Return to your rest, my soul
Unless you have lived in a cave, you know we are currently in the midst of a pandemic. I’m pretty sure I have gone through all of the feelings one goes through during these types of things. Isolated, fearful, insecure, worried, sad. But I have also felt hope, love, and peace. A few days ago I was really struggling with the sadness of everything. All day I would have tears well up out of nowhere not really knowing why I suddenly felt so dang sad. The day after the sadness was replaced with fear. I spent the new few days spiraling in this fear, leading to the absolute worst anxiety attack I have ever experienced. During this whole time it was like I was in this paralyzing fog filled with all of these horrible fears I couldn't get out of. I would get sucked back in to researching and reading article after article. More information, more knowledge, more control right? What I was really looking for, like most of us are, is a little bit of hope in the midst of the confusion. I was hiding under the illusion that if I wasted my whole day researching and educating myself on this disease I would feel better. That I would find something that would make me feel like everything was going to be ok. Instead of hiding under the perfect Father, the absolute source of hope, I let Satan trick me. I KNEW that God is referred to as our hiding place so many times for a reason. I had experienced that peace and calm that only comes from taking refuge under God. Yet, Satan was keeping me busy obsessing and in the process, I missed out on time I could have been spending with God, more time with my family, more time helping someone else and I completely forgot all the things that God promises when we operate from the Spirit; peace, courage, self-control, patience, and joy. The tricks on him (satan) though, because he just pushed me toward my Father's arms. Because in the midst of all the confusion and fear there was a little whisper, a little pull. I still sought out my Bible, still sought after God, and reached out to my community. The truth of God and truth spoken over me from my cherished friends was really what kept me from completely unraveling.
One morning a day or two after being in this mindset, I opened my Bible again. The next chapter I was reading was Psalms 116. I read "Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." Peace washed over me and something like a switch flipped. I went from anxious and depressed to smiling and felt like laughing. I felt joy. . It didn't make sense how just two minutes before that I was anxious, fearful, sad, and discouraged. But then I remembered a verse from Nehemiah. In Chapter 8 he told the Israelites to not grieve because the joy of the Lord was their strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And it clicked. He wasn't talking about being happy and everything feeling fine and rosy, because it definitely wasn't like this when he spoke this over the Israelites. At that time in the Bible the Israelites were living how they wanted, choosing their way over His, forgetting His promises which led to terrible consequences. They were definitely not happy even though they thought their way would lead to happiness. But instead it led to exile. Sounds familiar doesn't it? And when this was spoken over them, they were participating in a ceremony to renew their commitment to God. Part of this ceremony was coming to realize their mistakes and where they had missed the mark. They were weeping because they were overcome with grief in what they had been doing wrong. While we usually respond to convictions with shame, covering up our wrongs, running from them sometimes, the Israelites did the opposite. They confessed and then praised God. They remembered His goodness, faithfulness, patience, and grace despite their mistakes. They realized how amazing and great God is and they were joyful. This is the joy Nehemiah was referring to. Not happiness as the world defines it, but our joy in the Lord is His constant presence, His patience with us, His never-ending grace, His goodness. And this joy is our protection, our hiding place from the world's constant attempts at filling us with fear and anxiety.
Now I'm not going to say fear and anxiety hasn't tried coming back, but I'm fighting it with truth...and staying off social media.
The truth I know despite what lies get thrown at me is that God is real, He is good, He's not up there sitting back while all these bad things happen. There are things going on that we can't see, being worked out for good and honestly we don't need to, we aren't God. He wars with us, feels with us, but sometimes allows us to go through trials to strengthen us. Yet he doesn’t walk away during those trials, he’s stuck to you like glue. Literally nothing will make Him leave. He is right there beside you to give you strength when you have none left, to encourage you, to remind you that you are loved and cherished, remind you that there is more than you can see, and there is nothing to fear. He's there to remind you that He has given you a place to go that no sickness, no trial, no evil can touch. No matter what fire you are walking through, lean on Jesus. He gives us living water, Ruach, the Holy Spirit to counsel, direct, and guide us out of the fire. Imagine walking through a fire with Jesus by your side, and the Holy Spirit raining down, tamping down the flames to make it easier to walk through. This is what you have access to, what you can take joy in. So lean in, avoid all the junk, seek Jesus, and take joy, so much joy.
Leave a Reply.