If you’re struggling with anxious thoughts right now, you are not alone. It feels like our world is screaming for help. The pandemic is barely over, and now earthquakes, floods, fires, and wars are taking their toll on the human race.
My heart breaks over the news from the Middle East this week. No one has a clue on how far the conflict will spread or what the eventual outcome will be. I have an airline ticket to fly to Egypt on November 5th for our mission agency’s staff conference, but who knows what will transpire by then?
In the midst of global uncertainty, it’s easy to let anxious thoughts take control of our minds.
The what-ifs can send our thoughts racing a thousand different directions, and none of them lead to a helpful, healthy place. Now’s the time to reel in our anxious thoughts and refocus them on the truth of God’s Word. Here’s a great verse on which to meditate.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your comfort delights my soul. (Psalm 94:19 NASB)
In the original language, the word translated “anxious” implies “perplexing” and “various.” It paints the picture of a tree with branches growing here and there and twisting together in places. It suggests thoughts that are distracting, vain, useless, confusing, secretive, and even polluted.
Would you agree that this sounds like a fair representation of the thoughts that race through our minds? Certainly we have thoughts that are good and pure and true, but we all wrestle with the other kinds too. Allowing them to run rampant only breeds more of the same. That’s what the psalmist meant when he said his anxious thoughts multiplied within him.
The end result of anxious thoughts allowed to run wild is – are your ready?—stinkin’ thinkin.’
Rampant, anxious thoughts are toxic. They shape our beliefs, influence our behaviors, and determine our destiny. They steal our joy, turn us into angry or fearful or downcast people, keep us awake at night, cause us to lose our appetite or gorge on comfort food, and ultimately make us sick. That’s why we have to bring them into captivity and align them with God’s truth.
The psalmist recognized the importance of dealing with his various and perplexing thoughts. Rather than allow them to continue distracting him and dividing his mind, he turned to God. “Your comfort delights my soul,” he wrote.
The word “comfort” in this context refers to God’s promises. So, the writer had learned how to lasso his anxious thoughts and bring them to focus on God’s promises. He replaced the many vain, useless, and confusing thoughts with those he knew to be true and right.
The writer also trained his anxious thoughts to focus on the truth of God’s character. Psalm 119:76 says,“Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant.” He reigned his racing thoughts in to focus on God’s attributes—in this case, His unfailing love.
Camping his thoughts on God’s promises and character brought delight to the writer’s soul.
That word “delight” means to stroke or to soothe. It’s the same word used in Isaiah 66:11 which refers to an infant drinking at its mother’s breast. A hungry baby cries louder and grows more anxious until his mother puts him to her breast. This satisfies the infant and soothes him, often into a peaceful sleep.
Watching the Middle East unravel can easily cause anxious thoughts to multiply within us. Let’s not give fear free reign.
Instead, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us control our thoughts by focusing on God’s promises to be faithful, to care for us, to never forsake us, and to return someday as conquering King. Let’s also focus on His promises to be faithful, good, sovereign, and victorious.
May I pray for you?
“Heavenly Father, You know the uncertainty the world faces today. You also know our tendency to let anxious thoughts rule our minds. Please help us to stay focused on Your truth. May Your comforts delight our soul as we meditate on Your promises and Your character. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
This song by the Afters reminds us that we need not fear because God is trustworthy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMmmbJlWhtk