Worry, anxiety, and stress seem to knock on doors quite often. As a single mom I assure you that these unwanted pests seem to be at my door quite often. I know that if I feed these feelings I can almost always count on being miserable and making those around me miserable. But worry creates confusion and it suggests we are not trusting God.
It’s not easy to stop worrying but I have found that these four things can help:
1. Lay all requests before God with thanksgiving. This is the first step in battling thoughts which is where feelings are stirred and trouble begins.
2. It’s a good idea to consider the blessings in our lives.
3. Do something nice for someone else because it takes our mind off ourselves.
4. Another great idea that works well for me is to run away for the day and enjoy God’s beautiful creation. My daughter and I will take off for the beach, a park or somewhere different. We might simply want to have a photo shoot which allows us to really capture and appreciate nature, each other, and the simple things in life.
Doubt is an ugly word. It implies a belief that something most likely will never come to pass. When hope has not been met, it can leave us in doubt and at worse sinking deep into a sea of despair. Doubt over time can choke our hope, especially when years have fled without answers, we have lost our youth, and when sorrow occurs. There is no cure for doubt as it can attack at any time, but if we keep truth before us it can smother the doubt that is hostile to our hopes. Doubt is deceitful. Hope is promising.
Scripture for encouragement:
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:114
“The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,” Titus 1:2
“Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:5
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
“Sustain me, my God, according to Your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.” Psalm 119:116
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19
Note: Scripture from NIV
Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.
Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening’s petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,” if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when his love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, “Say unto my soul I am thy salvation.” I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus’ love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. “Say unto my soul.” Lord, do thou say it! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Lord, if thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, “I am thy salvation.” Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am thine, and that thou art mine.
Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin:
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein;
Invisible and visible,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen
Our joy that hath no end.
~ St. John of Damascus
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. John 11:25-26.
While prayer should never be limited to the morning, it’s best to start the day with thoughtful prayer. Take a moment, no matter how brief, and begin in prayer. There is no special way to pray and no perfect stance. But consider offering praise and thanksgiving as a way to keep you grateful for your many blessings. Ask for forgiveness so prayers are not hindered. Pray for others and pray for yourself.
Challenge: Smile at someone today, even if you do not feel like it. Try to keep the frown at home.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right. Someone down the line will criticize you anyway.”
Stop listening to the negative voices around you and consider these four important things:
1. Seek God continually and learn to be a student of His Word. As a child of God you are in a wonderful position. You have access to the Throne of Grace, to the King of kings, and to a wealth of valuable instruction found in the Word of God which He uses to help guide and teach you.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NIV)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)
2. Pray often and act in accordance with the belief that your prayers will be answered. In order to act it helps to have a plan which can keep us motivated. So pray over what is pressed upon your heart and ask God to help you create a plan. Give yourself deadlines that are reasonable. Please understand that our timing is not God’s timing. So pray, plan, and act, but be willing to adjust your plans if necessary. His timing is always best and He might lead you in a direction that is not what you expect, but far better.
3. Actively fight the temptation to doubt. One of the biggest obstacles most of us face is the overflow of negative thoughts that relentlessly flood our minds. If we do not actively battle the voices of negativity and doubt, we will begin to believe them. When we begin to give them credit they prevent us from participating in those things that will lead us closer to our dreams. You can fight them by memorizing Scripture, reading motivational books that should lead you back to God and not to them or to self, and by limiting your time with those who continually bring you down.
Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:21-22 (NIV)
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be who God created you to be.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. It is no good trying to ‘be myself’ without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call ‘Myself’ becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop.” He went on to say, “I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call ‘me’ can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
When we are no longer influenced by people and the world around us and seek Him first, we will truly be able to become what our Creator meant for us to be. When we compare ourselves to others (which tends to be human nature) we begin to judge who we are and others. Do not let fears, doubts, your past, age, beauty, etc. define you. It does not matter unless you believe it does.
The Essential Journey, A 90-day ChallengeMy new book, "The Essential Journey, A 90-day Challenge" will be available through Amazon on August 1, 2013. Won't you join me in a 90-day challenge to encourage thoughtful living. Isn't it time you lived a life you love? Traci Lea LaRussa
“Madonna” by Gwendolyn Rodriguez