Anxious? Looking for a Refuge?

Anxious? Looking for a Refuge?

I woke at 1:30 AM. Fully alert and rehashing the events from the previous day. I was angry, anxious, and agitated by people’s lack of integrity. Their unwillingness to be accountable for their actions and words.

I choreographed responses, planned for the potential encounter, and waited for sleep to return.

The bedside alarm clock measured the minutes: 2:30… 3:30… 3:45. When finally, my mind calmed enough to allow me to fall back to sleep. Waking again to the sound of our dog jumping off the bed, his ID tags acting as an alarm as they jingled against his collar. It was 5:20 AM and I gave up the notion of sleep.

Once on my feet, I made my way to my office. It was time to talk with God.

Talking with God

Could It Be God Who Stirs Me from Sleep?God and I have an understanding. He allows me to vent, wrestle, and fret, and I allow Him to sort out the details. But this morning, I didn’t want to hear rational, biblical truth. I wanted His acknowledgment that humanity is a mess and perhaps even validation that in heaven, He won’t allow the same brokenness to prevail.

I sat quietly in my office chair and Jesus gentle reminded me of a scripture in the book of John. It states:

I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (The Living Bible)

Again, biblical truth was not what I wanted to hear. Yet there it was, written in black and white across the pages of my Bible and I was forced to sit with it, mull it over and then pray.

And as I prayed, I moved beyond my emotions, laying my angst at the base of His cross. In that process, I found something interesting happening to my mind. Peace replaced worry. Confidence replaced fear. I was able to move from a place of anger to forgiveness. My anxiety disappeared.

Do you ever wrestle with the uncertainty life throws at you? Does your mental alarm clock wake you out of a peaceful slumber only to torment you with rehearsing the past? I’m hoping someone out there shares my early morning angst, my grappling with God’s truth.

If you are a fellow wrestler, then perhaps you will be interested in a few things I am learning to consider while waiting for the sun to rise.

God Offers Peace when We Feel Anxious

God can handle my doubts, my criticisms, and my cries of desperation.

During those midnight moments of restlessness, I begin to question God’s motives. If He loves me, why would He allow bad things, mean people, and hard circumstances to intersect my life? Yet in the light of morning, His truth becomes clear.

God isn’t a genie that I can summon at my beck and call. He doesn’t remove the bad in my life just because I pray. Sometimes those obstacles are the very things that help mature my character and grow my faith. Bad stuff, challenging days, and unfair circumstances are guaranteed to occur. And when you are laying wide-eyed contemplating your plan to navigate around them, or perhaps negotiating with yourself a path through them, remember God is present to help you stand and face the giants that invade your mind.

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (The Message)

God never promised fair, easy, or comfortable. But He does promise to be with us—present and available.

In the darkness, my mind can produce a pit of emotions. When I allow them to take control and direct my beliefs, I slide deeper into my mental chasm and eventually lose sight of the surface. I lose sight of God.

Have you ever found yourself walking around in a pit? The light creeps over the edges casting shadows on the dirt walls. Mental monsters appear, guarding the entrance to the hole, keeping you buried by your feelings and endless fears. In time, the sun moves, darkness fills the hole, and you’re unable to catch your breath or take a step towards the freedom God offers.

But what if you stopped and refocused on God? What if you began to see your pit for what it is – the enemy’s futile attempt to keep you buried in the lies he attempts to package as self-control and self-sufficiency?How to Practice Peace when the World Feels Chaotic

You are not controlled by your emotions. You are not hopelessly trapped. You can filter your thoughts through God’s truth and take the first steps towards His promised freedom.

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)

God always provides. However, be prepared, His solutions may not look like what you’ve planned, expected, or want for your life.

The First Step Is Obedience

In the morning, as I’ve completed my night-long planning and am ready for God’s stamp of approval, I am often surprised to encounter a sense of discontent. It’s almost like God is gently saying, “I’ve got a different plan.” But, that’s not what I want to hear. I’ve worked hard to define my steps, and being the Type-A that I am, I have a corresponding timeline developed to support its implementation.

Yet, God patiently redirects my work and I begin to listen to His voice. He asks me to trust Him with the details, to believe Him for the outcomes, and as He makes His plan clear, my heart shifts from anxiety to calm.

I am learning the very first step I have to take is a step of obedience. A step of surrender, agreeing with God that His ways are better and that He is wiser than I am.

This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (The Living Bible)

I hope the next time you are laying awake at night struggling with all the challenges of this life, you remember that God can handle your doubts. His plans far exceed your plans and He always provides.

Tonight, I plan to curl up with my husband, the dog laying at our feet, and enjoy uninterrupted sleep until the morning arrives.

But, if by some small chance God has something to share, another biblical truth to reframe my thoughts, I hope He can wait until closer to 4:00 AM.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances or stuck in a rut, we encourage you to listen to this podcast episode of This Grit and Grace Life: You Don’t Have To Stay Stuck Anymore – 160

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