"Love God, all you saints;
God takes care of all who stay close to him,
But he pays back in full
those arrogant enough to go it alone.
Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up.
Expect God to get here soon."
Psalm 31:23-24 (The Message)
I have been disobedient lately. I have been spending an unhealthy amount of time worrying about the future. I have been reminded again that it is easier said than done to not put my trust in earthly things--like our financial system. Everyone on my mother's side of the family and so very many of our precious friends are linked in some way to the American auto industry. My grandfather worked for General Motors for decades. He started out on the line and worked his way up the chain of command. When he retired, he had a pension that allowed him and my grandmother (also a GM retiree) to live comfortably. Neither one of them had finished their high school education. But they lived out the American dream of working hard and achieving a lifestyle that neither one of their parents could have dreamed of. And now that once seemingly infallible backbone of our economy is on the brink of collapse.
I have found myself on the verge of panic over our country's moral state. Prime time is pure poison to all the values that Rob and I are trying to instill in our children. Story lines that completely mock the holiness of God are rampantly woven throughout so many. And if the show is actually worth watching, I still have to be vigilant about the commercials that come on. Sensual images abound in front of the eyes of my children and me, causing all of us to think thoughts that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.
I have wondered what will become of us as a nation. And I have panicked. Yes. At night, lying in my bed with my mind racing over the future my children will be handed, I have been disobedient to Psalm 37:8:
"Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil."
What is the difference between fretting and concern? I believe that we can be concerned about something and not be disobedient. For example, if we are parenting a child that seems to be drawn to destructive behaviors, we have every right to be concerned. We have every right to take that concern to the Lord as many times as we need to, crying through our tears. Where I think concern turns into fretting is when I start doubting that the Lord is still securely on His throne, able to use that situation for His glory.
My fretting has led to a general state of sadness. It has robbed me of my joy. I have allowed my mind to spew over the worst possible scenarios and have come to believe they could really happen. They might. But so many times, I do not remind myself that my God is the God of hope.
I forget that my Creator ordained my birth in 1968 so that I would be a forty-year-old woman with three children in 2008. As He formed me together in my mother's womb, before she even knew that she was pregnant, He saw me. He has had a plan for my life since before creation began. And, on the authority of His Word, His power is NEVER diminished.
So what if we are to enter a financial desert in this nation? What if all we had relied on to carry us through retirement dries up? In my fretting, I forget that He is the manna maker and gives water out of solid rock. Where do I look for my help? A 401K? A pension that was promised? A business that was once flourishing and now is in bankruptcy or is almost there? Have I put my trust in those things which I poured my whole life into? Or is my trust in the One who will provide?
Fretting robs the praise from my lips; my God lives in those praises from my mouth! Is it any wonder that when I don't praise Him for a seemingly impossible situation that I can't shake the depression? This is the truth:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah --Psalm 46 (NIV)
My beloved sisters, when fretting threatens to squelch our hope, we need to speak the truth out loud. We need to write Scripture down and carry it on notecards with us at all times. Whenever worrying comes, we need to reach for the living, breathing Word of God that is able to rescue you and me from our fears. His arm is not too short to save us. We are the apple of His eye. Our Abba is firmly on the throne today, able to handle the entire earth giving way and the mountains falling into the heart of the sea. Surely He who does not allow a sparrow to fall from the sky apart from His will watches over you and me today. Let's be of good courage! Our God reigns!
Jesus, forgive me for thoughts that diminish Your power in my mind. You promise that You will never leave me or forsake me. King David said as an old man that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Do not let me believe the lie that You are powerless. You are El Shaddai--You are the Almighty One and NOTHING is impossible for You. Let me leave this sackcloth of worry that I have been wearing and exchange it for Your joy--the kind of joy that squelches any thoughts of terror and unbelief I may have. You are My hiding place.