Recently I woke up feeling anxious. I made myself a coffee and mulled it over, trying to work out where the anxiety was coming from.
It didn’t take long. I remembered a conversation the previous day that had left me unsettled and I also found myself reflecting on an email that was sitting in my inbox.
God has been showing me of late that I need to stop. Regularly. At least once a day and this was reinforced by a Psalm, I found myself reading. Psalm 116: 1 – 7 says this:
“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me! ”
5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.”
The author sounds like he was once in terrible trouble, close to death and overcome with distress and sorrow. But the Lord saved him. He heard the psalmist’s prayer – his cry for mercy and now his heart is full of gratitude.
It is the last verse that struck me though, where he speaks to himself – to his soul: “Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” Return to your rest.
God created us to be children of God. He redeemed us by the precious blood of His Son, Jesus through His death on the cross so that we are at peace with Him. We are welcome in his Presence and in His family. We are created to be people at rest in God’s presence.
I believe therefore that this our default position, our factory reset if you like. In normal life, under everyday conditions we are designed to be at rest in God.
Circumstances disturbed that rest for the Psalmist, and he was temporarily torn away from it. So, at the end of his ordeal, he takes control of this thoughts and his emotions and commands himself: “Return to the state of rest that God has given you”.
How does he do that?
I believe a clue is found in the second half of that verse: “for the LORD has been good to you.” He is appealing to his mind and his memories to remember the goodness of God. “Soul! You can return to your place of rest because you know God takes care of you. Has always taken care of you. You don’t need to carry anxiety. There is no need to worry about tomorrow, about this or that possibility because your Father in Heaven is a good God; a faithful God.”
I’m happy to say that it didn’t take long for the anxiety to leave me that morning, particularly when I re-focused my thoughts on God’s goodness.