From Anxious Thoughts to Trusting the Lord

“Lisa, you need to go to the principal’s office,” my fifth grade teacher informed me one day. Oh my! Instantly, the rosy colors of the day turned to gloom and doom. I left the classroom with sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and my mind racing, trying to recall what I might have done to earn the principal’s attention. I felt like I had 4 cotton balls in my mouth as I reviewed the events of the day, the week, even the last month! “What had I done wrong that would make him call me to his office?” I worried and walked slowly, but not too slowly; I didn’t want to get in more trouble.

Smiling timidly I walked into his office. I remember he greeted me with an effort at a joke as he gave me some papers my mother needed. That was it? I wasn’t in trouble? Only then was I able to manage a big, though slightly shaky grin. I wasn’t in trouble! Nothing was wrong! I had only feared receiving bad news, though I couldn’t think of any reason that would warrant it. I have to confess that even now, that fifth-grade response of fear and worry can strike my heart at any time and I still have that sense of dread over the unknown. A natural enough response I suppose, yet not at all what God desires for His children. 

God doesn’t want us to live in fear of bad news or to create trouble in our minds that hasn’t even transpired; that’s why He explains in the Bible how not to fear evil tidings. Psalm 112:7 gives us a picture of what this would look like in our lives, “He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” There’s no escaping the connection between not giving in to fear and worry and trusting the Lord. 

But how do we get there? How can we become that person? That person whose heart is not alarmed, even in unexpected circumstances. Psalm 112:1 tells us: “How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.” Do you see the glimmers of hope and practical help here? The Psalm 112:7 woman is first the Psalm 112:1 woman who fears the Lord and greatly delights in the Word. That combination of holy reverence and love for the Word forges a steadfast heart. Proverbs 1:33 illuminates this truth further, “But he who listens to me (me = wisdom that comes from God) shall live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.” A woman who fears the Lord, heeding God’s wisdom, and delighting in God’s Word won’t fear bad news. Why? Because she doesn’t live in the realm of what-if, she fastens her thoughts upon the One who is over all things, over all circumstances, over all events. As she does this she is comforted.

The Psalmist explains this process further when he says in Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” In another psalm he said, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3).” What we see here is the Psalmist actively putting his faith into practice. Though he was afraid, he didn’t wallow in his fear and give into worry’s paralyzing effects, instead he turned to the Lord for deliverance, help, and hope.

Times like these—when we’re tempted to worry and give in to fear and anxiety—are the perfect time to apply Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Using this list of things to dwell on helps us keep our thoughts reined in and on the Lord, so worry and fear are kept at bay. As I apply that list to my thoughts I rarely get past “Is it true?” before my fears dissolve. The positive and practical nature of Philippians 4:8 helps me turn from groundless fears to the solid truths of God’s character and ways. A woman who tests her thoughts under the microscope of Philippians 4:8 will find herself living like Isaiah 26:3-4, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” 

 

The Means God Uses to Instill Hope

The Means God Uses to Instill Hope

The end result of tribulations is hope—emphasis on end result. Often, when we’re gasping for air, trying to wrestle down hope to gain some relief, we create a short bridge in our minds from verse 3 “we exult in our tribulations” to verse 5 and the “hope that doesn’t disappoint.” I think it’s safe to say most in-the-midst-of-trials people are “hope challenged.” It’s why we so quickly make the jump in our minds from “tribulations” to “hope that doesn’t disappoint.” There’s just one problem. We miss the means God uses to grant us that non-disappointing hope.

Read More

He Will Not Reject Forever

O, tried and tempest-tossed one, hear these words, “The Lord will not reject forever.” Think upon the reality of those words. Your present circumstances will not last forever. Even if they last the rest of your days on this earth, they will not last forever. For each believer “forever” holds special import. Forever means life with Jesus. Forever means seeing His dear face. Forever means no more sin, no more sorrow, no more pain. Ah, let us think on forever. Revelation 21:3-4 tells us, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” Think on the sweetness of this “forever” truth from Revelation 22:3-4, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.”

“The Lord will not reject forever.” You may feel rejected and abandoned by the Lord, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures, upon which we gain our footing, tell us a much better “reality” for the state we now find ourselves in. From Hebrews 13:5 we learn that Jesus Himself said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Or if you like, listen to Isaiah 49:14-16, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” We must learn to line our feelings up with the facts.

Often we feel rejected by the Lord because we forget the love, care, power, and might He infuses into every detail of our lives. We view our circumstances from an earthly perspective, when what we really need is a God-has-eternity-in-view perspective. More often than not, we need to remind ourselves that God is more concerned about our holiness than He is our happiness. He intends to complete His wondrous work in our souls, which most often is accomplished through trials and difficulty and sorrow.

“The Lord will not reject forever.” Hear the certainty of those words. He will not. Our compassionate and loving God absolutely, positively will not reject forever. There will come a day when things will change. Psalm 30:5 reminds us, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” How long we’ll weep we cannot say, but we do know this—one day, one morning, there will be joy! David relied on this truth and comforted himself with this knowledge in Psalm 27:13-14, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage, yes, wait for the Lord.”

Let us counter our discouragement and despair with these words from Lamentations 3:21-25, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”