What to Do About Troubled Thinking
- Friday, March 03, 2006
I have a friend who greets me by asking, “How are you doing?” I answer, “Better than I deserve.” I deserve eternal damnation. Yet even though I have sinned against the God Who created me, He responded by mercifully saving me—by making Him Who knew no sin to be sin for me (II Corinthians 5:21). He sent His Son to pay the penalty of my sin that I might have eternal life (I John 4:9, 10). I have been accepted in the Beloved, because I have been graced by grace (Ephesians 1:6). I will never be condemned for my sin (Romans 8:1). I always have a reason to rejoice because I am always “in Christ,” regardless of my circumstances! Soteriology is not an abstract doctrine. Thinking about the God Who mercifully brought us into His family and gave us a living hope through the cross enables even suffering believers to rejoice (I Peter 1:3-6).
2. God is continually with us (Philippians 4:5). Regardless of our circumstances, “The Lord is at hand.” No matter what difficulties we face, we are assured of His presence. This thought changes everything! Paul realized that meditating on God’s omnipresence results in a “moderation” or gentle forbearance that is known to all men. Perhaps this is why the Psalmist penned, “But it is good for me to draw near to God” (Psalm 73:28). The writer of Hebrews similarly wrote, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear” (Hebrews 13:5, 6).
Many years ago one of my daughters struggled with fear at bedtime. Her voice would tremble as she whispered, “Daddy, I’m so afraid.” My response was always the same: a big hug and a theological review! I would ask her to recite Hebrews 13:5 and 6. (She kept the verse card on her nightstand and soon had it memorized.) I would then ask her what the verse meant, to which she would reply, “Jesus will never leave me.” Then the theological exam began as I asked, “Is Jesus with you now?” “Is Jesus with you at night?” “Is Jesus with you in the dark?” “Is there ever a time that Jesus is not with you?” “Will Jesus ever leave you?” “Do you have any reason to be afraid?” More than once I marveled how a young girl gripped by fear could so peacefully drift to sleep as she thought, “Jesus is with me.” Meditating on God’s presence really can stabilize a worried, fearful believer, whose patient steadfastness becomes a testimony to all.
3. God always hears us (Philippians 4:6). The God Who saved us is not only with us, He promises to always hear us. He commands us, “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known.” We are commanded to pray to Him about everything! Those who look to the Lord find help—even when struggling with anxiety and discouragement (Psalm 34:4, 5). The truth that God hears our prayers frees us to “be careful for nothing.” Quite frankly, the reason we worry is that we don’t pray—or don’t believe that God hears our prayers.
A wise pastor once explained to his congregation: “Worry is a lot like rocking in a rocking chair. It takes time and energy, yet when finished you are right where you started!” Worrying really is a waste of time—especially when we could be praying to our God. Worse yet, worrying is a testimony that we doubt our Father’s ability to care for us (Matthew 6:32). Not only does He care for us, He actually invites us to cast our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7). What a blessing that we can pray to God, for praying frees us from the bondage of worry. Those who meditate on the character of God will soon find themselves replacing worry with prayer.
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