Tag Archive | Anxiety

Complain or Pray?

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.”  Psalm 94:19

 

We awake everyday to anxious thoughts. And, in much greater degrees, the Lord’s consolations and mercies, await us as well.  But, to which do our minds take us most–anxiety or prayer?  That’s what hymnist William Cowper asks in the 18th century song, called Hindrances to Prayer:

 

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy-seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there?

Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above
.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
“Hear what the Lord has done for me
!”

 

Imagine singing this in church?  Maybe we should consider singing it to ourselves, or at least agree with Paul, to

“Pray at all times.” Ephesians 6:18

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving!”
Colossians 4:2

The Big Picture

“Jesus wept. And so the Jews were saying, ‘Behold how He loved him! Could not this man, which opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man [Lazarus] also from dying?'” John 11:35-37

We all have said similar things in response to sorrows and problems which we have.  If Jesus can open the eyes of the blind and raise the dead, then, “couldn’t He have prevented bad things from happening?”

We learn from these verses that although Jesus CAN do the miracle, He often has a larger picture in mind, one which we fail to see because of our own sorrow, grief, or misunderstanding of our life and times.

We can trust the Lord to complete the Big Picture of His will for each of us.

“Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the Glory of God?”  [vs 40]

The Big Picture is the Glory of God.

 

[An initial premise of this blog was to share not only my thoughts, but the invariably deeper, more profound musings of my husband, John.  This post, and several to come, will be posted in a new category, John Owen’s Journal, John on John.]

Hope for More

I haven’t written a post lately, with the intent purpose of keeping the last post on the Lord’s faithfulness foremost on my heart and on the blog.  This beautiful assurance, can comfort us through most anything in this life!

But I still forget!!  Why?!  Probably because I’m focusing on THIS life and not the ultimate plan the Lord has for me, my family, and every single person that has ever lived.  I’m trying to make sense of all the sufferings of others or myself, the trials, pains, difficulties, tragedies, and bad news all around me.  But it doesn’t make sense.  It only confuses matters more when I look for satisfaction, peace, and ‘good feelings’ in this life and bruised world.

Then I recall what I’m supposed to do:

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down the the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found in Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”  2 Peter 3:13,14

It’s not about all that I have or don’t have, the successes and failures, or as Spurgeon says, “the losses and crosses”… for as Peter said,

“…[be] firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  And after you have suffered for a little, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”  I Peter 5:9,10

“…He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away…”

“and He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold I am making all things new.’  And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.‘”  Revelation 20:4, 5

What a Hope we have!!

The song that comes to mind as I determine to keep an eternal perspective, with hope for something much more than this life is, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.”  I know, I’ve posted it before ( Look to Jesus – 2), but it bears repeating.  If not for anyone else, at least, for me.  🙂

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

[Chorus]
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Chorus

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

Chorus

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

 

This is in the Blue Music Box…#19…sung by Mary Barrett!!  Listen and be at peace, knowing our Lord holds us, and this fallen world, in His gracious and loving hands!   Hope!!

Anxious Care

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.”  Psalm 55:22

[Note:  Forgive me for the time lapse between posts.   Family concerns, travels, and unexpected events in life happen..so I frequently find writing and sharing more challenging, and time, too fleeting.   I admire others, many of you, who blog much more consistently than I.   I aspire to be more consistent.]

Today’s verse is among my many favourites.  I’ve written about this before, but what I really want to do is, APPLY it.  Spurgeon reminds us that, in our failure to cast our cares on Jesus, we are prone to sin.   We neglect to trust our Lord, the One who carries our burdens, our diseases, sicknesses, and sins.  We deceive ourselves, thinking our Lord is possibly uninterested, unable, or unaffected by our cares…none of which is true!  This errant thinking can lead to personal striving, anxiety, and distance from our Beloved.  Spurgeon writes:  

“Care, even though exercised on legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin….the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting of ourselves into His place to do for Him what He has undertaken to do for us.

We attempt to think of that which we imagine He will forget.

“..anxious care often leads to acts of sin.  He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself.  This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our Counselor, resorting instead to human wisdom.

“Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love for Him grows cold.  We feel mistrust, and grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our lives ones of self-seeking.  This lack of confidence in God leads us to wander far from Him;

but, if through simple faith in His promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon Him, and are “anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6) because He undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to Him and strengthen us against much temptation.”

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because He trusts in Thee.”  Isaiah 26:3

Beholding Him

And we, who with unveiled faces are beholding (Gk. gaze at and mirror) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  

2 Corinthians 3:18

The things we say, think, and do, are a direct result of our focus.  If we stare all day at TV pundits and fall asleep with ‘breaking news’ as our last mental meal of the day, then our thoughts, both conscious and sub-, easily steer into a deep ravine of fear, despair, and dread.   If we target our spouse, children, boss, or co-workers, zeroing in on their shortcomings or ‘failures’, we give way to dissatisfaction or discouragement.   Even if we gaze intently on ‘spectacular’ Christian teaching, unless it’s clearly centerend on Jesus and Scriptures, our security may unravel, our faith may shake.  Whoever or whatever we focus on becomes a frame of reference, with negative and positive images stamped alternately on our mind, like old film photography.  

Lilias Trotter noted this in her meditation, and pointed to the absolute necessity of “beholding” our Lord:

“If every fraction of a second tells in the film in the camera, while ‘unveiled’ it faces the light, must not something of the same unseen work go on upon our spirits in every moment of unveiling before the Lord?  When Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he took the veil off.  Bare absolute contact with God’s Presence–if our times alone with Him were but that all the time, they would be mighty in their outcome.”  1

We are exhorted to “gaze upon and reflect, as a mirror” with unveiled faces, the image of Jesus.   

How do we do that?

We should allow His image to be impressed on us, as an image is reflected onto film–by exposure!  Place ourselves before the Lord in prayer and meditation, exposing not only our fears, sorrows, or sins before Him, but our very mind—let Him renew our minds, clothe our thoughts with praise in exchange for heaviness, and adorn us with His beauty for our ashes!  When we place ourselves before the Lord and intently seek Him in His Word, HE does the work.  His Spirit will begin to transform us into His image, so we will reflect to others, the very likeness of the Lord–and such will truly be mighty in outcome!  

In his book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer refers to this focus as the“gaze of the soul upon a saving God.”  He discusses the need to develop an “inward habit of beholding God.  A new set of eyes (so to speak) will develop within us enabling us to be looking at God, while our outward eyes are seeing the scenes of this passing world.” 2

The Scriptures also speak of Beholding God: 

They looked at Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm  34:5

“To thee lift I up my eyes, O Thou who are enthroned in the heavens!  Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He shall be gracious to us.” Psalm 123:1-2

[Jesus,] “looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves he gave them to the disciples…”  Matt 14:19

We need to ‘fix our eyes on the Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’, not only to receive hope and mercy, but to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into His image, that others may see Jesus stamped on us.  We are to be a reflection, a photograph, of Jesus to a world without Hope.

Tozer always adds a brief prayer after his writings, and today, I think his prayer can be ours:

“O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to You and be satisfied.  My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see You but dimly.  Be pleased to cleanse me in Your own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon You all the days of my earthly pilgrimage,  Then shall I be prepared to behold You in full splendor in the day when You shall appear to be glorified in Your saints and admired in all them that believe.  Amen.”  2

 

1.  Miraim Huffman Rockness, A Blossom in the Desert, Reflections of Faith in the Art and Writings of LIlias Trotter, Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 2007. Page 181.

2.  A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Camp Hill: Christian Publications, 1982. Pages 83-91.