Today’s Truth

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

(James 1:5, NIV)

Friend to Friend

One Sunday afternoon, my friend, whom I’ll call Leah, called in tears over her adult children. Leah spent large sums of money, time, and tears trying to help her kids, but their reckless life choices kept her up at night stressed out and scared for their future.

Leah struggled with what I call “secondhand worry.” This happens when we suffer the effects of worry because we’re trying to carry the load that someone should be responsible and accountable for managing themselves.

If you can relate to Leah, you know that this is a difficult place to be. When we wear someone else’s worry, it can wear us out! So, how do we get out of God’s way? Do we trust that God is aware and active in the lives of loved ones who make irresponsible choices?

There are some important insights that we can learn from an incident in Joshua 9 followed by two challenging questions to determine whether or not you’re getting in God’s way in someone else’s life.

In Joshua 9, a group of worn out travelers arrive and request a meeting with the Israelite leaders. As the Israelites’ leader, Joshua inspects the delegation; he sees the patched sandals, cracked wineskins and moldy bread they are carrying. When Joshua questions the group, they tell him that they’ve been traveling a long time to make treaty with the Israelites (Joshua 9:9-13).

The answer to this request should have been denied. Years before, God instructed the Israelites not to make any treaties with foreigners because He knew that outside influences would woo the Israelites away from following God (Exodus 34:11-12).”

However, after Joshua and Israelites listened to the delegation’s story and completed their inspection, this is what happened next: “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.  Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live….” Joshua ignored God’s instructions (Joshua 9:14-15, NIV).

Soon the Israelites discovered that the Gibeonites made up their story out of fear. Rather than seek God, the Gibeonites sought out the Israelites to fix the situation for them. However, just because the Gibeonites tried to place their fate in the hands of the Israelites doesn’t mean that Joshua and the leaders had to accept responsibility for it. And the same is true for us.

It’s hard when irresponsible adults come to us with heart-breaking stories that arise of their bad decisions. Their precarious situation can quickly stress us out. Yet, bailing irresponsible adults out of their bad decisions isn’t our job. It’s our job to pray and to trust God enough to get out of His way.

Here are two questions that a counselor challenged me with when I struggled with secondhand worry:

  1. Do I need to let my loved one experience the natural consequences of their behavior?
  2. Will my help undermine their need for God?

It’s so hard to step back and watch someone experience the consequences of their bad behavior. But what if our help actually hurts them? If we’re not sure, that’s when wise, trusted voices can be helpful in figuring that out. Ultimately, we must trust that God is working in his or her life. Have you considered that you might be the reason that your prayers for their rescue haven’t been answered?

Ultimately, we want our friends and loved ones to find the same hope that we have found in Jesus alone. Remember, love is sacrificial, not suicidal. You can show love and concern without letting someone else’s worries wear you out.

Let’s Pray

Dear God, when I wear someone else’s worry, it wears me out! You are big enough for all of us, and I believe that Your promises apply to me and everyone I love and care about. Today I commit to avoid secondhand worry by keeping boundaries on my concern and trusting You through the uncertainty.

In Jesus’ Name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Today’s topic is a tender issue for many parents and spouses of struggling loved ones. Is there someone in your life that you’re trying to help, but it’s stressing you out? What do you sense or feel that God is leading you to do? List one or two trusted voices that you can talk with today.

More from the Girlfriends
Barb Roose is a speaker and author who is passionate about equipping women to win at life with Christ-empowered strength and dignity. Since 2005, Barb has been speaking to audiences in the US and abroad. She’s a Bible teacher who loves following God more than anything else in life. Barb is a real woman who has experienced depression and anxiety, parenting challenges, and family addiction trauma. Rather than teaching audiences to follow God to get what they want, Barb inspires audiences to discover that God is all they need!

She is the author of multiple books and Bible studies, including Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle.

29 Responses to “Getting Out of God’s Way”

  1. Angela says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is so hard to say no at times. Especially when young children are involved. One of the hardest prayers I have ever prayed is “Lord do whatever you need to do to bring them to you”. I know where that rock bottom can be and it scares me to think of my children and grandchildren being there. However, it scares me more to think of them never knowing God and the possibility I may be standing in the way of that.

    • Barb Roose says:

      Thank you for stopping by Girlfriends in God today, Angela. You’ve shared some powerful insights that are raw and real. Praise God that we can trust Him with our adult children and grandchildren, even when it’s really hard to do. Blessings to you, Barb

  2. Sherri says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. This really touches home. I realize that over the years I have helped in crippling my adult children and adult siblings by trying to come to their rescue. Now that I am older, it is affecting my health. I am tired and struggle with when to step in. Over the years, I see their occurrences are the same and sometimes more intense. I do pray but must admit that is only after I have stressed out trying to help and in tears …I should SEEK GOD’S FACE FIRST…
    Blessings to you and your family!!

    • Barb Roose says:

      Sherri, thank you for sharing your struggles with secondhand worry. It takes great courage to admit where we’ve done too much. You’re willingness to share will definitely encourage others who are in similar situations. Praying for you to seek God first and let Him teach and take care of those that you love. Blessings, Barb

  3. Sarah says:

    This was so good!! It relieved worry and stress. Thank you!!

  4. Pam says:

    This hit me today. I’m spending sleepless night’s worrying nf over my son who just graduated from college. Not so much because of his life choices but because of the current job market. He’s struggling working part time while waiting (for months now)to hear about an opportunity. I catch myself trying to micromanage rather than praying and giving my concerns to God.

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Pam, thanks for stopping by Girlfriends in God for today’s devotional. There are a lot of us on our knees for our adult children, so thank you for sharing your comment with us. You aren’t alone and I hope that you’ve felt encouraged today. God sees and knows what we and our loved ones are going through. Hang in here!

  5. Cindy says:

    I read your daily devotions everyday and love them! I have been following Girlfriends in God for a year now. Last week I saw a post of a Women’s Conference being held in Ashville, NC in November hosted by Girlfriends in God, but no longer see it. Was it cancelled?
    Thank you,

  6. Beth says:

    I know I shouldn’t be amazed. But It amazes me that God gives me exactly what I need when I need it. Thank you so much for doing what God wants you to do. I woke up this morning with worry and concern of a discussion I had with 2 of my adult children last night. This really gave perspective and peace to my heart and whole being.
    God is so good!! Thank you Beth

    • Barb Roose says:

      Beth, thank you for your comment. There are so many other mothers of adult children who know exactly how you feel. Praise God for peace and perspective. Blessings to you, Barb

  7. Deborah. Bright says:

    Thank for the reminder. Its been a long time since I’ve taken on other’s problems a long time it worn me out. A friend who is a social worker help me to not take on other people’s problems. I was younger now that I’m older I grown more in God’s word and wisdom. I pray and trust God for the outcome for me and everybody. Wow what freedom!! I love life!

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Deborah, thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience with us. I love that God sent someone into your life long ago to teach you how to walk in that freedom. Praise God!

  8. Sharida says:

    My whole family struggles with this. We are some heavy “worry-warts” but def giving it to God first is the answer and once we realize it in the situation it relieves so much pressure. Thank you 🙂

    • Barb Roose says:

      Sharida, you and your family aren’t alone! It’s so hard to remember to give is together, but as sisters in Christ we’re doing to keep encouraging each other to do it. Thanks for sharing your comment today. Blessings, Barb

  9. Cherilynn says:

    What a wise remember to always cast our worries onto the One who can carry the load for us! And to trust that He is, indeed, working behind the scenes.
    Bless you xo

  10. Nicole says:

    I think God spoke to me through you today thank you so much for this.

  11. Candace Brandt says:

    This was so timely. Thank you! My husband left our marriage emotionally and spiritually and I’ve been trying to deal with that for him. His body is here but his heart is elsewhere and it’s not a good place which he has chosen to let his mind wander. It’s as if I thought I should assume the consequences when, in fact, I only need to deal with my own response and responsibilities for this. That’s plenty to deal with for now! It’s time for him to assume responsibility fir his choices and for him to deal with the consequences. I’m praying the Holy Spirit can touch his heart and open his mind. I’ve been struggling to know what to do and this has helped so much.

    • Barb Roose says:

      Hi Candace, I’m so glad that God used this post to speak to the hard and heartbreaking place where you’re at right now. You’ve arrived at a healthy-God honoring resolution and I’m praying God’s peace and strength for you, Barb

  12. Carola says:

    No sé por dónde empezar.siento todo el tiempo que tengo que cargar las faltas de mi esposo e hijos.siempre me culpa.hasta porque no come y por mi culpa ve a otra despreciable.todo ėl y la situación que me hace vivir de desprecio inmerecido. ahora me doy cuenta que no dedo cargar nada de nadie Dios le demandará a cada uno según sus obras y corazón.

    Muchas gracias por tan sabía enseñanza.Bendiciones.

    • Barb Roose says:

      Carola, thank you for joining us on the Girlfriends in God blog today. My heart goes out to you and everything that you are going through. May God assure you of His great love for you. I’m praying wisdom, strength and courage for you today. Dios bendiga, Barb

  13. Tuduetso says:

    Dear Barb
    Thank you for allowing God to use you to touch my heart today.
    I and my husband get consumed by Secondhand worry for our young adult kids.And its sovtruevtgat we struggle to let them experience the naturalconsequences of their choices.Some of it maybe mainly to protect our name!🙈🙈
    From today i call upon the power of the holy spirit to consume us and help us to step aside and let God.

    • Barb Roose says:

      I am joining with you in that prayer! I’m glad that you recognize that God’s there to guide your adult children and that you can align your heart with God’s. He loves your adult children!

  14. Judy says:

    Thank you so much. I know our adult child needs to learn on her own. Thats how my parents dealt with me and it made me a stronger and better person. Second hand worry is gone! Surrender it to God!
    Thank you.

  15. Chris says:

    I don’t fit into your usual audience, as I am a married father of two. But I think that what you said can apply to the men as well.

    Years of poor choices left by my sister in her marriage destroyed that relationship and may have done the same with her kids.

    I love her dearly, as do my parents and my family. But what we see clearly in wanting her to be healed she may be unwilling or afraid to face. We can’t force the issue, and it’s the waiting and watching that is not fun.

    But when you wrote that love is sacrificial and not suicidal, something about that clicked in my brain. In a good way. Help that I needed.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  16. Barbara Roose says:

    Hi Chris, it’s always good to hear from the men, too! Thank you for sharing your comment – and I am so sorry for the heartache that you’re family has experienced as well. It is tough when those we love made decisions that impact others lives in a painful ways.

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