Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander through all the possible outcomes of a situation? Before you know it, you can lose a couple of hours or even a day. I’ve been known to lose sleep just thinking about all the “what if’s”. When I was at a dead end in life and was forced to file bankruptcy, I couldn’t find an outcome that were positive. I was worried sick over how hard the next seven years were going to be. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the implications of it, not to mention the embarrassment. I got caught up in an endless cycle of thoughts that were detrimental to my well being.
God knows all too well how our minds work. I think that’s why Jesus dealt with those of us who are constantly living in the future of “what if’s” instead of in the present what is. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (MSG)” He was very plain in that verse and His words hit home with someone like me.
When I give my attention to the “what if’s”, I take away from what God is doing in this very moment. I lose sight of the reality that He is creating in my life today. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I have no clue how my current situation will end, but God does. He knows all too well what tomorrow will bring and what I need to do today in order to prepare for it. When I worry about the possibilities, I miss out on what He’s showing me today in order to help me tomorrow. That’s why He wants me to give my entire attention to what He’s doing right now, not what He’s going to do.
In the second part of that verse, Jesus assures us that God will help us with what comes next. He’s not going to let you walk into a trap and then abandon you. He’s not going to hang you out to dry when times get tough. People may do that, but God never will. Jesus said that He will help you with whatever hard things come up and will be there for you when you need him. Deuteronomy 3:18 says, “The Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I can testify that He is true to His word. He did not abandon me when I needed Him most and He won’t abandon you when you need Him most.
He is merely a prayer away. When the hard times come, simply say, “God, I can’t do this without you. In my own strength, this is impossible, but with you, all things are possible.” Don’t worry about all the worst possible outcomes of what could happen. Find God in the middle of today’s mess instead. Look for Him in the midst of what you’re walking through today. He will be your fortress of refuge, your rock and your shield. Give your mind a rest from the worry. God knows the outcome and whatever it is, He will give you the grace and strength you need to make it through.
As Samuel was retiring after making Saul King, he reminded the people of Israel of their history and pattern. He told how God would deliver them, they would honor Him for a while, they would later abandon Him for other gods, they would hen be captured, they would repent, and then the Lord would deliver them. They had followed this pattern for hundreds of years. It was a vicious cycle they were caught in. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t break it.
It’s easy to read the Bible and wonder what was wrong with them. Why couldn’t they see? But when we look at our own lives, we too follow similar patterns. We have certain things that seem to pull us away from God at various times in our lives. Certain temptations get the best of us. We sin, we feel like we’ve disappointed God so we don’t ask for forgiveness for a while because we feel like we are cheapening grace. After some time passes, we ask God to forgive us, and we go right back into serving Him.
No matter what our pattern is, in those times when we feel like we are far away from God, it’s important to know that God is not far from us. We may feel like we’ve abandoned Him, but know that He has not abandoned you. In I Samuel 12:22, as Samuel was reminding them of their pattern, he said, “The Lord will not abandon His people because that would dishonor His great name” (NLT). Even though they had abandoned Him, He had never abandoned them.
It’s our guilt that makes us feel like God has abandoned us when we sin. It’s our guilt that makes us feel like we don’t deserve forgiveness. But no matter how many times you fail, no matter how badly you sin, no matter how long you’ve walked away from God, or how far you’ve gone, God has not left your side. He’s patiently waiting to restore you. He wants to bring you back to the place of blessing and healing. He wants to re-enter that place of fellowship with you. There’s no set amount of time to wait. His great grace is waiting for you to repent and return to the life He has for you. Don’t let guilt force you to abandon God. Let grace restore you.
If you’ve ever had a baby who slept in a different room than you, you’ve probably used a monitor of some kind. My son is four and we still use one with him. If something happens in the night, he can call out to us and we will head to His room to help him. Even though he can’t see us, he knows that we are close enough to hear him. He has faith that when he needs something, if he calls out to us, we will come meet that need. It’s not so different for us as believers. Our Heavenly Father monitors us and hears us when we call out for help.
Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth. (AMP)” There are times in life when we can’t see God or feel his presence. We may be walking through one of the darkest times of our life, but God has not abandoned us just because we can’t see Him. He is there watching over us, listening to our hearts as we make our way. Often, we try to do it on our own. We want to prove we are strong enough to handle anything, but we don’t have to.
God is waiting for us to call out to Him in our time of need. In Matthew 14, after Jesus fed 5,000 with the five loaves and two fish, Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee by themselves. Verse 24 says, “Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land. (NLT” It was about three o’clock in the morning. It was pitch black and they found themselves in a storm scared to death. You’ve got to know they cried out to God for help in their time of need. They couldn’t see Jesus because of the rain and darkness, but He never lost sight of them.
Verse 25 says that Jesus came walking toward them on the water. Then He spoke the words that He speaks to you and I today, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here! (NLT)” Just like when my son calls out in the night and I call back to him, so Jesus does with us. His voice reassures us we are going to be ok even if we can’t see Him. We can take courage because He will never leave you or forsake you. He won’t let you face the unknown alone. He is near to those who call on Him.
I’m not sure what you will face today or have been facing, but I do know that you are not alone. In your darkness, in your storm of the unknown, Jesus is walking on water calling out to you, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” He sees you even when you can’t see Him. He is working for your good through all of turmoil, through all of the uncertainties and problems. His voice is louder than the storm you’re in. His spirit can give you peace no matter what you’re up against. All you have to do is call out to Him and know that He is near. He won’t let you face this alone.