When You See Troubling Times Ahead, Try This – Philippians 4:5-9

In a previous post I mentioned how singing brings me comfort when I feel my life is spinning out of control. There’s another option, since singing isn’t always appreciated by those nearby. Maybe it will help you like it helps me in times like these.

Imagine you’re on a roller coaster.

Heavy chains rattle as the car drags its anxious passengers to the peak. Pausing at the top, you fight the urge to look down. A child whimpers a few rows back. You know what’s coming . . .

Then you’re descending, more like falling, down the track, and there’s nothing you can do but to hang on.

You’re sure to hear shrieks, maybe even cries, like I did at the Lagoon amusement park near Salt Lake City. But my reaction was unique, according to my older cousin. He said I laughed through the whole ride.

Like I said in my story in Jesus Talked to Me Today, I started believing Jesus was my best friend when I was very young. I don’t believe I was thinking about his presence during the ride, though. I honestly don’t know where my giddiness came from that day.

I’m also at a loss about how God wants me to “love my neighbor as myself” in some situations, but these verses offer clear direction about things I do understand.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:5-9 ESV

What I hear is that I need to

  1. Allow people to see what’s reasonable in me.
  2. Instead of giving way to anxiety, I should pray, make requests, and thank God in everything.
  3. Keep my thoughts on what’s true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, and not on things that are not of God, like those which are divisive, ugly, or degrading.
  4. Practice what I have learned, received, heard and seen in the life and writings of the apostle Paul.

Then the God of peace will be with me, guarding my heart and my mind in Jesus. Isn’t his peace something we so desperately need these days?

When we manage our thinking like the scriptures suggest, the roller coaster of life can still plunge, jerk, and throw us side to side in the seat, but it will be less likely that we’ll be the ones screaming during the ride.

Kathy Sheldon Davis

Comfort for When Life is Out of Control – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I went through a season of depression when I felt frightfully out of control. I didn’t like being forced to admit such vulnerability, but life became so dark that no amount of positive self talk, counseling, Bible study, declarations of faith, or prayer could keep me steady.

What can we do when important aspects of our lives are out of our control?

Nothing helped. At times I was so distraught I thought I might drive my husband and family away. After all, who would like to come home to an angry, tearful, accusing spouse?

The slippery slope

What scared me most was realizing I might be fine for weeks, my normal, contented heart trusting in God and serving others, but then the clouds would gather, blocking rational thinking and making my foundation slippery.

Was I on the path to becoming the crazy woman people talk about, living alone in a shack somewhere?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

One day I prayed, Lord, you are my rock, but sometimes I’m powerless to hang on. I’m convinced I’ll be swept away if you don’t have a firm grip on me. Please fix whatever is broken, but if it is not your will to do this then show me how to honor you in these hard places. I know your grace is sufficient for me. Help me to rest in you.

That is the comfort I can share with you. No tips or formulas, only the gritty honesty that agrees that sometimes we can’t help ourselves – that God is there, and he remains faithful no matter what state we’re in.

Sing what you believe

I found my son, a kindergartner, on the front steps singing a song to God. He was a kid who loved being with people, but when he found himself without playmates that day, he sat and created a song to express his sadness and lift his soul.

My prayers are sometimes songs as well, made up as I go. Singing my thoughts helps me to be more honest with myself and more real with God.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1 ESV

It’s good to sing what is true, to our God who hears us. I continually find new references in the scriptures that tell us to sing to him. I’m happy, and honored, to comply.

In my case, being honest about my hopelessness led me to a better way to manage life, and now my song is much more joyful.

If any of this sounds similar to your story, or you are interested in a discussion about mental health, suffering and following Jesus, I suggest you listen to my friend and former pastor, Wesley Towne. He left the Oregon church he founded (Ekklesia Eugene) due to his wife’s health concerns, and he is an excellent resource on this topic.

Blessings on your hope-filled journey!

Advice I’d Like to Give to My Young Mother Self – Matthew 4:18-20

To my dear self at twenty-three, from an older you,

This is what you asked for.

All your life you have wanted to know your purpose. You desired the freedom that comes from living simply and trusting God. You prayed to become a wife and a mother. Now live it.

He added a husband to your life, and children. No one has ever been the wife and mother that you are to these people. Your family is unique. No one else is you.

No one will do it like you. God made and equipped you to be you.

Yes, your rebellious heart did damage to his creation, but in Jesus you are completely forgiven, thoroughly redeemed. He has given you a new heart. Your job now is to follow Jesus and “he will make you . . .” Trust him, learn from him, seek him, cling to him.

Just like God designed your body with a place for a child to grow and a way to provide a newborn’s first food, he will continue to equip you to tend, teach and train until your job is through. He does nothing for the purpose of frustrating you. With him, you can do what he gives you to do.

He is with you always, and following after him, you will arrive at the destination he has planned for you.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20 ESV

Trusting doesn’t mean you do nothing. Following is a relationship. Trusting and obeying him is your contribution to the relationship, and your desire to be close to him, and your reliance on him, pleases his heart.

Just follow him. He has made and equipped you, and he will continue to.

And to my older future self, all of the above still applies.

Kathy Davis