In the difficulties and trepidations of life, it’s easy to allow our own thoughts and voice to lead and guide our thinking. Yes, we have things to be concerned about, but do we have a healthy concern or are we drifting into God’s territory?
At the end of the day, self-reflection helps to evaluate obedience when it comes to our thinking. The Lord commands what we are to think about in all circumstances. Therefore, being intentional with our thinking during these times is critical. You can know if you have a healthy concern or lack of trust by asking yourself good questions.
Are the majority of my thoughts controlled by news updates, financial concerns or the “what ifs” of my family's future?
Do I thoughtfully engage in the present with contentment (Colossians 3:2) or does my thinking become enslaved to circumstances?
Can I lie down at night thankful that my mind was focused on the promises of God for my ultimate security and grateful for God’s promised provision to care for my needs (Philippians 4:19)?
Am I looking to the government or media to find my strength and peace of mind or turning to the living God for hope (Romans 15:4)?
In his book Trusting God, Jerry Bridges defines a life of trust this way:
“Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.”
The Heart’s Prescription
Almost every single Psalm, in some way or another, portrays the Lord as our refuge in trouble and the center of our hopes. They teach us how to approach God in prayer, how to praise and worship God, how to live a holy and righteous life, what to do when we fail and how to deal with every human emotion we experience. The Psalms help us learn how to feel and right now many of us need that help.
Psalm 46 is an example of a Psalm that validates, shapes and provides direction for our emotions. At the end of this exercise on Psalm 46, there is a link to download a very helpful resource called “Psalms for the Anxious”. Meditated on each day, these psalms will help to direct godly thinking.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46 ESV
Write out Psalm 46. It is helpful to outline the psalm and then answer these questions:
What seven phrases describe God in this psalm?
What calamities are described in verses 2-3? Why does the psalmist NOT Fear?
Who is our help and refuge (5,7,11)? List one way this truth should impact your life today.
What do you learn about God in verses 6-9? How does that make a difference in your daily life right now?
What is the command given in verse 10? Is God seeing you do this? If not, what is hindering you from fully trusting the Lord?
What do you learn from this psalm that stables your soul in trouble? Is your faith in God RULING you during the difficult times and what does that look like?
As you seek to gain a comforting perspective in these unsettling times, the Psalms are a prescription for distress and worry. Click here for the “Psalms for the Anxious” resource, an excerpt from John MacArthur’s book “Anxious for Nothing”.
About the author
Karen McMahon is passionate about helping others apply biblical truth to every situation in life. She is the Director of Discipleship Counseling at First Evangelical Free Church in Maplewood, Minnesota, serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Alliance, and is a certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). She has a MA in Theology Studies from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Minnesota and a MA in Biblical Counseling from Faith Bible Seminary-Lafayette, Indiana.