It started with a little insomnia. More than once during the week, I awoke from heavy dreams feeling threatened. Sometimes after hours of tossing and turning, sleep would come again, but I’d wake up in the morning with a nagging sense of worry.
Then, I picked up an old habit of replaying conversations and analyzing them. What did this person mean when she said that? Did he really mean what he said, or was he just being polite? Interactions on social media were even worse, because there was no tone or body language to direct my interpretation, only emojis. I felt the need to explain myself to someone I’d never met and probably would never see in real life.
This is how it begins. The anxiety begins as a low-grade, background static but then builds until it’s constant. It’s a sense of impending doom, as though at any moment your world is going to crumble around you, with no one there to pick up the pieces. But what’s most frustrating is the feeling I should know better. I sense myself sinking into this abyss but in my heart, I know the truth.
Every soul needs an anchor. Hebrews tells us the hope of Christ is the anchor for our soul.
“We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”
But there’s another aspect to this promise I often forget, and it is crucial to my spiritual health. Scripture tells me my anchor is secure, but the tides and the elements still change. Yes, the end of the anchor is unmoving, but the chain will still pull in every possible direction, leaving me to question whether the end I can’t see is going to loose itself from the place holding it firm.
My soul has an anchor, but the health of my soul must still be maintained.
This means reminding myself of the truth not only when the worries of life mount, but on a constant, daily basis. It also means coming to God with the things weighing on my heart. This is what the psalmist did in Psalm 42. His awareness of his spiritual state draws him to confess his discouragement. Then, he speaks to himself and tells himself where to put his hope: in God. Even though he is downcast and disturbed, he says he will continue to praise.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11 NIV
When I break this psalm down and apply it to my own life, it looks something like this:
Whatever the worry or concern is, bring it to God. Write it down and state it out loud. Be real and don’t try to sugarcoat it.
State the truth of who God is in your situation. Look for references to his character that address your specific worry. Acknowledge him as your Provider, Protector, Healer and Lord of your life. Look back on the times he’s been faithful in the past and remember what he’s delivered you from.
If you need wisdom and guidance, ask for it. One of the reasons we often face confusion and indecision is because we haven’t sought God’s leading. He will direct us, open doors, and close them when we seek him, but he won’t force his way into our situation.
Praising God is an active choice. But it is not choosing to be oblivious to our circumstances or ignoring the situation around us. Instead, it is fixing our focus on the One who holds the power to change it. As we praise, his Spirit moves in us and gives our souls a peace that transcends the chaos around us.
Equipped for the Road Ahead
Friends, we are living in a time when anxiety and mental health issues are at an all time high. This is one of the tactics the enemy uses to keep us from fulfilling our God-given purpose, and he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) His hate-filled purpose is not a reason to fear, because the One who sought us out the darkness is greater than he who is in the world. But we must care for our souls if we’re going to live peace-filled, purposeful lives. If you’re worried your anchor will fail, know this: it will not. Declare this truth over your life.
Let’s not let the tides move us from the position Jesus already claimed for us. Let’s claim it as ours, and share our song of victory with others who need to hear it.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This book is easy to read and so encouraging!
If you’re struggling right now, or feeling invisible, or just not sure what on earth God is doing in your life, this book will encourage you to shift your focus away from problems and towards the presence of God.
Like a friend, Abby comes alongside us and weaves great stories from real life into her message of hope. Shift is encouraging me to seek God in the middle of my struggles and to focus on His presence with me more than on expectations of what I wish were happening in my life right now.” -Betsy
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.