“God is bigger than the boogieman,” veggietales once told me. growing up in church you hear that concept a lot, and you always seem to know it in the back of your mind but when “the boogieman” creeps up on you, fear + anxiety can swallow you whole. whatever it is that’s haunting you tends to fill your mind and gnaw at you throughout the day, even when you try to push it out of your thoughts. and it’s natural. even Jesus himself said “in this world you will have trouble” (john 16:33) and it’s normal to feel worried about those troubles when they arise.
I’m human, so naturally I have plenty of my own situations where I feel like life spirals out of control. I’d try and handle them as best I could but it felt like no matter what I did I’m always worried about it and I was left feeling defeated. it was all I could think about. I felt controlled by it, which led to a place of constant stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. but one day this summer when I was particularly stressed, I went to take a little nap during my lunch break and God spoke to me in those quiet moments while I was starting to doze off.
this situation is not your god – I am.
holding onto those words that gave me the hope that everything would be okay, even when I don’t see the whole picture. because what I’ve realized is that obsessing over our problems and our stressors is a form of idolization. we focus on them to the point that we start to feel defined by our circumstances. we start to cave to the seeming “impending doom” surrounding us and think that it has full control. but that’s only because that’s what the enemy wants you to think. he wants you to feel hopeless. he wants you to feel attacked. he wants you to feel so suffocated that you don’t have the time to think about anything or anyone else other than yourself – more specifically, he doesn’t want you to remember to turn to God in the times when you need Him most, because:
he has said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 2 C O R I N T H I A N S 1 2 : 9 – 1 1 –
I’m fairly certain that most of you are familiar with the story of Job in the bible, that literally everything he owned and all the people he held dear to him were ripped away by the enemy in an attempt to show God that even His most loyal of servants would come to blame Him and turn away.
you see, the enemy likes to take strong people and try to break them down. he’s competitive – think the mr. krabs and plankton debacles… not that I’d ever compare the two in a blog post. plankton’s always trying to take advantage of everyone in his way of the krabby patty formula, but try as he might, mr. krabs always ends up prevailing – and that’s how the enemy and God work .everyone has a breaking point, and the enemy’s trying to find it so he can have something to throw in God’s face, to try and come out on top. there comes a point where we, as fallible human beings, feel like we can’t handle it on our own. it manifests as anxiety, depression, irritability, burying our stress in substances, etc… whatever the case may be – something that shows “I’m done, I’ve given up, this impossible situation has knocked me out.” but in our weakness, in the moments where we feel like we can’t go on, God’s strength shines the most – He’s with us wherever we are and when He sees we’re feeling incapable of taking one more step, He carries us. He shows us that He can be our strength and that He is so much stronger than whatever it is that we’re facing.
even in lifegroup this past week we read out of James 1 and I was in awe of how perfectly it put this concept into perspective, even though I’ve been working on this post for some time now. I read it in the amplified version because I found that the wording + side notes made it so convicting. I wanted to share the passage with you, albeit a little lengthy, but it provides the best insight for those that are having a hard time persevering through trials + tribulations.
consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. and let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.
if any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him. but he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. for such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].
let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his high position [as a born-again believer, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God]; and the rich man is to glory in being humbled [by trials revealing human frailty, knowing true riches are found in the grace of God], for like the flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; its flower falls off and its beauty fades away; so too will the rich man, in the midst of his pursuits, fade away.
blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him... every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].
– J A M E S 1 : 2 – 12, 17 –
whatever has you feeling beat, whatever you feel like you can’t let go of because you feel like you have to figure out yourself – stop idolizing the impossible and give it to God. “in this world you will have trouble,” but it doesn’t mean you have to face it alone, and the troubles do not define you. when you make an active decision to turn to God and have faith in the fact that He can move mountains, you start to internalize a little more each day that a God that loves you with everything that He has will never let you fall.
do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… but but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
– M A T T H E W 6 : 1 9 – 2 1 –