This message originally appeared on Matthew West's Facebook page.
Before the concert one night last weekend, a young boy, about 11 years old, asked me if he could have a hug. I said, "Sure."
He ran up to me and gave me a big hug, and then he didn't let go. Instead, as I leaned over to hug the little boy, he whispered something in my ear that made me want to cry.
He said, "I have a lot of anxiety and your song Strong Enough really helps me. When you sing, 'Hands of mercy, won't you cover me,' I feel hands holding me and I feel better."
Just a kid.
A little boy who should be laughing and rough housing with his friends.
A kid who shouldn't have a care in the world.
Instead, for reasons I never found out, he feels the whole world on his shoulders at such a young age. Whatever he is going through is enough to teach a little boy what the word "anxiety" even means, and it breaks my heart even as I think about a few days later.
That night, before I fell asleep, I prayed for that boy. As the tour bus headed to the next city, my thoughts were still back with that little boy, and as I write this, I'm thinking about him again. I wonder what kind of home life he was returning to after the concert. I wondered what might have been going on in his family or at school to make him feel so troubled. I prayed that the "hands of mercy" he spoke of would squeeze that little boy tightly and tenderly. I asked God to replace the anxiety and worries of his little world with the innocence and joy and happiness that every child should get to experience before the real world turns them into grown ups.
As I think about that special hug and the little boy’s whisper in my ear, I am reminded that God does not leave us alone to deal with our anxiety in this troublesome and broken world. When this broken world fills our minds and hearts with anxiety, may we remember that our Heavenly Father is the one who greets us with a hug and a whisper. He wraps his hands of mercy around our hearts and whispers, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" - John 16:33.
- Matthew West