What’s next? That seems to be everyone’s question these days.
I was speaking to a friend in the church today, and I asked her how she was doing. She replied, “Everything is so unsettling. I am unsettled.”
As she said that, I knew exactly what she meant. Two weeks ago, things were going along pretty much as usual. Sports were being played, churches were meeting, the stock market was humming along in the longest bull market in history. Then, in almost the blink of an eye, everything changed.
We started to hear about what was going on in Seattle, New York and other hotspots. The NBA, NCAA, NHL, PGA, and MLB all canceled their seasons. Even though COVID-19 was still largely unseen, people were learning about this looming threat. As more information circulated, schools closed, churches went online, many started telecommuting, and the stock market plummeted, threatening dire economic consequences.
It seems like new developments and major decisions are happening daily. In all of this we keep hearing the message from many different sources that things will get worse before they get better.
How do we deal with these unsettled times as Christians? What is your game plan for when the next bit of unsettling news crosses your screen?
We can learn from the football coach who goes into a game prepared. As the game begins, the coach doesn’t know what is going to happen after the kickoff. He actually doesn’t even know who is going to receive the ball until the coin flip. But he is not unprepared because he has a game plan. We all need a spiritual game plan to prepare for these unsettling times.
The Psalms are filled with people who were unsettled. The Psalmists are honest people with emotions like ours. They are people who, in the midst of challenges, want things to be easier. Often they are fearful, angry at circumstances, and even depressed. Let me offer you one simple but old idea for handling unsettled times.
Pray God’s Word back to him!
This is what David did when Saul and the army of Israel was chasing him around and trying to kill him. His very life was threatened, and what did he do? He prayed God’s Word back to God.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? …In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord whose word I praise, In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
David makes a decision to put his trust in God in the very midst of an incredible trial. He does not deny that he is afraid. His life is very unsettled! But he turns to God in his trouble.
The basis of his trust is God’s character, which he knows because he knows God’s word. That is how he knows God is trustworthy. He reminds himself of who God is and he remembers God’s promises. The “word” in Psalm 56 can refer to divine revelation from individual prophecies (that prophets like Nathan would give) or the written text of Scripture, or it could refer to the promise given to David about the future of his reign (2 Samuel 7). But the important thing is that David knows the promises of God, he knows the character of God, and he reminds himself of the truths of God’s word by praying them back to God.
When David prays these prayers, he is declaring God’s truth to his soul. He is praying truth back to God, reinforcing truth as he prays. He is casting his cares on God and reminding himself that God cares for him. When we pray like this, God’s Spirit works in us and often makes the truth of his word alive to us. As the Spirit works in us, He guards our hearts and our minds, and gives us the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:4-7), so that we can say like David, “I shall not be afraid!”
You may have verses of Scripture that you go to regularly when you face fear, but the important thing is that you run to God and remind yourself of his character and promises revealed through his Word.
God knows we are prone to be unsettled. The most common command in the Bible is, “fear not.” Living in these unsettled times, David’s game plan is a good one for us to follow. It doesn’t mean we will never feel unsettled again–Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world. But he also encouraged us to take heart. Why? Because he has overcome the world! In the coming days and weeks we may feel unsettled multiple times a day–when we hear the next report of virus spread, or the newest changes that we need to implement in our lives, or that someone we know is infected–but the game plan is the same. Like David, we can take heart praying, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you! In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust!”
God’s word does its work in my soul, and I know it will work in your soul, too! How do you encourage your soul when you feel unsettled? I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. Here is a great book: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
P.P.S. Here are some scriptures that encourage me:
- This pdf has all 32!
- Isaiah 41:10
- Psalm 56:3
- John 14:27
- 2 Timothy 1:7
- 1 John 4:18
- Psalm 94:19
- Isaiah 43:1
- Proverbs 12:25
- Psalm 23:4
- Joshua 1:9
- Matthew 6:34
- 1 Peter 5:6-7
- Isaiah 35:4
- Luke 12:22-26
- Psalm 27:1
- Psalm 55:22
- Mark 6:50
- Deuteronomy 31:6
- Isaiah 41:10-13
- Psalm 46:1
- Psalm 118:6-7
- Proverbs 29:25
- Mark 4:39-40
- Psalm 34:7
- 1 Peter 3:14
- Psalm 34:4
- Deuteronomy 3:22
- Revelation 1:17
- Mark 5:36
- Romans 8:38-39
- Zephaniah 3:17
- Psalm 91:1-16