Just this week I found my heart racing with worry. My heart felt like it was burning inside of me, not with passion or joy, but with anxiety. I worried about friends who are struggling, about future decisions for our family, about relationships that need more than I have to give, about messing our kids up with my own issues.
Where do you go when that feeling of anxiety bubbles up from within? What do you do with your fears? How do you unwind your heart when it gets wound up in worry?
“When my heart is overwhelmed within me, take me to the ROCK that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
This verse has become an intimate place of prayer for me in times of anxiety and fear. It is engrained in the most real, raw places of my heart because in the most real and raw times of my life, I have found it to offer me a clear vision of who God is. He is the strong, trustworthy rock, that is higher than my circumstances, higher than my fears, higher than my biggest obstacles in life. And He invites me to be firmly settled in that high place with Him. (Ephesians 2:6)
As this prayer comes out of mouth in my times of trouble, it’s with an expectation attached to it: an expectation that He will deliver me from my distress. (Psalm 18) He will take me to a higher place. A place that is higher than the waters that rise around me. To a place where my fears can rest, where my anxiety can be absorbed into His strength. To a place where my heaviest burdens find rest in the peace of God that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
Here are a few thoughts on how to connect with God in the midst of the rising waters of fear, anxiety and worry.
1. Acknowledge your need. i.e. I am overwhelmed, in need of peace. I am afraid, in need of truth. I am downcast, in need of joy. I am confused, in need of wisdom. Listen to your emotions and what they are saying about the condition of your heart in the moment of need and be honest with God about those things.
2. Call on God with confidence. I love that in this verse, the psalmist doesn’t flail around in his discouragement, staying in that place of distress. He says – “Whoa. I’m in over my head and I need a ROCK to stand on, like NOW!” He clearly sees that there is a place that is higher than his current pit and He trusts God to take Him there. God has been to this guy, by name, a refuge and a tower of strength (Psalm 61:3). He has a testimony of knowing God to be his safe place, and from that personal history with God, he calls on Him with confidence. Look back and remember a time when God has been faithful to you (or even to someone you know) and from a place of testimony, say boldly, “Do it again, God! Be my refuge again, today, right now!” He delights when we call upon Him with faith. (Hebrews 11:6)
3. As He REVEALS, you RESPOND. If you ask God to take you to the ROCK, then follow as He leads you there. As I call on Him in my times of distress, He is often revealing one of these three things. Could it be that He is doing a similar work of “revealing” in your situation?
- revealing more of His nature and His character (He is the ROCK…ie. His strength, His faithfulness, His love, His compassion) so that we can grab ahold of Him with confidence during hard times and good times alike. Knowing His character in times like these builds our testimony of who we know Him to be…which builds our ability to worship authentically out of an overflow of deepened intimacy.
- revealing a place of sin that needs to be admitted and turned from in order to receive His peace and covering (this is called conviction and repentance…He is always gentle when He convicts our hearts of sin…it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance Rom.2:4).
- revealing a new perspective that will make room to see the peace and provision He’s already put in front of you. He loves to give us eyes to see from the viewpoint of heaven. Seeing our lives with eyes of eternity allows us to rest in His sovereignty even in the hardest of times.
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
God loves to speak to us and take us out of the deep waters of fear, worry or stress and place our feet on solid ground of His peace. He replaces our fear with faith and He gives us a broad place to stand on the Rock that is higher than our present fears and worries.
“…Christ Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:20
What are ways that God has met you in times of fear or worry?