“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” - Romans 5:3-5, NLT
My phone buzzed the other day with a notification from the kid’s school. Severe weather was on the way! My mind swirled like the doppler image of the hurricane headed toward our area. Rejoicing is the last thing that comes to mind when I feel worried. Instead, my mind immediately begins to troubleshoot everything that can possibly go wrong and scramble to make a plan. I never want anything to catch me with my guard down!
Where should I take the kids after school?
Will our house be safe?
What about the dogs?
Should we leave town or risk riding the rough weather out?
Maybe you can relate? Do you try to think through every possible scenario and how you might respond when life goes awry? Anxiety is often our response to life’s unwanted surprises. Our minds race to get ahead of anything that can and might get thrown our way. We exhaust all our emotional energy in an unfruitful effort to stay ahead of uncertainties.
But I’ve never, not once, been able to overthink my way into predicting the future. Worrying and overanalyzing, assuming the worst-case scenario, does nothing to calm my anxious heart. Frankly, most of the time, it just leads to more anxiety. However, the good news is not all anxiety is harmful. We can harness our nervous energy into action, helping us work to get to a safe place, solve the problem, or resolve the issue. Then, we can use our anxiety to prompt us toward the truth.
Scripture tells us to rejoice because our problems are doing something very useful. The problems anxiety tries to convince us we need to outrun are often the very occurrences God uses as His method to build character in us. This character leads us to the hope we have in the gospel. And this hope reminds us who God is and what He has done for us. No matter how dire the situation, His hope will never allow us to be put to shame. And the proof?! He sealed us with the security of the Spirit. (Romans 5:3-5).
The next time something catches you by surprise, and you find those anxious feelings bubbling inside you, your thoughts going every which way, try this. Allow anxiety to prompt you to pray. Talk to God about your problems and trials. Remind yourself that He is all-knowing, so you don’t have to be. Rejoice that He is present with you through every storm and trial, and He will use every bit of your trouble to drive you to hope that never fails. Allow this truth to be a balm to your anxious heart today, and know that you are never alone. God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
Dear Lord, I admit I often don’t think to rejoice when trouble strikes. My knee jerk is worrying. But in your graciousness, you gently remind me through anxiety to lift up my circumstances in prayer. Lord, I pray your Word over my anxious heart. God, thank you that I can rejoice in these troubles because they are refining me into a strong and hope-filled person. So, Lord, I trust that as I lean on you during my trials, you stir hope in me and out onto others who may be enduring their own problems. God help me to be gentle with myself when I’m feeling scared. Help me run to you and not away from you. I know you are good, and you’ll use everything happening to me for my good and your glory. Thank you that as I praise you and ask for what I need, you give me peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6). Thank you that gratitude is the secret weapon to experiencing joy during the storms I face. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Joice Kelly
Ashley Moore is a writer and host of be the two™podcast. She is known for her relatability and for passionately writing and speaking about mental, emotional, and relational health from a biblical worldview. She has written for Kingdom Edge Magazine, Guideposts, Crosswalk, The Secret Place, enLIVEn, The Bubbling Brook and more. If Ashley isn't writing, you can find her with her husband, three children, and two floppy-eared Goldens on their south Georgia farmland. The best way to connect with Ashley is to grab a free devotional or Bible study and join her newsletter at free.ashleynicolemoore.com.
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