Getting to the heart of anxiety and finding peace, Part 3-
Will God really take care of me? Will I be able to take care of myself? Name some things that make you anxious today or situations which tend to stress you. You may have lingering questions in your mind like, “Will I have enough money?” or “Will I ever get married?” Life may feel out of control. Is it exams, family, or job making you stressed?
As I sift through my stress, and if I am honest, it comes down to this, “Can I trust God?” Can I trust God if I fail my exam? Can I trust God if I don’t get married soon, if I lose my job, if there isn’t enough money or if something terrible happens? Is God trustworthy and will He really take care of me?
Getting rid of the rope
Trust can seem really scary for me. I feel like I could be left hanging, and possibly in the end unhappy or unfulfilled. Could I miss out on something better? Other things like control over circumstances, choices and time seem more secure. I picture it this way in my mind. I am holding on tightly to a rope and I am dangling from this rope. It feels really scary. I am unsure if the rope is going to hold me. What if God lets me fall? What if I am holding on to the wrong rope? I am trying to trust God, but is He going to let me go so that I flop? This is what trusting God in certain situations can feel like for me– uncomfortable and scary. It seems much more comfortable and secure to climb up the rope and get my feet planted firmly in a safe place. Trust can feel so unknown. I am afraid that I won’t like the end result it I keep hanging on to God’s rope. It is much more comfortable to stay in a known territory and throw the rope away.
Fear is often at the root of anxiety, stress, or in being overwhelmed. It feels safer to use control or use our “tools” for managing stress, than to build trust (see, Replacing anxiety with trust). I often would rather throw the rope away, than trust God with each day and every new day. If I don’t feel good, does that mean it was a mistake to trust God? Maybe I should hide the rope. It is seems better that way.
The past several months I was in a study with a great group of college women. As we studied the book of Exodus in the bible, I was reminded that trust has always been an issue for us humans. Ever since the beginning, our trust in God is not as it ought to be. God gives us every reason to trust Him, yet we still fear and want to be in control. It is the same issue in the book of Exodus. God miraculously leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, and continues to guide them through a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. It is amazing! Yet, the people still complain and forget God’s faithfulness. They forget the countless things God has done and they fail to open their eyes to what He is currently doing. He has provided for them each step along the way. My favorite part of the account is when God provides His people with food from heaven. Each day there is “manna” for them to collect and eat. Each day, God says He will provide manna for them. They do not need to worry how they will be provided, for God will take care of them. God does just that, He gives them exactly what they need each day for that new day. The people are instructed to get rid of any extra manna at the end of the day, for God says they will have manna again the next day for their needs. Through this they are learning to trust God with each new day for their most basic need- food. If they do save some overnight, as instructed not to, the manna will be filled with maggots. Hoarding, fear, or greed will not replace trust. There is one day a week the people are instructed to collect enough for two days, and that is the day before the Sabbath. So, in order to give them their needed rest on the Sabbath, God provides food for two days. The Sabbath is a gift to them for it also provides for one of their most basic needs– rest. Once again, God is teaching the people to trust Him, to trust Him each day, and to trust His provision. He will provide. This is what I call, “manna living.”
I like this so much because it applies to me. God still cares in similar ways, and He cares for me. He wants me to trust Him to provide for each new day. He also knows that I need to learn to trust, just like the Israelites needed to learn to trust, since it is always easier to give into fear, anxiety, or control. I imagine the Israelites still had to trust God with the first step they took each new day.
I also imagine towards the end of the day they would gaze up at the sky, and still wonder if there would be manna the next day. Would He still provide for them? Manna living is presenting our needs to God, trusting Him, and trusting Him with each new day. Trust dispels fear. Trust replaces anxiety. God know this is good for us.
Practicing Manna Living
What does this look like practically? How can I become a person who trusts God completely, and has my life open to His ways each new day? If He is my provider, I do not need to fear. Even though I cannot see how His provision is what is best, I know He is worthy of my trust.
What this might look like for me…
After I spend time in God’s word, I will spend a little bit of time handing over my concerns to God. During this time, I don’t necessarily ask for specific things or requests, but I simply hand over each concern to Him. I then walk away from it. This doesn’t mean I don’t pray specifically or ask God for big things, I just have a time when I hand over concerns that could be burdensome or worries. It is one way I choose to submit my plan to His plan and cast today’s concerns to Him. It is a way I choose to entrust Him with each thing. It is also a means to begin to practice manna living- trusting Him to provide each new day. One area I am doing this is with our finances. Some days it looks grim, yet I am asking God each day for the provision we need. It could take up a lot of space in my head and heart, which often makes me distracted and burdened. As I lift up the finances, I am finding it doesn’t have such a hold on me, as it lies deposited at the Lord’s feet. I may sit and prayerfully say something like, “I hand over our finances to you. I give you this person and the issue they are facing. I give you Connor’s college decision. I hand over the planning meetings. I give you Matthew’s concussion…” I name the different things one by one which could possibly make me stressed, anxious, or controlling. In this, I am handing over the very things that could rob me of trusting God that day. In my heart I am giving Him my trust so I can step out during the day with my feet, hands and words. Since I started doing this, I have sensed more peace- that things are in His hands and He is in control. I also feel more of a trust, that He will take care of these things for the best. It is fun to notice more “answered prayers” and see His hand at work. There are many days, I even see a situation resolved without any other thought, worry, or control. Just the other day, I lifted a concern up regarding one of my children. The natural thing would have been this: to pray over and over, worried prayers. Worried prayers are when I mull the need over and over through prayer, then asking or demanding what seems to the best to me. I then might try and convince my child or push them into making the “right” decision, because I have “prayed” about it. In this particular situation, I lifted the concern that morning. I did not think of it again that day. When the child came home, the first thing he said was in regard to the concern I lifted up (He had no idea I had lifted it up). There was no worrying, no pestering or arm twisting. I can trust God with today, for the things of today. This is manna living.
Not just about us…
Manna living also helps take our eyes off ourselves and our worries, giving us more space to care for and engage with others. It can open our eyes to the needs around us. We don’t have to worry if our time, money or talents will be eaten up, because we know God will provide. He is in control. Building trust in our heart, increases our overflow from our hands, feet and mouth.
What is on your list of things to trust God with? Hand each one over to Him and walk away.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56: 3,4
God is continually teaching us to trust in Him. He wants us to know how much He loves us and how much He wants the best for us. He is not going to let us fall. With Him, there is no reason to fear. As Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) Fear is at the heart of anxiety. As we live each day, choosing to trust God with the manna we need, we are learning trust- which produces peace and faith. As a result our life becomes more of a gift to others. Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
How does Jesus make all the difference to our peace?
Think of a friend that needs peace, or whom is anxious right now. How would offering them these things bless them? Ask them if you can pray for them, then think of a way to care for them. The world longs to be rid of anxiety and to have peace.