It seems like every day there is more bad news. It’s easy to start to feel overwhelmed and worried. We start to wonder: How do I respond? What do I do? Am I doing enough? Is everything going down the tubes? Why is everything so crazy?
These are natural questions in trying times. Typically, what we’re looking for is “the answer.” If we get “the answer” we can alleviate our stress and feel better about everything. Unfortunately, “the answer” we come up with is usually some kind of oversimplification that blames someone.
When there are problems, the human instinct (dating back to the Garden of Eden) is to finger point. We’re trying to figure out who is responsible so we can be mad at that person. We do this because it helps us not be afraid. When we’re angry, we can ignore our fear.
Jesus provides us a better answer. Psalm 43:5 in the NIV reads: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”
The psalmist here is giving himself a pep talk, as we all have to do from time to time. He asks, “Why am I feeling so bad?” The fact he asks this means that he doesn’t think being depressed is his normal state. We should think the same way. Times were far more difficult back then, and yet the psalmist didn’t allow that to define his reality. He said, “Being bummed out isn’t normal. It’s not how I was created.”
Then he thinks, “Wait! I know how to fix it!” This is a funny thing I’ve seen over and over in my life. I’ll get stressed out by stuff and think, “Man this is all so bad, I wish there was an easy way to stop worrying about it.” Then I remember, “Oh, I know a really easy way.”
The strategy is 2-fold—put our hope in God and praise Him again.
Hoping in God means shifting my imaginations so that I’m not thinking about worst case scenarios. It means forcing myself to stop thinking about finances, politics, relationships, etc. and to think about Jesus and His love for me.
I do this by taking five minutes and closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and then just relaxing into His love. I’ll listen in my heart for God to speak. I’ll force myself to imagine Him saying the beautiful things He says in the Scripture. For example, I’ll picture Jesus telling me, “I am your provider. I am your protector. I am your healer. I am well pleased with you.” Etc. This kind of imaginative prayer isn’t make-believe, it’s what meditating on the scripture looks like practically.
If I have a specific thing I’m worried about, I’ll ask God to help me see it from His perspective. I’ll think: “Given the fact that I have access to the unlimited resources of heaven, how should I view this problem?”
After that, the Scripture says to “praise Him again.” Once our perspective shifts, it’s only natural to praise God again. We praise Him for who He is and what He’s done and doing. Praising Him before the problems are all fixed is what faith looks like. Thank Him out loud—loudly!
So, take 5 minutes, and go through this process and hope in the Lord again! Jesus is helping us. We are going to be alright!