Have you ever seen a giant Sequoia tree? They are some of the tallest trees in the world. They’re also some of the fastest growing trees, especially when they’re young. They can grow up to six feet per year. Not only do they grow tall, they also grow wide. These are the trees that you’ve seen pictures of cars driving through them. Their root system is shallow though. It grows out instead of down. They don’t have a tap root. Instead they have thousands of tiny roots that multiply, grow out and around the tree and can cover up to an acre of land.
If you think about it, they’re a lot like our anxious thoughts. Those type of thoughts grow quickly in our mind, they take up a lot of space and infect almost every part of our life. The more we entertain those thoughts, the more they grow. Before you know it, you’ve given up a huge portion of your mind and your life to worrying about things that may or may not happen. Because these thoughts take up so much space, they require a lot to feed them. That’s why they infect every area of your mind as they multiply and grow. The good news is that their root systems are shallow and they can be uprooted.
Psalm 94:19 says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me” (AMP). Spending time in God’s Word, resting in His presence and worshiping Him are all ways you can uproot those anxious thoughts. Colossians 2:7 tell us to let our roots grow down deeply into God. When we do that, our lives won’t be uprooted by anxious thoughts because there is no room for them. When I start to get anxious about things, I have to remember to quit comparing things against my abilities. Instead, I feed myself on God’s Word and compare those same problems to God. I then realize He is greater than whatever I’m facing.
Photo by Vitto Sommella on Unsplash
How do you handle stress or bad news? I’m the type of person who replays the situation over and over in my head trying to find a solution. Each time that I don’t find one, the stress seems to get heavier. I begin to feel tired, but I can’t sleep because I’m too worked up. I try to think of something else, but I can’t. My mind fixated on the problem and all of its consequences. I even start to question myself as to why I wasn’t prepared for this. I keep concentrating on the problem until I remember that God knows the answer.
To help my mind make the shift, I play praise and worship music. I love how it invites the presence of God into the place where I am, and how it shifts my attention from how big the problem is to how big God is. From deep within me, I begin to thank God for all He has done in my life, for all He has provided and for all He is going to do. As I do that, i give the responsibility of finding the solution over to Him. I don’t have to have control of the situation or my future because it’s in His hands.
I know that’s easier said than done, but the truth is He is more capable of working out His will in my life than I am. He is able to use whatever it is that’s stressing me out for my good. By giving it to Him, I release myself of the stress of having to find a solution and the fear of making the wrong choice. I spend time reminding God of all the times in my life when He has intervened or taken what I thought was a bad thing and turned into something good. The power of praise and prayer changes everything.
David knew that. In Psalm 30:4 he wrote, “Sing praise to the Lord, all his faithful people! Remember what the Holy One has done, and give him thanks!” (GNT) He then reminds us that mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We don’t have to fear what tomorrow will bring when we place it in a His hands. When we learn to pray and give praise in these times, we can wake up joyful because we are trusting our unknown future to the God we know.
Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash
If you are like me, worry has a tendency to creep in from time to time. I look at the future, and my mind begins to play scenario after scenario of what might happen. Usually, it’s always the worst case scenarios. I begin to stress and then get worried to the point that it keeps me up and dominates my thoughts. My worry comes from not knowing what the future holds. I like to plan and prepare, and when I can’t do that, stress takes over.
Worry also comes from a lack of trust in God. When I get overly anxious, it means that I don’t trust God with my future. Sometimes we are good at giving Him our past and our present, but struggle to give Him our future. God knows what your future holds, and He’s even planned it out. He is not going to be surprised by what happens in your life or how each situation will unfold. That’s why we’ve got to learn to trust Him when it comes to our future.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). It’s not God’s responsibility to relieve you of your worry. It’s your responsibility to trust Him with your future, and to give it to Him. It’s quite a release to hand the burden of the unknown off to Him. I can tell you that I’d rather give up my stress than my sleep. I found a way to do that by learning to trust God with the unknown.
Releasing the burden of the unknown takes you praying, “God, i don’t know what the future holds, but you do. I’m going to trust that your plan for my life is better than my plan. I give you my future. I release it to you. I don’t want to carry this burden anymore. Please take it and help me to trust you more.” When I prayed that prayer and meant it, my worry left. When it tried to come back, I told it to talk to God because my future was in His hands. Doing that repeatedly, until it was ingrained in my mind, is how I was released from the worry and stress of the burden of the unknown.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.
I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”
I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives.
When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides