I really don’t like that feeling. That sense of being overwhelmed.
I woke up early today, much too early. For a few moments, as I lay in bed, unfinished tasks and unsolved problems seemed to parade themselves in front of me. These were followed by a few uncertainties, things about which I am unclear what to do. What had been a restful sleep had suddenly turned into a few moments of anxiety. It was almost as if an accusing voice was saying, "How can you sleep at a time like this? Look at your life and work. You have things to be concerned about! You have reasons to be anxious! Now wake up and worry!"
Do you relate to these feelings?
Perhaps you know all too well these nagging reminders.
The unfinished. "Oh my goodness, how will I ever get all of this done?" You haven’t finished that project or that paper for that class at the university. You haven’t finished preparing that message, that talk, or that sermon. You are not ready for that meeting. You have a special event coming soon at church. Things are not where they need to be in terms of preparation. You feel behind.
(You may be thinking at this point: "Unfinished? I haven’t even started!")
This morning I was thinking about several tasks that are unfinished and one in particular that I haven’t even begun. I really was feeling overwhelmed by the unfinished.
The unanswered. "How will all of this work out? How will I solve these problems?" You have some dilemmas for which you have no answer. You know the situation is not right but you just aren’t sure what to do. These problems can range from annoying situations that keep you, your church, or your company from being effective to heartbreaking situations that involve people you care about deeply. This morning one of these situations flashed through my mind and within seconds everything felt heavy and serious.
The unpleasant. "Yuk. Just the thought of doing that is depressing!" You have an unpleasant conversation to initiate. You are in conflict with someone and you are to meet with that person later in the day. You have a task that you need to begin. The task is something you really have no desire to do. Maybe you are tired of having to do this one more time. Many of us feel a sense of dread when we think about the unpleasant.
Now perhaps you don’t relate to this at all. Yet, I suspect there are a few of us reading these words who very much relate to this.
Anyway, I finally got out of bed. I began to think about a way to deal with this as a person who follows Jesus. I began to think about Paul’s words in Philippians 4. Then I sat down at our kitchen table and read these words from my Bible:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:4-7)
1. The Lord really is very near. He has chosen to be near me and has not gone anywhere. He has not abandoned me to fend for myself.
2. God wishes to receive my requests. In fact, by prayer and petition, he desires that I present everything to him.
3. God is greater than all that is unfinished, unanswered, or unpleasant in my life. My anxiety is reduced when I depend upon him and trust him instead of feeling as if it is all up to me.
4. God wishes to give me a peace that is actually beyond my comprehension and understanding. In Christ Jesus, this peace actually guards my heart, blocking the anxiety that can easily captivate me.
5. As a result, my joy is secure. (How I need to be reminded of this!) My joy is secured by the one who is at work in my life and deals with the matters that I present to him. I can trust him with what is on my heart. After all, he loves me and cares for me.
Do you relate to this? I suspect there are lots of moms/dads, business people, ministers, singles, college students, etc. who very much relate to some of this. Perhaps today, you find that these promises from God really speak to you. Thank God.