It used to be that the “what ifs” kept me awake at night. You can read about that here. That doesn’t happen a lot these days, and I find it pretty easy to transition from having slept in my recliner for two or three hours to getting right back to sleep in the bed.
Nowadays, sleeplessness shows up at dawn–if dawn arrives at 4am. Waking up that early isn’t so bad. It’s an opportunity to sit in our quiet home and read the Bible and pray. It’s just that the time between that moment my eyes open and when I finally get up is a bit problematic; because most mornings, as soon as my eyes open, this big old giant elephant rushes in and jumps onto my chest, almost suffocating me with heavy and unwelcome anxiety. Awful thoughts pour into my brain in those few moments.
Why? Why does this happen? Did the dreams I can never remember assault my mind while I slept? Is the enemy attacking, hoping to paralyze my day with fear? Am I doing this to myself? Because, if I’m doing this to myself, I’m going to be really mad at me!
These days, my anxieties aren’t because one of my kids might fall into a well (read the article). And I know I’m not alone in this–we all have concerns, right? The “what ifs” invade our minds, the elephant makes a trampoline of our chests, and our peace becomes a ruins.
Jesus knew this would happen. Matthew, chapter 6, is a gold mine of encouragement and instruction for those of us who are overtaken by the anxieties of life. Jesus told his followers, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (6:25)
But what about sickness, Jesus? People I love are sick. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (6:27)
And then there’s this precious exhortation: “… do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (6:34)
I know, I know. Some days this is so much easier to say than to do. I’m there right now. Very serious concerns have visited our home. It’s easy to fill my mind so full of anxiety that I completely lose all peace. But the great Peace Maker won’t let me. He sticks close beside me; He is the shadow on my right hand (Ps. 121:5), and all I have to do is look to Him and be assured He won’t leave me. Peace ultimately arrives and pushes the anxiety into the background. Oh, how I wish I could say it goes away and never returns. I’m working on that.
In the meantime, I keep certain verses close. Psalm 94:19 – “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” I begin my mornings with this verse, remembering all the blessings in my life, thanking God for everything wonderful that comes to mind. Take that, silly elephant! And get off my chest.
Here are a few more verses I remember; perhaps they will bless you, too.
Psalm 142:3a – “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.”
God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (1:5a). He knows us, too. He knew before we were born what path our lives would take. He knew the struggles we would fight, the fears that would overwhelm.
GOD KNOWS, friend. GOD CARES for us. He will never leave us on our own.
When I told the world about my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I was overwhelmed by the compassion of friends. More than one friend referenced Psalm 121, which I have now adopted as my “rudder” as I steer through these new and treacherous waters. It’s a beautiful promise, and I can barely read it without shouting. “I will life up my eyes to the hills; from where shall my help come? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; HE WHO KEEPS YOU will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3).
God is my keeper, my shade, my protector from evil, the guard of my soul. He’s my Good Father. Amen.
God bless your day, dear friends. And remember, it’s all about HIM.