Author | Jamie
Life has felt so hard recently. The obvious uncertainty of our future mixed with the emotional fatigue of making major decisions have left me battered and bruised. I have often found myself in a pit of confusion and doubt and self-pity. Every once in a while, a moment of clarity sets in, and I am able to see my life for what it actually is – fabulous. When I consider the lives of believers throughout the world and across the ages, I realize that I am giving a bit of uncertainty the power to completely unnerve me.
I am giving a bit of uncertainty the power to completely unnerve me.
Battlefield of the Mind
The battlefield is surely in the mind, isn’t it?
There isn’t a literal war raging around me, yet in talking to me recently, you would have been tempted to believe there was. Real grenades have not been flung at my home, but the enemy of my soul has been busily at work shooting his flaming arrows into my thoughts. He is always on the prowl, seeking someone to devour. All the changes afoot recently have made me an easy target.
The other day I wrote about some of the arguments in my mind (read “Up in the Air”) that have been slamming me. There are more, but I’ll save you from listening to them blow by blow. Suffice it to say, truth has been elusive. It has been difficult to recall much of what I know about God or even His past mercies in my life. All I can think of are the doubts, and those are easy to replay. Over and over.
The Battlefield of Prayer
As I was working through a Bible study recently, I came across this verse from Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I’ve been praying a bunch lately. That anxious, begging type of prayer. The kind of petitioning of God that doesn’t lead to peace but is really just an excuse to worry, excessively. But it doesn’t feel wrong because, ya know, I’m praying.
God is a gracious and patient Father and lovingly listens to all my prayers. Then, also in love, He points me to a different way. “Is it peace that you want, my child? Bring all your requests and concerns to me, but pepper it with thanksgiving. It will make it easier to not be anxious. It will guard your heart and your mind. It’s a better way.”
I’ll tell you, I fully intend to give God thanks when He has finished working out this big ole mess in front of me. But why would I thank Him before He’s finished the job? That seems weird. However, I’m desperate. The lack of peace and the mental turmoil are slowly wearing me down. I’ve gotta try something!
I’ll tell you, I fully intend to give God thanks when He has finished working out this big ole mess in front of me. But why would I thank Him before He’s finished the job?
How about you? Is the struggle in your mind getting the best of you? Are the doubts and fears and uncertainties of your life stealing your energy and your smile? Is it hard to be patient with those nearest to you?
Will you join me in trying something different? First, let’s just confess to Jesus that we’re in a bad pattern and need His help. Can we ask Him to empower us to choose thankfulness for the gifts right in front of us today, even though the future holds a lot of unknowns? Can we make a small step and thank Him for the sunshine, the smile from a friend, the small beginnings of something new? As the Holy Spirit causes that thanksgiving to settle into our hearts, we can praise Him for what He supplies today instead of focusing on all the gifts He still needs to give? I think it might make a difference.
Can we ask Him to empower us to choose thankfulness for the gifts right in front of us today, even though the future holds a lot of unknowns?
I’d love to know how that works for you, so please encourage me by sharing your experience in the comments below:
Dear Sister in Christ,
I hear you and feel you. As we have faced some insanely crazy times over the last months, God has pushed and pulled on me. I have been stretched and blessed. I have learned to really listen and then I have failed to listen. I have learned to capture my thoughts when they go sinful and let God change them, and I have let those thoughts run rampant! I wholeheartedly agree a thankful heart can change my perspective and remind me of what I have! I am so abundantly greatful that I am forgiven over and over again. Thanks for sharing! Prayers for your family!
It’s such a journey, isn’t it? God is doing so much in the midst of the struggle. He is loving and forgiving and drawing me near in all of it. Thanks for highlighting that truth.
My dear friend I am right there with you! I think the best thing for us to do is pray and remember the many, many blessings that God has given us. I to am struggling with finding the right path for my life … Hoping the answer will just “happen” . But for now I will continue to pray for guidance and I’ll do the same for you . Love ya!
God is definitely present in the midst of the struggle. I’ll pray that God draws you close as you seek His direction. I know He loves you so much. And we do, too!
Jaimie thanks for sharing and making me feel better knowing I am not the only one. Uncertainty and fear has always been on my mind and sometimes is so powerful that shuts me down, feeling worthless and helpless. I am constantly bringing my thoughts fears to the cross and his promises that if HE is with me whom or what can be against me? He who started the work in me will finish it. Let me tell you sister The Lion is on the move! He gives us the power to overcome it all through His Holy Spirit who is in us! Keep the good fight He Has already won. Your family is blessed and loved! Hugs
I love the way you are clinging to his promises. The Lord is a mighty warrior, and he fights for us. I love it that he trains our hands for battle, too. He’s making us stronger, sister! Much love!
During the Lenten season Pastor Mueller is using the topic “Restart.” On the Peace website there are videos from Feb. 17 & Feb. 24. Two members of the congregation have shared their experiences of having to “restart” their lives. How generous of them to share their stories with us. I feel it gives us encouragement as we pray & deal with the struggles we have. God’s blessings to you & your family.
Sharing our stories with each other makes such a difference, doesn’t it? It helps me so much to hear what God is doing in the lives of other people – through the struggles and the victories. Glad to hear you are experiencing this, too.
I have a sign posted by my desk: “As of today, you have survived 100% of your worst days.” I find it a great invitation to thankfulness and also a reminder that the mess of life comes and goes, but the goodness of God endures forever.
Another technique that I learned a lot of years ago is this. Ask yourself: Are you hungry? Food in the house for today? Roof over your head for today? Anything really horrible happening RIGHT NOW? Normally, the answer is no to all of these questions, which, again, calls forth thankfulness, but also reminds me that GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES, BUT NOT IN ADVANCE! Life is meant to be lived in the present.
Finally, sometimes the horrible feeling of being mired in chaos is brought on by failure to stop and “smell the flowers.” This morning was one of those chaotic ones. I couldn’t find my dress shoes OR my car keys (you would think I had 4 kids to prep for church, hmmm?), so once AGAIN I was late for Sunday school and I did not want to walk in late. So I sat in my car for 20 minutes watching a tree grow, which led me to being grateful for the created gifts of God, and for the time to admire them. I am embarrassed to say that I cannot remember the last time I took 20 minutes to do this. I have now been to worship, to Mickey D’s for brunch, and to my job for an hour and a half. I am about to go home to finish out my Sunday, and the peace is still with me. Wow.
I hate being a slow learner – God has to teach me these things over and over again. But I am so grateful for the patience of God who continues to nurture my soul.
This is wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing. I know this feeling of uncertainty is temporary, but it’s good to have some ways to manage it when it starts to get the best of me. Some days all can do is cry, “Lord, have mercy.” Often, though, he provides a little way for me to step out in faith, and I get to see things a different way. It’s nice to hear the ways God is doing this in you.
Oh, Jamie! I feel a Runge memo coming on . . . but I’ll spare you. Just reread what you wrote, my precious young friend. You said it all for me. Thank you!! Our Lord loves you so much and is always just a whisper away.