What a stressful year it has been. I won’t go into all of the details, but for the past year my husband has been laid off. Needless to say, that has caused a lot of stress. But as always, God has been faithful. He has provided for us in amazing ways during that time and to be honest we lack nothing. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I know I wasn’t always as confident in God’s provision as I should be by this point in my life. I would tell myself that I trusted God to provide, but my blood pressure and my stomach issues said that I was probably still stressing over our situation more than I wanted to admit.
I have had good days and bad days dealing with the stress and the questions. The days I did best though were always the days when I took the time to spend time with God and get perspective on my situation. Those quiet times with God spent praying and feeding on His word. Those times when I took time to drink in the truths of God, who He is, and how much He loves me. Those times when I would open my heart to God, with all of my questions and fears, and He would answer with beautiful truths and reminders that He has been faithful before and He’ll be faithful again, reminders that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and reminders that He is ultimately in control and He has it all under control. What a great God I serve!
Recently, I’ve been working on a study of the Psalms. As a musician, I’ve always been in love with the beauty of the poetry in the book. I’ve also always been attracted to the raw honesty of the book, the deep life questions and heart-felt prayers of the writers. I’ve always loved the pattern of so many of the psalms that started with praise, threw out some tough life questions and doubts, and ended with praise as the writer realized the sufficiency of God to meet all of their needs.
In particular, I’ve always related very strongly to the psalms of David since we can know his story. In Psalm 59, we see him go straight to his fears and then remind himself of God’s power and justice as he is faced with Saul’s men who have been sent to find him so Saul can have him killed. In Psalm 57, we see him take comfort in the shelter of God’s love as he hides from Saul once again in a cave. In Psalm 51, we get to see an intimate picture of repentance as David is confronted with his sin with Bathsheba and he draws on the forgiving nature of God. And in Psalm 3 we see him drawing comfort from the fact that God is always in control as he runs for his life from his own son who is trying to forcefully take the throne.
David’s life was certainly filled with a lot of stress! And I guarantee he had a lot of questions for God during his lifetime. Let’s face it, he was promised this kingship by God Himself and yet it didn’t always come easily. He had to walk through a lot of hardships to gain the promise and maintain the promise. We have the same struggle, don’t we? We know we have the promises of God, but the situations that arise in life can easily get us distracted. We are told that, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:9) But the stresses of life cloud our vision of how God will provide the way and the means for us to do those good things. We know that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 4:9) Yet, we wonder if that’s really true for our latest poor choices. We can know Paul’s words to the Philippians that, “my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) But we begin to doubt that when we lose our steady source of income and our financial plan doesn’t work out.
So, how do we overcome this cycle of fear and doubt? The same way the psalmists did. Lay out your requests to God, including your questions and doubts, and then spend time every day soaking in the truth of God’s word. You’ll be amazed at what a faithful and loving teacher the Holy Spirit can be. I’m always amazed at the power that our thoughts can have on us. So, feed your thoughts with God’s word so that it’s truth you find yourself repeating to yourself in times of stress and doubt. Finally, remember that getting to know God’s word is not a once and done thing. It is more like our need for food and water. We need a steady diet of truth to be at our best.