Welcome GraceBreak Cycles, Embrace Grace
Have you ever felt as though God has abandoned you? Have you ever felt confused by God? Does it seem as though his peace is fleeting and fickle?
These words of the Psalmist reverberate through my mind:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
It’s in the busy of the day that we mute our troubles, but it’s in the quiet of the night when our minds start to rev up and race around the troubles that daytime held at bay. We lay in the dark, listening to the furnace cycle on and off, watching the moon cross the room, eyeing the numbers on the clock inching their way closer to morning when we can get up and get away from the thoughts in our head. Then bedtime comes and we repeat the anxious riddled night, which leaves us sleepless and heavy hearted.
Our days are marked with busy and our nights marked with anxiety.
This season of light is a showstopper, but it also reveals our darkness as well. The colors of life sparkle and glow and the contrasts between what we see and what we feel oftentimes becomes too much to bear. Our anxiety grows and it becomes a beast that we cannot wrestle to the ground.
It’s tempting to pray more or serve more or begin a new bible reading plan. And these are good spiritual disciplines, which we need in our relationship with Christ. But they are not the cure for anxiety. They will not be your peace.
The way to peace is not through doing more. It’s through remembering and exchanging.
When peace seems elusive and anxiety definite, we have to pause. We have to pause so we can remember.
We follow in the Psalmist’s footsteps and remember God’s mighty works. The sun that rises. The sun that sets. The way our bodies function without our help. We remember God’s greatness and how he makes a way when there seems to be no way.
We remember that the winds and the waves obey him and that when his path leads us through deep waters that those waters will not engulf us. We take his hand and hold fast, trusting his steps, doing what he does, and stopping when he stops.
We pause and listen for the song that he sings over us. The song of delight and wonder. We remember that he made us lovingly and purposefully. We lift up the mirror of his word so we see ourselves clearly.
After we remember, we name our anxiety. We name the thing that rob us of peace. It could be finances, our marriage, a person, the future, or the past. And then we place it in God’s hands and pick up his peace. But if our anxiety leaps back to us like a magnet, we must put it back again. We place it on God’s desk, because it’s his to deal with and then we pick up his peace. It’s an exchange we repeat.
We remember, we exchange, and we remember again.
There’s no wrestling our anxiety into peace, there’s only us remembering God and exchanging our anxiety for his peace.
Read Psalm 77
Create a Peace Sandwich:
Write down three things that help you remember God’s faithfulness and love.
Write down one or two things that robs your peace.
Picture yourself walking up to God’s desk and placing those items there.
Then imagine yourself picking up his peace.
Write down three more things that you remember about God’s faithfulness.
What do you do when your world goes dark? When you lose your way, your voice, your song? Do you fall in a heap or scramble to busy? Or is it a little bit of both?
To tell you the truth, I don’t always handle it well when a shadow passes over and the ground beneath my feet gives way. It takes me a bit to adjust because what was my normal is no longer my normal. I have to adjust to a new normal which at times seems to be an insurmountable mountain to climb.
But it’s in the storms that I most see God’s mightiness. There’s something about the light seeming to be brighter in the darkness. The tiniest candle gives off the greatest pool of light in the deepest gloom. It draws me like a moth to a flame, only instead of getting burned, I’m comforted.
It’s in the storms that my faith stretches and grows. As the circumstances around me humble me, I bow lower and lower to the ground and find myself reaching deeper and deeper into God’s stores of goodness and grace for me. And then I find something unusual, that as I go deeper, I really am reaching higher. Higher into God’s mountain. Over the jagged boulders and the slippery shale I climb, desperate and hungry for more and more of God.
In “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan paired Timorous with Mistrust because one is not absent from the other. Timidity is a lack of courage and mistrust is skepticism. The depth of my courage is bound to my belief in what God says about himself and about me. And my trust in who God is relates to the level of my courage.
Will I believe that he is my strength and my song? Will I believe that he is able to save?
“Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
This verse becomes an anthem to the distressed. We read that God is our salvation. He saves. So we don’t have to be afraid. For those who believe in God’s plan of salvation for all mankind, their place in eternity is secured. Our circumstances cannot take that from us.
Then we trust and do not give way to fear. The secret to trusting and not giving way to fear is recognizing that you are afraid and anxious, and then speaking God’s truth to your heart. Our faith develops perseverance and endurance in times of trouble.
The Lord is your strength when you are strong and when you are weak. He enables you to trust him, to believe him, if you only ask. You cry, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” He carries you when you cannot take another step. He holds you close when your sorrow renders you powerless. He whispers encouragement to your heart.
And then he is your song. He enables you to praise him. In Psalm 69, the psalmist states that he is afflicted and in pain, but God’s salvation sets him on high. And because of this the psalmist praises the name of God with a song. When we sing to God in the midst of our pain, it gives our hearts a place to bleed and to heal. The Lord becomes the melody we hear. The melody that he sings over us is his song of deliverance and rejoicing.
We trust him and listen for his song and rest in his strength because he saves us. He makes a way through our circumstances either by changing it or changing us. The next time you can’t find your song, listen for God’s melody and then sing.
1.Consider the love God has for you. While you were a sinner, Christ died for you. If you haven’t made Christ your savior, confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved.
2. Admit your weaknesses and rely on God’s strength to carry you through.
With this week comes the busiest five weeks of the year. We have a beautiful celebration of thanks this week, and it becomes the opening score to a beautiful opus of celebrating the Author of Life coming to this world in human form. But as the weeks proceed we will experience a range of emotions.
For some it will be mostly sad with happiness sprinkled in. Bleeding hearts lurk behind smiles. Sadness roars to life when you least expect it. For other’s it will be mostly happy, with a few undertones of sadness throughout the melody. I’ve experienced both kinds of holidays, but I’m learning to give voice to each set of emotions. My happiness is richer when I feel the sadness, and my sadness feels less dark when I acknowledge my happiness.
For many of us, though, the holidays are riddled with anxiety. Are we doing enough? Did we buy the right gifts? How will we handle the probing questions of Great, great Aunt Matilda?
And then we get anxious because we’re not enjoying the holidays and we wonder where the happiness went. Or we’re sad so we grow anxious about that and wonder if the dark clouds will lift. Our darkness seems even darker in this season of light. Anxiety. It can take over and run rampant in our hearts and mind.
You see, sometimes we think we’re not trusting God when we feel anxious. An absence of anxiety is not the same as trusting God. Trusting God is recognizing the anxiety and then turning to him for hope, consolation, comfort and direction. Anxiety should turn us towards him because it provides us with an opportunity to experience God as our refuge, to pour out our hearts to him, and to practice trusting him.
I found a slip of paper on my nightstand the other day. On it were these words: “Don’t ignore your anxieties, entrust them to God.”
When we entrust our anxieties to the Lord, we then experience our anxiety within the framework of God’s love and security. Trusting God implies absolute confidence and certainty. Things, people, and expectations disappoint, which causes anxiety, but God doesn’t disappoint. When anxiety is great within me, God brings consolation to my soul.
To entrust means to charge with a responsibility or to commit something. Let God be responsible for the thing that is causing you the most anxiety this holiday season. Are you anxious about spending the holidays with someone who disdains everything you hold dear? Entrust your anxieties to God because he’s big enough to handle it, and he cares about your heart. Then look for him throughout the day. Maybe you’ll see evidence of him in the sunrise or the way your breath forms shape as you exhale in the wintery day. Maybe you’ll see evidence of him in the smile in your child’s face, or the private joke shared between you and a loved one.
Anxieties don’t indicate that you don’t trust God, they indicate that you feel less than confident or secure about a situation. Run straight to him for help and guidance. He is good and he will carry you. You simply need to entrust your worries to him and let him do his thing. Have confidence, not in yourself, but in God’s ability to work on your behalf by providing you with comfort and peace.
God is the comforter of our souls. So as you step into this week and know that anxiety lurks, entrust it to him and trust him to provide you with peace.
*Write 3 things you are happy for this holiday season.
*Write 3 things that cause you anxiety.
*Entrust those 3 things to God. And when those three things cause your heart to race, remind yourself that they are God’s responsibility. Your’s is to let him do his job.
*Then receive the peace that he gives and smile.
The anxieties I refer to are not debilitating anxieties. If you are experiencing anxiety that prevents you from functioning in your daily life, please see a trusted healthcare provider.