jesus, is primarily uninformed of her older brother’s views on worry. Living at a time before the gospels were written, Pheodora missed out on Jesus, reminding a crowd that worry doesn’t help us live longer. “Don’t worry about food or clothing,” Jesus said, “God provides for creation, and you matter a lot to God.”
In an article titled “What the Bible Says About Worrying,” the Reverend Kathy Brumbaugh suggests using the word “concerned” rather than calling our fretting over the unknown future worrying. Pastor Ka thy refers us to Peter, who advises us to cast all our cares on the Lord. (1 Peter 5:7).
So, taking the pastor’s advice, I can say that I’m concerned a lot. Now I’m concerned that too many things concern me.
There is a lot that I can’t change about circumstances. For one, I turned 70 this past week. But I do know this. What Jesus said and asked about worry makes sense.
None of us can add time to our life by worrying. Quite the opposite. Worrying reduces our quality and length of life.
Listen to me, you that want to be saved, you that come to me for help. Think of the rock from which you came, the quarry from which you were cut.
Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God tells all who want help to remember where we came from. You and I matter a lot to God. Enough that God suffered as a human, was treated as a criminal, and died a horrible death. And God did it all for you and me.
Pheodora thought, “Sometimes, in the stillness of a Sabbath afternoon, I lifted my eyes to the heavens and wondered if HaShem cared about me.” God does care about Pheodora.
And God cares about you.
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Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. The Shepherd’s Wife. Jerusalem Road Series. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2020.
Sophie Bethune. “Stress in America 2022.” © American Psychology Association, October, 2022. Retrieved from: link
Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh. “Ti What the Bible Says About Worrying tle.” © Lancaster Farms, Dec 1, 2022. Retrieved from: link