Tag Archives: anxiety

(Psalm 77) Disappointment, Despair, and Deliverance

Have you ever gone through a time of crisis when you found yourself fighting despair, unable to sleep, not seeing an answer? Do you know that God has provided some direction in His Word for those times? Deliverance is available, and He wants you to know that.

Asaph was experiencing a time of crisis himself. And the 77th Psalm tells us how he went from disappointment and despair to confidence in the loving hand of God. I’m going to use some thoughts from Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful” (David C Cook Publisher, 2004; pp 246-249).

Asaph tells us about the darkness he was experiencing in the first nine verses. Notice that the first thing he does is cry out to God in prayer. He admits that he has refused to be comforted, that even the thought of God makes him groan, that his spirit is weak.

Does that surprise you? Aren’t believers supposed to have it all together? Aren’t we expected to exhibit joy and peace and faith at all times? Why is it so hard for us to admit there are times when we question, and hurt, and don’t have all the answers, when so often God has shown us through His word that yes, even believers have struggles? Friend, if you are hurting, admit it. Don’t hide it. Put into words what you are feeling, and cry out to God. He can take it. And He won’t leave you hanging. Let’s continue looking at Asaph’s example.

After Asaph prays and tells God exactly what he is experiencing, Asaph does something important. He remembers. He allows himself a moment to leave his pain and look back upon the blessings that he’s received in the past, the times God was faithful, the times when his relationship with God brought him joy, music, and blessings.

“So why not now?” he asks of God. Now we need a disclaimer here. When we question God – which is NOT a sin – we need to prepare ourselves to receive the answers, even if those answers hurt, or are not exactly what we expect them to be. If we ask questions of God, we need to be ready to hear HIS answers. Let’s look at the questions Asaph asked, and to God’s Word to find the answers:

  1. Verse 7 – Will the Lord reject me and never accept me again? The answer is NO! There are many verses in the Bible that reassure you of that, like James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”
  2. Verse 8a – Has the Lord stopped loving me? Again, the answer is NO! The prophet Jeremiah tells us in the second part of 31:3 that God has “loved you with an everlasting love.” When Paul asked the question, “Who can separate us from God’s love,” he answered with: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Verse 8b – Have God’s promises failed? That would be a resounding NO! Listen to what Paul said to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in (Jesus). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
  4. Verse 9a –Has God forgotten to be gracious? Another resounding NO! “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9b)
  5. Verse 9b – Is God too angry to show me some compassion? The answer to that is NO! The psalmist tells us “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Ps 30:5). Another psalm assures us “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (103:8)

Then, after asking God some questions, Asaph comes to a decision. In verses 1-20 he says, “I will” three times. I will remember the Lord’s work, I will remember his wonders, and I will reflect and meditate on his actions.

Asaph turned from thoughts about himself to thoughts of God. Wiersbe, on page 248 says, “When we look at our circumstances, we focus on ourselves and see no hope; but when we look by faith to the Lord, our circumstance many not change, but we do.”

Are you struggling? I’m sorry if you are. I understand life is full of trials and disappointments and struggles. But let me ask you this: Do you love God in spite of your circumstances? I pray that you do.

And if you do, let me leave you with a bit of hope straight from the mouth of the God who loves you enough to die for you:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Yes, even your struggles. I hope you’ll take time to read Psalm 77 today. Find a concordance or Google verses in God’s Word that contain the words, “compassion,” “love,” “grace,” “strength,” “worry,” “anxiety,” or whatever it is that comes to your mind. I think you’ll find tons of verses that speak to your need.

Because God wants to intervene on your behalf. You can trust Him to deliver you.

I’m praying for you.

Our Conduct (Philippians)

I imagine we all can agree our world is changing. People live in constant fear. Tempers flair. Families are forced apart by government and even by political opinion. The US is imploding. It looks like we are on the brink of defeat, not from some outside military force, but from within ourselves.

Then I hear God say through Paul:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (1:27)

What does that mean? How are we who know the Savior supposed to conduct ourselves during these uncertain times? I want to share with you some verses Mom underlined in her Bible here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. It pretty much answers those questions.

2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.

So, does this mean we wear masks? Maybe. Do we speak truth instead of promoting hysteria? Probably. But I think more importantly this tells us that we should not merely be satisfied with our own ticket to heaven. I honestly think God is more interested in whether or not we share the Gospel, than whether or not we wear a mask. I think it’s more likely that God is telling us to reach out to lost people, even if it means we’ll be rejected, made fun of, mistreated, or worse. Telling people about Jesus isn’t always convenient. We should do it anyway.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Read verses 6-11 if you want to know more about that. Having a humble, servant’s attitude is so contrary to today’s Me First society. Yet that is what God requires of His children.

2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing.

Pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Just don’t miss the word, “everything.”

3:1 …rejoice in the Lord!

We can get so caught up in the climate of fear and anxiety we miss the real joy that comes from a relationship with God Himself. Our circumstances might not give us reason for joy. But the Lord does! Rejoice in the Lord!

3:13-14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Forget the past. Don’t hold grudges or try to even the score. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Focus. Focus. Focus. Press on by being that humble, obedient servant God intends for you to be. Jesus is ahead! Keep moving toward Him.

4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Sadly, some people equate gentleness with weakness. There is a difference. Be strong in the Lord while you show love to one another. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Share Jesus with kindness and firmness. I’m pretty sure few people are saved by someone thumping them on the head with a Bible.

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything.

Yes, not even COVID. Not even socialism or communism or China or the stock market. Anything means anything. Do not allow anxiety to possess you.

Paul goes on to tell us:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:7)

Does the world witness the peace of God in you? Or are you wringing your hands like those who have no hope? God is telling us we can have His peace. Do you trust Him? Prove it.

Most of us Christians would say that our desire is to be the people God wants us to be. Most of us want to by used by God to win people to His saving grace. Most of us, I would think, want to live lives worthy of the precious Gospel we received through faith in Jesus.

Living that life isn’t easy nor convenient. Sometimes we get it right, other times we fail miserably. But Paul reminds us:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (4:13)

You can live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. You can do it all through your relationship with Him!

Then…

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Conduct worthy of the Gospel might not be easy or politically correct. But it comes with benefits, my friend. It comes with all the glorious riches in Jesus!

Doesn’t get better than that.

Twilight (Isaiah 21)

The world was out of control in Isaiah’s day. Nations rose to power only to be overthrown by nations that had previously been defeated by them. People worshiped idols, then they worshiped God, then they returned to idols, and sometimes tried to worship everything at the same time. Isaiah knew, because God had revealed it to him, that the world was on a downward spiral plunging toward destruction.

The prophet longed for peace. We who have lived on this earth for more decades than we sometimes care to admit, can relate. We worked our whole lives. We raised children through lean years, rebellious years, through the laughter and tears. We helped with homework, drove to games, sat through recitals, planned birthday parties, cooked and cleaned and bandaged boo-boos.

We served in our churches joyfully and tirelessly, teaching Sunday School, working in the nursery, serving on committees, visiting the sick, caring for widows. We sacrificed ourselves for the good of others. And we were glad to do it!

But now we are tired. We long for the peace and comfort of twilight, that time of day when things slow down, when the sun sinks in the west amid the purples and pinks and oranges of sunset, when the birds sing their final song of the day, and life slows down. But for some of us, like Isaiah, that twilight has become a horror. (verse 4)

I could sit here and list the many horrific things many of us are facing in the twilight of our years. We all know what’s going on. But I want to point you to the watchman in verses 11-12. The news isn’t all bad, or all good.

Yes, there are times of trouble. But there are also times of blessing. There is night. And there is day. Satan would love nothing more than to have us sit and fret about our current conditions, to worry about the “what ifs,” to be angry if people don’t see things the way we do. Our enemy wants us to live in turmoil.

God wants better for us. Let’s, like the watchman, be on the lookout. Morning is coming, but also the night. God is still in the business of blessing His obedient children. He is still the powerful, loving, just God who hasn’t forgotten us.

Keep your eyes on the sky, your heart in tune with your Creator.  There is joy today. There is peace today. There is hope today. Yes, there are challenges and heartaches and sickness and injustice. But never forget that time marches on. What we face today will be ancient history tomorrow. Morning is coming, but also the night.

I love twilight. Most of the pictures I choose to put as my heading on this blog are of sunsets. The one I’m using currently was taken a few weeks ago when my family and I went on a sunset dolphin cruise. After a hectic day of chasing the kids around, of going to the beach, of putting out little fires when someone had the iPad too long, this boat ride was a time to unwind and take in God’s amazing creation. It was peaceful and absolutely beautiful. A perfect end to a wonderfully chaotic day.

There is every reason to praise God today and every day. Watch for it!

What God Wants You To Know (Psalm 94)

God’s Word is alive. Whenever I prayerfully read it, God always – always – speaks to me about something that applies to my life at that very moment. It might be a verse I’ve read many times before, but when I am going through something and need a word from God, that same verse brings on new meaning at just the right time. Oh, what a treasure I forfeit when I don’t spend time reading God’s love letter to me every day.

I’d like to share something Mom had underlined in her Bible, a couple verses that spoke to me from this psalm this morning. I think it might be something God wants us all to hear Him say as our world slowly opens up after the forced separation surrounding the virus.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (verses 18-19)

My prayer is that all of us will rest in the supporting love of our Lord. I pray that any anxiety we might feel will be replaced with joy that only God can give as we allow Him to console us.

Dear one, I would ask all of us to stop listening to the media tell us how scared we should be. Stop allowing Satan to cause us anxiety and hopelessness.

Listen instead to God, read His Word instead of the newspaper, and hear Him say that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); He wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Then, may we all go through this day, and tomorrow, and the next day with the confidence of God’s support, the joy that is ours through our relationship with the Creator. This is the day the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it, May 29, 2020, virus and all.

I think that’s what God wants us to know today.

September 7; Changing Anxiety Into Joy

Daniel 11b3 6-12:13; Psalms 93-96

Often when I read the psalms God will hit me right where I live. I’ll hear something on the news, or someone close to me will share something that has me concerned, or I will have something happen that shakes me. Then, when I read God’s Word, it’s like God is addressing that very thing that is on my heart. He is amazing!

I’m not going into detail today about what is specifically heavy on my heart because that which is on your heart is very likely something quite different. But I want to share with you what God has said to me through His Word about handling our concerns and battles. I think it applies to us all.

In Psalm 94 the writer begins by pointing out the things that are wrong in the world, that wickedness is seemingly going unchecked. But then we are reminded that God created us with ears, do we think He can’t hear? He created us with eyes, do we think He can’t see? The psalmist calls us foolish for thinking God can ever be caught off-guard. He knows every thought we have. We can rest assured that the things on our hearts are on His heart, too.

The psalmist points us to Scripture, the place where God teaches us, where we find relief from our trouble, where we are assured that as God’s inheritance we are not forsaken. It’s the place where I love to go to hear God’s heart-beat.

Then lastly, the psalmist tells us if we are fighting a battle, God fights with us. When we fall, He catches us. When we are weak, He is our fortress and refuge.  Then in verse 19, listen to this:

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

You remember Philippians 4:6-7, don’t you?

Be anxious for nothing but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I Peter 5:7 says,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So I guess today, as my heart is heavy, as I find myself worrying about people I love, I am reminded that God wants to be in this with me. He wants to be my rock and my refuge. He wants to teach me, assure me, love me through it.

He wants to change my anxiety to joy. And I am going to let Him!

Judges 6-8; Fear and Fearlessness

I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, so one of my least favorite movies is “Jaws.” I’d rather not think about what’s swimming around out there. But the movie makers did an incredible job of instilling fear into the audience with the use of music. Well, two notes, really. They’d play those two notes softly at first, then gradually those notes would get faster, and louder, then at just the right moment, the shark would attack, leaving the audience gasping or screaming at the screen. During the movie, hearing those two notes caused heart rates to rise, even if the action on the screen was happy and carefree. Those two notes could make you believe something bad was about to happen.

Fear often causes us to lose control, and we wind up screaming at a movie screen while sitting in a cushioned chair thousands of miles away from any ocean. That’s why I never liked haunted houses, either. The longer I groped my way through darkened halls, the faster my heart beat, and the more irrational thoughts became reality, sometimes causing me to see things that weren’t really there.

So I’m reading in Judges today how Gideon, with 300 soldiers, lamps, and trumpets, defeated an army of 15,000. And I had one of those laugh-out-loud moments.

The night before the battle, Gideon and one of his soldiers, sneaked into the enemy camp. God, wanting to ease Gideon’s fears, told him to go and hear what the enemy soldiers were saying. Gideon learned that the enemy soldiers were telling each other that the Jewish God was going to help the Jews, that the battle was already lost before it began.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us this, but when I put myself in the enemy’s shoes, I can imagine their confidence was low. I imagine the more they thought about what could be ahead for them, their level of fear rose. I bet they didn’t sleep peacefully the night before they knew there was a good chance they were going to die in battle. If it were me, I’d toss and turn imaging worst case.

Then, just before dawn, this sleep deprived and fearful army were startled by the sound of trumpets, the crashing of breaking glass, and the sudden light of dozens of torches. You’re going to think I’m a bit morbid, but here is where I laughed out loud.

Because I pictured the Three Stooges, suddenly surprised, and hitting and poking each other in the dark.

These soldiers, fueled by their fear, began thrashing their swords, killing anything that moved, not even realizing they were killing their own.

How often in Scripture do we read, “Fear not?” Or how often are we told by God not to worry? Even when we know God’s got this covered, do we allow our fears and worries dominate our thoughts, causing those sleepless nights, that anxiety, until we begin to see things that aren’t even there?

We’ve got to understand that, at the height of fear, we are apt to think and act irrationally, impulsively, distrustfully. We’re liable to start striking out at the people closest to us. God wants better for us than that.

Gideon was comforted and strengthened when God assured Him of the victory. I believe God would like to do the same for us.

Are you facing something really scary? Do you hear that two note Jaws theme getting louder and faster? Then pray. Read God’s Word. Trust Him. Hear Him assure you He’s got this covered. Then believe Him.

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (from I Peter 5:7). He cares that you have peace in the storm, that you are prepared to face the battle, that you are sober minded and able to act and react rationally, and with confidence in His ability to give you the victory.

I pray that you will live fearlessly as a result of putting your faith in God.

October 10 -Who, me? Anxious?

Matthew 5-7

I have to confess that I am getting frustrated about not being allowed back on the island since Hurricane Matthew. I have not seen my house and have no idea if windows are intact or if my things are exposed to the elements, the animals, and looters. I don’t know what to expect, and according to the rumor mill, we may not get home for days.

So this afternoon, as I sit in a hotel room, I read the chapters from my Bible reading plan for October 10: The Sermon on the Mount. As is often the case, God used His Word to speak the exact words I needed to hear today. This is what I heard Him say:

“Don’t be anxious, Connie. Isn’t your life more than the things you own? Have you seen a bird recently? What about the flowers at Gibbs Gardens you saw the other day? Or the grass in the lawn outside your hotel window? I take care of nature,” He reminds me, “and I love you so much more than that. Seek Me and you’ll have everything you need.You’ll have Me! Don’t waste a minute today worrying about tomorrow. I’ve got this covered.”

I am reminded to cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me.

So, Lord, Here are my cares, my concerns, the unknown of my situation. It’s all Yours. You know my heart, and I trust You to provide in the perfect way You always do. Thank You for loving me and caring for me. Draw me close to You and let me rest in the knowledge that You know exactly what I need.

July 20 – My Rock

Isaiah 23-27

Selling two homes, buying one, moving 600 miles away from family, packing boxes, moving vans, closings, finances, utilities. To say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have contracts on my two condos, have gone through about twenty homes with my realtor, and put an offer on one. My head is spinning.

It’s times like this when I am reminded that, no matter how busy my life, no matter how many directions I am pulled, I need to protect my time in God’s Word. These intentional moments I spend with my Savior are really the most important part of every day.

Isaiah reminded me this morning to “Trust in the Lord forever, for on God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (26:4)

My footing right now feels unsteady. There are so many questions yet to be answered about this move. I may be stressed. But I have a Rock. I need but trust Him with today and eternity.

So with Isaiah I will pray “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders…”

He has. And He will.

You Aren’t God

The Bible talks a lot about how we should consider our “selves”. I know modern psychology, and Oprah, and Joel Osteen, and the like say we need to feel powerful, and able, and special, fulfilled, and important. But I see the Bible telling us something quite different. I see Scripture saying we are helpless, sinful, depraved, that we need someone outside ourselves to save us from drowning.

Modern psychology does not work. We are a people drowning in a sea of “self”. People who are angry, depressed, anxious, violent, and who keep looking within themselves for answers because that’s the popular notion are looking in the wrong direction. How many people are medicated today because of psychological problems from eating disorders, to sexual confusion, anxiety to clinical depression? Even children are given pills for psychological problems.

Our children are taught that they are the most important entity in their own lives. So, when a police officer tells a young person to stop, to put their hands in the air, or to drop a gun, we end up reading about a shooting because the young person feels he is above the law. We hear about unspeakable crimes against children, against women, against the elderly because someone has considered their own desires more important than anything else. Abortion? Don’t get me started.

I was reading in Isaiah this morning and was impressed by God’s take on the whole thing. Chapter 45:9-10 tells us what is created has no business questioning the Creator. 47:10-11 says when we say, “I am, and there is no one else besides me,” evil will come upon us.  Proverbs 26:12 says a man who is wise in his own eyes has less hope than a fool.

These verses are only a few throughout the Bible that warn us about the foolishness of focusing on ourselves. Isaiah 48 spoke to me about who God really is. He is the Creator. He alone is God. And everything he does points to the fact of his absolute superiority.

Isaiah 46:5 asks a redundant question. Do I really want to put myself up next to God to establish equality? Do I really?

This just occurred to me as I was thinking about this subject. When a counselor or a pastor tells us to change our thinking about ourselves by telling ourselves how wonderful we are, we end up repeating things like:

I am powerful.

I am capable.

I am good.

I am worthy.

And in doing so, we replace the Great I AM with a counterfeit. Satan wins. We lose.

May you see yourself through God’s eyes today. You are someone who is lost, who is vile, who is powerless, and someone Jesus felt was worth dying for. Let him transform you into someone truly powerful and capable and good and worthy when he pours Himself into you, when HE gives you everything you need to face this day and its challenges.

There is nothing you can do for yourself that he can’t do so much better. After all, he’s God. And you’re not.

Stormy Seas

I’ve never been in a storm at sea. I don’t even want to imagine the fear of being that exposed to danger out there surrounded by water miles deep. I’ve never been in a tropical storm or lived through a tornado. In fact, there have been only a few times I’ve even come close.

But as I read about the terror the passengers and crew experienced in the ship carrying Paul to Rome, I can relate. (Acts 27) Not because I’ve been there, but because I know to an extent, what it’s like to face storms of life.

Getting laid off from my job, Mom’s cancer, financial struggles, my sister’s cancer, my nephew Geoff’s death, Dad’s death. I can’t hold my storms up next to anyone else’s and say mine were harder or that mine were less significant. I only know there have been times that I felt hopeless and lost, when I found it hard to breathe, when fear of the future (or present) caused me sleepless nights.

The account of Paul’s storm at sea reminds me that, no matter how bad the circumstances, no matter how hopeless the future appears, when I am tossed about and can’t find the sun, God is standing next to me.

My only hope is to stay in the boat, holding on to my Savior, riding out the storm together. In this account in the book of Acts, God didn’t calm the storm. But the people on board made it safely to shore. This tells me that my circumstances might not change. The cancer diagnosis might not be a mistake. A broken relationship might not heal. Whatever the cause of my anxiety, depression, fear, might not magically disappear.

But God can see me safely to the other side. I can trust him. And I will.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Presence. You are stronger than any storm I have to face. And I find comfort in knowing that… knowing You. I pray for those reading this today who are being bounced around in a frightening storm. I pray your strength, your comfort, your direction will be evident in the midst. I pray they will hold on, that they will trust you to see them through. Thank you in advance for what you are going to do in the lives of those of us who are facing stormy seas.