By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7, ESV
Have you ever faced an insurmountable task? It can feel overwhelming and lead to anxiety. We can feel unequipped--physically, emotionally, and mentally—and then, we start to worry. Our minds fill with what-if questions. What if I fail? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I start and there’s no way back? What if I don’t like the journey?
Several years ago, I stepped into the worship leadership position at my church. I felt excited and scared. What if I messed up? What if I grew prideful? What if I wasn’t the right person for the job? The “what ifs” created a tangled ball of anxiety within my heart. I wanted to steward the position so God would be glorified, but I felt afraid. I knew my struggles with insecurity and pride, yet I knew God opened this door for me to walk through.
There are times in our lives when God will ask us to walk forward into an uncertain unknown. We can’t be assured of a positive outcome. We don’t know what God’s vision of success will look like as we obey. All we know is we must walk forward because he called us to do so.
Sibling rivalry laid the foundation for a rocky relationship between Jacob and Esau, which resulted in Jacob fleeing his homeland after he deceived both his brother and his father. In Genesis 31, God commands Jacob to return home after twenty years of absence. Jacob didn’t leave home on good terms with his brother and his “what if” led to anxiety of heart about seeing his brother again. Yet, return he must because God said go. Jacob clung to the promise God gave him which was to be with Jacob and to bless him.
We are promised God’s presence. He is our comfort and joy in the middle of good times and bad times. Our lives can be filled with circumstances that create difficulties in peace in our hearts. We wonder if we will have enough money at the end of the month to pay all our bills. We wonder if the medical tests will bear dreadful news. We wonder if our kids will make wise decisions or foolish ones. All these wonderings are a short step away from anxious thoughts. But we can remember the Lord is near us even when our hearts ache and when our hearts soar.
In this passage from Philippians, Paul instructs us to rejoice and remember. Remembering the Lord’s faithfulness, goodness, and promises prompt us to rejoice. He promises to return one day, and this hope helps us be ready and watching for his return. We can refocus our anxious thoughts when we remember and rejoice.
Praying, instead of wondering and worrying, can take the focus off our difficulties and put it on the power of God to strengthen us so we face our hardships with a heart firmly rooted in trusting God. Through prayer, we can release our anxieties to God knowing he will take care of them because he cares for us. When we take to heart his loving, deep, and kind care of us, we can experience the peace that passes all understanding. Peace is not based on emotions but on the solid foundation of our relationship with God.
I know life can induce anxiety. All around us are reasons to be anxious. In those moments, we can allow our anxiousness to drive a wedge between our heart and God’s heart for us, or we can see it as an opportunity to grow our relationship with God through trusting him, sharing our hearts with him, and believing he is for us.
Anxiety is a real issue for me. I keep wondering about the “what ifs.” Help me turn to you and see you for who you are: a promise-making, promise-keeping, awesome, loving, and kind God who cares for my anxieties. Fill me with your peace as I trust in you.
In Jesus’ name,
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Joice Kelly
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.
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