Hurting . . . Alone?
How can we take back our peace of mind—even in the worst circumstances? At my lowest point I realized I was allowing myself to become a prisoner to my dark thoughts. My fear and worry were only making the situation worse. When I faced that reality, my first response was to be honest with God. I admitted, Lord, I'm afraid. Coming clean with my fear and vulnerability helped me acknowledge that I'm not in control. Then I was able to pray, Lord, even though I don't understand why this is happening, I know you are at work in my life. I'm going to take captive these anxious and fearful thoughts and give them to you. I'm going to trust that no matter what happens, you have everything under control.
Sometimes I had to literally force out the words through clenched teeth: "I trust you, Lord." But eventually I also began to pray, "Thank you that nothing can ever separate me from your love. Death can't … and life can't" (Romans 8:38).
Whenever dark thoughts tried to penetrate my mind, I asked God to help me focus on praising him. And the more I chose to worship God, the more naturally that worship began to flow from my lips. Praise and fear simply can't coexist. Worship drove the dark thoughts away! Praising God enabled me to see the bigger picture of life and God's character. Worship escorted me past lying emotions and returned me to God—the source of all hope, comfort, peace, and joy.
Making Trust Tangible
God knows how quickly we tend to forget his faithfulness and his provision—especially when the clouds of darkness threaten to overtake us. Throughout the Bible God had his people build tangible reminders of the ways he showed up to protect and save them (for example, see Joshua 4).
When I struggled with my mysterious illness, I decided to create tangible reminders for myself: sticky notes and index cards filled with encouraging Scriptures. I chose passages like Psalm 34:6: "In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles." And Psalm 145:14, 17: "The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads …. The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness." I wrote the verses in bright colors that popped off the page, then I posted them on my bathroom mirror, kitchen window, over the car radio—any place I found myself throughout my day. Those verses helped me dwell on God's promises and God's character rather than on the bad circumstances I was in.