“Mommy, when you talk about storms, my belly feels funny.”
My youngest said this to me as he listened to his older brother and I talk about hurricanes. He has always feared storms. Thunder, lightning, tornado warnings, and the threat of hurricanes put him on edge. When a storm rages outside, I often find him hiding under the covers or in the dark depths of my closet. It doesn’t help that we live in Florida, the lightning capital and often hurricane central.
I understand his heart. I have many fears of my own. From snakes to accidents, from failure to terminal illness, my heart has often been consumed by fears. I have feared the future, the unknown, and the uncontrollable.
The problem with fear is that it can paralyze us and keep us from moving forward. It can block our vision so that we can’t see anything else but the giant looming before us. Fear can also motivate us to try and control our circumstances, our life, and that of those around us. Our days become filled with trying to keep our greatest fears at bay….to read the rest of this post, visit iBelieve, my writing home today.
I think we can all admit that we do. In fact, we probably worry more than we realize. As a mother, I find myself worrying about my children, about their health, their learning, and whether I can just make it to bedtime each day.
I also find myself worried about paying bills, about my husband’s travel for work, and about that message from my doctor needing to discuss test results with me. My to-do lists keep me awake at night because I fear I’ll forget to do something important. Questions like “what if?” and “should I have?” swirl around my mind, holding me hostage and keeping me chained to my worries and fears…to read the rest of this post, visit Desiring God.
I once taught my Sunday School class a lesson on worry by having them take turns walking around the classroom blindfolded. They had to listen to the sound of their friend’s voices guiding them around obstacles I had scattered around on the floor. It was a fun activity but what I wanted them to see was that we live our life blind. We don’t know what lies ahead, even what will happen in the next moment. Just as my students had to trust each other while they were blindfolded, we must trust God as he guides us into our unknown future.
This fact lies at the heart of my battles with worry. I often look ahead into tomorrow, the next month, the next year and worry about my circumstances in the future. When life is hard today, I’ll worry about tomorrow and whether I will have the emotional strength for another day. If money is short, I’ll look into next month and fear there won’t be any left when the calendar turns a page. If my plans fail today, I’ll worry they will never come to fruition.
The truth that I have to cling to is that God’s grace is more than enough for each moment. He will sustain me through today and then tomorrow he will sustain me yet again. There is no limit, his well of grace never runs dry. Like the manna the Israelites were given in the wilderness, God gives us grace each day and then tomorrow, fresh grace will arrive to sustain us for another day.
“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never ceases, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
John Piper talks about God’s provision for each moment in A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life, “Trusting Christ today includes trusting him to give you tomorrow’s trust when tomorrow comes. Often we feel today like our reservoir of strength is not going to last for another day. The fact is, it won’t. Today’s resources are for today, and part of those resources is the confidence that new resources will be given tomorrow (p.25).”
Just as my students had to trust their friend to guide them around the classroom, I have to trust God for my future. In fact, trust is the opposite of worry. The reality is, we do not know what the future holds. We don’t know what will happen even one minute from now. The circumstances of our life are outside our control. But we can rest comfortably in the fact that it is in God’s control and he will give us just what we need each and every day. Whether it’s our daily bread (Matthew 6:25-34), or strength during trials (1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Peter 4:14), God is always faithful to provide.
Jesus encouraged his followers with these words, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34). Jesus is saying, ”Trust me. I know what’s ahead. I will lead you through whatever hurdles or obstacles are there. I will provide everything you need for your journey. I will strengthen you with my mercy and grace, both of which I have in abundant supply.”
God has proven himself to be faithful. Paul wrote in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things” (vs. 31-32). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate demonstration of God’s faithfulness and grace toward us. If he has given and provided for our greatest need, salvation from sin, won’t he also provide us what we need for each day?
When the day is long and we are tempted to think that we can’t bare another day, may we remember God’s faithfulness for us through Jesus Christ. Rather than worry about tomorrow, may we instead trust him to rain down fresh mercy and grace each day. As we taste the sweetness of that grace, may we give thanks, knowing that it’ll never go stale or run out. And may we greet each new sunrise with this old hymn in our heart: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
It starts the moment we awake and continues all throughout the day. It happens while we work, eat, drive, and even while we talk to others. At the end of the day, while we lie in bed, it keeps us awake, making us toss and turn well into the night. It is so common place and such a part of us that we often don’t even notice it.
Counselors call it “self-talk.” Others call it our internal dialogue. You might call it talking to yourself. No matter its name, everyone thinks, ponders, and mulls over the events of their day and the circumstances of their life. After an argument with our spouse, we may replay it in our minds and think of all the things we would have said. We’d agree with ourselves that we were right and our spouse was wrong. When our kids do something wrong for the hundredth time that day, we think “What is going on? Why can’t they just do what they are told?” And when someone cuts in front of us in line, we think “What do they think they’re doing? That’s not fair, I was here first.”
Even more than just debating issues or pondering life’s situations, we also say things to ourselves that just are not true. When something bad happens, the first thought in my mind is a sarcastic comment like this, “Of course, that’s just how my life is.” When the day starts off first thing with a challenge I think, “Oh great. This is going to be a horrible day.” I also hear ongoing whispers of “Your just not good enough.” “You don’t matter.” “Just stop trying and give up.”
Our internal dialogue with ourselves is a powerful force in our decision making, our responses to others and to life’s circumstances, as well as determining the direction of our emotions. My own internal discussions often snowball out of control. I tend toward too much introspection and often mull things over to death in my mind. One negative thought triggers another and they turn to each other and say, “Yes, that’s right.” They bring in more friends to join them, and then gaining speed, they produce an avalanche of tumbling thoughts and emotions.
Scripture tells us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8) We are also taught to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Dr. Martin LLoyd-Jones put it like this, “I say that we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us! Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is that, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self…Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” (from his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure).
Rather than allowing our thoughts to take over and push us over the edge into worry, fear, depression, and hopelessness, Dr. Jones suggested that we stop listening to ourselves and instead talk back to ourselves. The writer of Psalm 42 does this very thing. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (v.5). He talks to himself asking, “Why are you so upset?” Then he tells himself what he needs to do–put his hope in God. When we hear ourselves speaking lies, we must talk back to ourselves by speaking the truth of God’s word.
Dr. Jones goes on to write,
“You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.”
While we may joke about talking to ourselves, it’s actually something we should do. We ought to preach the truth of the gospel to ourselves, reminding ourselves of who we are because of Christ. As a child of our heavenly Father, we are heirs of the Kingdom. We have been cleansed and made new by the sacrificial death of Christ in our place. God looks at us and does not see our sin but Christ’s righteousness instead. We are new creatures; the old is gone, the new has come. God is even now molding us and shaping us into the likeness of his Son. He’s not letting go or giving up on us and there is nothing that can separate us from his love.
How’s that for speaking the truth to our self?
So go on, talk to yourself. Speak the truth. Remind yourself of who you are. And stop listening to the lies.
This is another post in the series titled, The Healer of Our Souls. The posts in this series focus on how the truth of God’s Word brings healing to all wounded parts of our soul.To read more in this series, click here.
My heart is often fickle. I sing praise to God about His wonders and grace when life is going well. I testify to everyone about what He has done and how He has answered my prayers. But then once life makes a turn and I face an obstacle or a trial, I complain, question God, and doubt the very grace I once praised.
What is wrong with me?
When the circumstances in my life change from rosy to fair or even worse, does that mean God has changed? Is He only good if He is giving me good things and whatever I ask for? And what about when the trials linger, does that mean His power has diminished or that He’s lost His love for me?
While my head would say that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “No” the truth is, my heart often responds with a “Yes.”
Oh, that God would give me grace to make what my head knows to be true to be what my heart lives out as truth!
The truth is, I project my own human limitations and expectations on God. This is why my heart questions His love, power, or grace when life gets hard. But God is not the one who changes, I do. I am the fickle Queen of Broken Promises, with swinging emotions and a distracted heart.
While I may be ever changing, there is one thing that is constant, dependable and sure. There is one thing I can count on when I journey through deep valleys and grope in the darkness of uncertainty. Like keeping my eyes on the level horizon when a storm rages at sea, there is one constant I can look to when the storms of life rage in my soul.
The character of God.
God never changes. He is always faithful and keeps every promise. He never tires, feels helpless, or loses his power. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And he is always, always good.
Jesus prayed for the disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is the truth of God’s word which changes us, sanctifies us, transforms us–from the inside out. When it comes to the character of God, the more I study His word to learn about his attributes, the more in awe I will be. The more I dwell on the unshakable truths about God, the more I am utterly moved that he would ever love me. And my own love and trust for him grows as I splash in the joy of being known and loved by our amazing God.
Below are just a few of the attributes or character traits of God found in Scripture. Will you join me in studying and learning more about who God is? As you study these attributes of God, consider using them in your prayers. Thank God for each of his characteristics. Use them in prayers of praise. Confess how you may have failed to trust him for these attributes. Ask him to apply them to your heart so that you might have deeper faith and love for him.
This is another post in the series The Healer of Our Souls. This series is intended to show how God’s word is the source of healing for all wounds in our soul. To read the other posts in this series, click here.
I sit in the doctor’s office, feeling a sense of deja vu. It was four years ago that my oldest son had sinus surgery. Now I’m here again with my youngest, hearing the news all over again.
As the surgeon rattles off a list of four procedures my youngest son needs, my stomach tightens. Tears burn my eyes. I feel a panic rise up. Not again. Not my baby.
But because I’ve been down this road before, I know where it leads: fear, anxiety, worry, despair. Not this time.
No, this time, I cling to this truth: God is sovereign.
When life’s circumstances threaten to undo me, I have to rest in the sovereignty of God. This is where the rubber meets the road–do I really believe God is in control of all things? If I do, then He is most certainly in control of my son’s health. This did not hit him by surprise. He is not panicked. He’s not wondering what’s wrong and scratching His head about what to do.
In fact, God has allowed this situation for a reason and it’s in His perfect plan that I place my trust. I know that He loves me and my son. Because He promises that all things work together for our ultimate good, I know that good is what will come of it. He knows how much I love my son. He even knows what it’s like to see His own Son suffer.
He is in this and He’s got this.
God’s word is the source of healing for the wounds in my soul. It reminds me that the same God who formed the sun, moon, and stars cares about me. It reminds me that the same God who uses the earth as a footstool loved me before the earth existed. It’s this God who promises to never leave me or forsake me.
And it’s there, in His word, that I find the comfort I need today:
“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know!” Proverbs 30:4
“Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” Isaiah 40:14
“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth– the LORD God Almighty is his name.” Amos 4:13
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
“The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
I am a worrier. Are you? Sometimes my heart is so full of worry I can think of nothing else. It is in those times that I need to be reminded of the gospel. I need to remember the truth about who I am in Christ and that He never leaves me alone. I need to lay my worries at the cross and rest in the freedom that Christ has born all my burdens.
Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed by worries and concerns that I just can’t concentrate to pray. I want to pray. I know I need to pray. But I can’t seem to focus my mind.
C.S. Lewis wrote to his friend Malcomb that we should start off prayer with whatever is on our minds, because the very things that distract us will keep us from praying. I’ve learned that when I am worried, I need to pray about each and every thought and feeling on my heart.
I also like to pray through the gospel, to remind myself of what is true. As I pray through what Christ has done for me, it frees me of my burdens. Looking back at God’s grace for me in the past gives me hope for His grace in the future.
Today I wanted to share a prayer I wrote for those of us who carry heavy burdens, who feel weighed down with worries and cares. I pray that this prayer encourages your own heart and leads you to a time of sweet communion through prayer with your Father in Heaven.
My Papa in Heaven,
I come to you with a heart heavy and full of so many worries and cares. I want to just curl up on your lap and find some peace from the chaos in my life. My worries fill my mind night and day. My stomach is in knots and I can hardly breathe. I feel like I am drained dry; the joy has been sucked right out of me.
You said to come to you with all my burdens. You said that you will carry them. Scripture describes you as a rock, shield, and fortress. I need a rock right now. I need a fortress to run into right now. I need you.
There are so many decisions to make. What if I make the wrong one? So many bad things loom on the horizon, what if I’m not prepared? Help me to focus my heart on you and not on the giants around me. I know that all these worries are keeping me from trusting you. Instead of looking in your face, I am looking around at the waves crashing over me.
Forgive me for doubting and not living a life of trust. I believe, but please help my unbelief. I know when I worry, I am believing a lie that says that I can control what happens in my life. Forgive me for trying to control something I never really had control of. Help me to trust in your word and not the lies I have believed.
You sent your Son to carry my greatest burden at the cross. I know that you can handle all that troubles me today. There is nothing too great for you, the earth is your footstool and the wind and rain come and go at your command. Free me of this worry today. Help me to trust the same grace that saved me at the cross to save me from all that weighs me down today.
I know that you have a perfect plan for my life. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight. I want to trust in your plan and your love for me. I want to face the unknown future confident that you have it under control. Give me the grace I need to do so.
I thank you for Jesus and that because of Him I can come to you in confidence. You accept me as I am, worries and all. I give them all to you now, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
To read a related prayer, A Prayer for the Sad at Heart, click here.
Hearing this news from our pediatric ENT was not at all what I wanted to hear. “He’s going to need surgery and I can’t do it. I’m going to send you to a specialist in Miami who does this surgery with children this young.”
My oldest was four and after two years of chronic infections, tests, and an adenoidectomy, the doctor finally determined that he needed sinus surgery. After two years of various treatments including a surgery without results, the thought of him having sinus surgery was too much…to read the rest of this story, visit Domestic Kingdom, my writing home today.
Today some of my dear friends in the blogging world stop to honor and encourage a beautiful and brave woman of God. Our sweet sister-in-Christ, Desiré from the blog When You Rise, will soon give birth to her third son, Caleb. This little boy is a precious gift from our Heavenly Father who has a long road ahead of him. He was diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect and will almost immediately need to undergo the first of many surgeries to help his little heart work properly. As we anticipate his arrival, we want to take a moment to celebrate this new life as well as encourage our sister Desiré as she prepares for the days ahead. Would you join us in praying for Caleb? You can stay updated on his journey by “liking” his Facebook page Pray for Caleb.
I wrote this prayer for her and for all of us who have loved ones who weight heavy on our hearts.
Dear Father in Heaven,
I come before you today to lift up my friend to you. She is your child and you are her Abba. What a priviledge we have as your children to come right up to your lap, to ask for help, and to know that you hear us.
Going through the valley of darkness is frightening. I can only imagine the emotions and thoughts that swirl around in her mind each day. I ask today that you be her peace and comfort. Help her to sense your presence in the darkness. Guide her forward as a shepherd leads his sheep.
For you are our Great Shepherd, Jesus. You came to earth to suffer in our place, as a lamb before the slaughter house. Because of that, You know what it is like to grieve, to suffer, to have sorrow. You understand our thoughts, feelings, temptations, and wounds. Please comfort Desiré with Your love and peace today. Be strength for her and carry her today.
I pray especially for healing for baby Caleb. Please be at work in the secret place where his body is growing even now. Touch him with your miraculous hand. Make him to grow strong and healthy. Give the doctor’s wisdom at each and every appointment. I pray for a safe and healthy delivery.
May You be glorified in this situation. May each person involved be amazed and marvel at who You are. I pray that many people will come to saving faith through the testimony of Desiré and her family.
And I pray for her two sweet boys. Give them extra grace to be patient and obedient now and in the days and weeks following Caleb’s birth. I pray that through this experience that they would grow to love and trust You more.
The effects of the Fall are all around us, Lord. We feel it everyday. And it makes us long for the day when everything will be made right. We anxiously await the day where there is no more sickness and no more pain. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
And as we await that day, help us to remain faithful. Help us to love you. When worries overtake our heart because of our loved ones, refresh us with your Gospel. When we feel helpless and uncertain, give us grace to trust in Your love. When the valley of darkness seems to never end, guide us by Your light and truth.
It’s because of Jesus that we can pray these things, Amen.
In my little corner of the world, we take storms seriously–hurricanes especially. I was raised outside our nation’s capital, so ‘hurricane’ was not a word in my vocabulary. Once I got married and moved to Florida, it quickly became a word we used often especially during the six months of hurricane season. And if there is one thing I’ve learned about storms, it is the importance of being prepared before they come.
Each year we prepare for storms by storing extra water, canned food, gasoline, flashlights and batteries. We know whose house is safest for us to evacuate to if needed. Not only that, but we have a generator for when the power is out for days on end.
But one year, there was one thing I hadn’t considered in my storm preparations…