By: Cheri Fuller
"When we are lost in the greatness of God,
we realize that there is no physical, emotional, or social loss so great that God cannot bring good out of it and compensate us in the next life."
Worry to Wonder
Our faith as believers isn’t just a passport to heaven; eternal life doesn’t just start when we die. It begins here on earth as we make Jesus the center of our lives. The importance of knowing God and focusing on Him is described in John 17:3: “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (NIV). How can we stop being preoccupied by our worries and problems and get lost in the greatness of God?
Cultivate a lifestyle of praise. Why did Anne encourage me to praise and thank God even when I didn’t feel like it? Because it gets our eyes off the mountains to the mountain mover. It has many other benefits as well. We’re not talking about praise as just a few worship songs sung at the beginning of a service, but a God-ward focus in the midst of whatever we’re facing. It’s realizing as Ruth Myers, a missionary with the Navigators since 1972, said, “God uses tough situations to draw you nearer to Him and to enrich your praise.”
This doesn’t mean denying your real feelings. You may be experiencing intense feelings of fear or sorrow. It’s expressing your distressing emotions (including worry, despair, guilt, fear, or anger) to God—yet choosing to keep proclaiming who He is and turning to Him in spite of how things look—and not postponing this until you feel better. It’s moving toward the Lord instead of away from Him in your distress and developing a faith that goes beyond your feelings.
At first you may start to thank God with little trickles as I did, but if you persist, even in the darkest of places, you will find those trickles of faith will turn into a fountain. Your attitude can turn from anxiety to trust. You may even begin to see your situation differently: “Praise can heighten your awareness that distressing circumstances are God’s blessings in disguise. Your trials rip away the flimsy fabric of your self-sufficiency. This makes room for God’s Spirit to weave into your life a true and solid confidence—the kind of confidence that Paul expressed in Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (NKJV).”
When we focus on God and proclaim who He is, we begin to see clearly who’s in control. Our focus is drawn from the complexity of the problem to the adequacy of God’s infinite resources.
Fear God instead of people or circumstances. The Bible tells us to exchange a fear of situations or persons for a fear of God. A holy, healthy fear comes out of reverence, awe, and wonder of the God who created us, knew us before we were even born, and loves us. David demonstrated the fear of God many times. When he faced formidable enemies, “he understood that he could not simply will his fears away. The person (or persons) he feared had to be displaced by something bigger: fear of the Lord and trust in His provision,” says Dave Shive.vi It’s choosing a vertical focus, a wonder and awe of God instead of a horizontal focus on our circumstances, people, or problems.
Know His name. I’m convinced that our puny or incorrect perspective of God is the root of many of our most distressing emotions. And I know when I let worries—over finances, the future, health, or anything else—sap my strength, it’s because I’ve forgotten how awesome, how able, how loving and faithful God truly is.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you,” says Psalm 9:10 (NIV). Our faith in God develops as we know His names. As I have lived together with my husband Holmes for thirty-three years, I’ve come to know him in the different aspects of his nature as my companion, best friend, prayer partner, generous giver, father of our children, and now also, grandfather, builder of beautiful homes, and much more. In a similar way, we know God in experiencing different aspects of His character and person—or what in the Bible is known as “his names,” through the ways He revealed Himself in the Bible.
Thus I’ve found that when I become anxious or fearful about things, one of the best antidotes is to refocus on God by meditating on His names, that He is Elohim, Creator of the whole universe, yet He cares about me and my family. That He is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord My Banner, and His banner over me is love. One of God’s names is Emmanuel, God with us—not at a distance, but nearer than our breath, constantly working in our lives. His name is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord Our Healer, who specializes in healing relationships and broken hearts and renewing our weary spirits. In reminding myself of who God is and getting Him more clearly into focus, my heart becomes centered on God and finds courage to trust Him once again.
When I understand more about God’s nature, my heart begins to trust Him. And coming to Him with my needs or the needs of others in prayer is a whole different matter than just hoping that He might help me. It’s knowing whom we’re addressing, it’s being confident that we aren’t asking anything outside of who God is. For example, we can trust that we can pray to Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord Our Provider, He sees our needs and delights to provide for them because that is who He is. Just as He provided in the past, He’ll provide in the future. That is who He is, and it’s an essential part of His nature He wants us to experience. The more we know Him, the more our faith grows, and the more our worry turns to wonder about what a great God we serve.
© 2015 by Back to the Bible.
“From Replacing Worry for Wonder, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”