This year has felt like one long test of faith. If I were being graded on it, I would certainly fail. You can’t fake God into giving you a D. I know that my faith has grown over the past two decades of life, but I am far from trusting God as I ought to. It is easy to say that I trust Him, and I do! But election day came, and I felt the anxiety welling up in me as the day passed. I would like to blame this on the depression that I struggle with, but it wasn’t source-less, generalized anxiety. My nervous state was clearly linked to national events. I wasn’t trusting God with the election results.
On Wednesday morning at work, we listened to a devotional on Proverbs 3:5-12. The first two verses of this passage have become favorites of mine, over the past few years. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,” verse five instructs. All means all. I trust the LORD in most things, but the physical manifestations of worry showed me all of the ways that I do not trust him. There was only one thing to be done: fight for faith. I could wallow in my disappointment at not trusting God more, but that wouldn’t be profitable. Instead, I spent the week working to strengthen my God-centered worldview, so that I could have peace.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,Habakkuk 3:17-19
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
LORD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
The focus of our minds is the pivotal factor in obtaining peace within. Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You [God] keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” My lifelong passion for American history, government, and politics is a stumbling block to me, when it comes to trusting God and having peace with national elections and events. Since childhood, my mind and heart have been invested in my country. But if I want peace, the Scriptures instruct that my mind should be stayed on God. I looked up the word that the ESV translates stayed. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance defines the Hebrew word sāmak, “to be braced, be steadfast; to lean upon, rely upon, gain confidence.” When my faith begins to falter because of the news of the day, it is because I am looking for my confidence in the things of the world – specifically, my country and its leaders – rather than relying on God. The question is, how do I keep myself firmly braced on God?
On Wednesday night, I took a walk. I started out intentionally prayerful, thanking God for the lovely evening and all His blessings. But as I continued on my way, my mind turned back to the election and my angst over what was happening. I am always writing in my head; my brain has a political blog that doesn’t get posted online. As I approached home, I realized how my mind had trailed off into worldly issues. I had to change course. The Lord’s Prayer came to mind, and I pleaded, “Father. . .Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” Sometimes having faith is a minute-to-minute choice; like Habakkuk, we must make a decision to “take joy in the God of [our] salvation” no matter what the circumstances may be.
In my morning Bible reading I am finishing Isaiah, and I have found this book comforting. But it has been tempting to turn on my computer to check the news, first thing, rather than opening my Bible. I gave in to this on Wednesday, but quickly realized my error. Bracing our minds and hearts on the LORD requires intentionality, and how we begin the day is perhaps the most important piece. Knowing Scripture is also critical for me to keep myself trusting God. Sometimes when I go for walks alone, I recite verses that I have memorized so that my mind doesn’t wander where it shouldn’t.
As I fought the battle, this week, different passages of Scripture came to mind. It finally occurred to me to read to Psalm 73. It is an encouragement to remember that others before me have struggled with similar difficulties. In the first fourteen verses of this psalm, the writer expressed his dismay at the apparent prosperity of those who were far from God. But his perspective changed when he went to the sanctuary of God. The second half of the psalm expresses the peace of a heart that is stayed on God. Perhaps I should try to commit this to memory.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;Psalm 73:2-3, 16-17, 23-28
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord LORD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.