We all have those days; the ones where everything seems to be going wrong. While some people seem to stay naturally calm and collected in these situations, others (me!) have a tendency to get completely overwhelmed. It doesn’t help that being anxious about one thing tends to blow every other little thing out of proportion. When that happens, we easily take a little molehill and build it into our own proverbial mountain.
As you probably know, we each have our own personal habits when we’re stressed. Some eat, some don’t; some stay home, while others surround themselves with friends who will encourage them. Often, when I’m overwhelmed, I’ll keep it to myself until I get the chance to talk to one of my closest friends. There are times when I find myself anxiously awaiting a time to express my struggles to one of those friends, knowing they will give me support, encouragement, and advice. Sometimes it’s my mom, other times it’s my best friend, but often it’s just one of those people that I feel comfortable enough with to share what’s on my heart. Honestly, I’m so thankful for the people in my life who provide a listening ear whenever I need it.
After all, that’s what friends are for, right? We share in each other’s burdens, encourage one another in trials, give wisdom where it’s necessary, rejoice in each triumph… the list goes on. Friends are the people who take the time to get to know us for who we really are. As they say:
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” -Elbert Hubbard
Natural Reactions –
So in the past, whenever I find myself completely overwhelmed, I hurry to find a listening ear; it’s pretty much a natural reaction. At times, if I can’t get a hold of the person I’d like to talk to, I even begin to get frustrated. Then I have to step back and ask myself, “Am I relying too much on the encouragement of my friends to get me through the day?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely no problem with relying on your friends. Sometimes we simply need to pour our hearts out to someone we trust. My best friend has been a listening ear for my troubles and struggles since the day that I met her, eleven years ago. Those struggles seem to grow more complicated with each passing year, but nevertheless, she’s there when I need her and I know it. She’s usually one of the first people to hear about the happenings in my life.
However, we have to remember that friends are fail-able and that they can’t always be there every time we need them. What do we do when we can’t acquire the listening ear of a friend? And what should our first reaction be to struggles in our lives? Shouldn’t we start by taking every situation to the Lord, before we even consider showering our friends with our anxiety? Why don’t we take it to God before anyone else?
A Common Misconception –
First off: perhaps it’s the fact that – even as Christians – we get this idea that God is too busy with big, important things, to be troubled with our silly complaints. I can’t deny that I’ve found myself wondering why God would care about me being nervous at an orchestra concert, when there are people in serious danger and imploring Him for help. There are times when I’ve been reluctant to take my burden to the Lord, knowing that there are people with far bigger problems. I get the idea that my worries are trivial and insignificant to a God like Him. But, as Corrie Ten Boom says:
“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”
If you’re concerned about something, take it to God. No worry is too small for Him to care for.
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7
Personal Feedback –
Secondly: perhaps we’re just longing for the personal feedback that comes from our friends. When I talk to a friend, I can hear their voice. When I write them a note, I can read their reply. But when I talk to God, it may begin to feel as though I’m the only one talking. I don’t directly hear His voice, telling me what I need to hear, so I tend to feel as though I draw more encouragement and wisdom from a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend.
Of course, “If God would simply appear and tell us what we need to do, then we would trust Him more.” We want a message in the sky. We’re looking for something direct, something substantial, something we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears. Oh how faithless we humans are!
How can we say that God does not communicate with us? How can we forget that God has revealed His will to us through the Bible? The Bible in itself is a miracle, and yet we ask for more. Everything that we need to know has been laid out in His word. God has not hidden His will from us and He certainly has not left us without encouragement. We seem to think that we have to be Bible scholars to read and understand every part of the God’s word, but this is not so. While there are certain sections of the Bible that require in-depth study, there are so many sections that couldn’t be more plain in their meaning. The more we read the Bible, the more we will understand it.
In the same way, we must realize that the closer we get to God, the better we will understand Him. I could never expect to be so close to my best friend if I never took the time to get to know her. As they say:
“If God seems so far away, who moved?”
You see, God never abandons us. We are the ones who get caught up in our own cares and stray away from Him. We are the ones who push God to the back burner, making Him a secondary priority. It is us who take a personal relationship with our Savior for granted. While we should be striving to know God better with every passing day, we become content to remain “spiritual babies” in our relationship to Him.
“Knowing Christ should give us a longing to grow our faith. When we dig deeper into God’s word it helps us to understand Him better. The more we understand God, the more we will trust Him and the longer we know Him, the deeper that understanding and trust will grow. Our faith is not meant to simply stop at the feelings, but to mature far beyond that, into a deep love for our amazing God who’s love cleanses us from all sin.” –A Feeling or A Fortress?
God already knows everything about you. Your friends know you so well and love you nonetheless, but God even knows your thoughts and He still loves you! It is time for us to take our relationship with God in a more serious manner.
Even so – regarding the will of God – we may find that God’s will for our lives seems to be elusive and mysterious; like something that we can only guess at, without being completely sure of His direction. This is really another blog post all in itself, but here is a link to an interesting post about knowing God’s will, from my Dad’s blog.
Forgetting Our Fortress –
Last of all: perhaps we simply don’t think of it. It’s not that He doesn’t give us the feedback we’re looking for or that we doubt He would care, it’s just that – in our overwhelmed state – we easily forget to bring our worries to Him. To state this simply: if we do not think to resort directly to our Savior when trials come, it is a sign that our relationship with God is not what it should be. When our relationship with God is strong, we will cherish the privilege of bringing our worries to Him and it will even become a natural reaction.
“In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame… Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually… For You are my rock and my fortress.” Psalms 71:1 and3
What A Friend We Have In Jesus –
All of this brings to mind a familiar old hymn. Originally penned in the form of a poem, by Joseph M. Scriven, in 1855:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.
Do we consider prayer a privilege? With a God who knows our every weakness, who loves us unconditionally, provides for us daily, comforts us in troubles, blesses us abundantly, and – ultimately – rescues us from our greatest enemy, why aren’t we taking our troubles to Him? And what about our triumphs? With every happening of our life – whether it’s “just one of those days,” the happiest day of our life, or a simple, mundane time – we have a refuge in our Savior. Best of all, God is never too busy to listen to your troubles. So in every situation, make your first reaction prayer.