A couple of years ago, I went on a family vacation to the beach. I love going to the beach, but the ocean has always been one of my biggest fears. Its depths are not wholly known and that’s terrifying to me. What could be lurking in the darkest depths?
Anxiety is a struggle for many people, myself included. Why? What are we so afraid of? The unknown? The known? God has not given us the spirit of fear so why does it plague us so? The answer is that we are human. Luckily for us though, we have an almighty God right beside us and He is the one in control. Anything could be just around the corner.
As I sat there staring out at the great unknown, I realized that I have a tendency to take this viewpoint on life:
Every choice and decision I make has an unknown outcome.
Every choice and decision has a consequence.
If I jump into the ocean, will I swim or be eaten by a great white shark?
Later on during our stay, I was reading a devotional book that had a really impactful analogy. On the surface, the ocean can be raging. Waves crashing, and thunder rolling. Deep down beneath the ocean’s surface, all is still and calm. That is what God’s love is for us. No matter what is going on in our lives, God is there with peace and mercy.
I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalms 94: 15-16 (NLT)
Put into context, the writer of these verses is lamenting about the trials believers were facing at that time. It was a time when the ungodly ruled and persecuted God’s people. Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?
It is so easy to be anxious about the unknown. What is hard is learning to let the anxiety and fear go. To say that you let something go is much different than actually doing it. You can pray and say “Lord, I give it all to you!” and after you say amen, you put that burden right back in your pocket and it continues to weigh you down.
It came to a point for me that I was even too anxious to pray. I kept picking up my uncertainty and fear after every prayer and putting it back in my pocket. I wasn’t willing to let go. There were many big life choices and changes ahead, and I wasn’t sure what to do. What were the right choices? I found myself beginning to pray for guidance but I would stop because I was afraid of the outcome.
What if the answer was no?
What if a door was shut that I desperately wanted open?
You’ll notice that in this past paragraph I’ve used a lot of “I” and that was precisely my problem. Sometimes, we become reliant on what we think is right for us. We think we know best, but we are not the ones who hold tomorrow. Becoming at peace with that understanding is a life changer.
In Jeremiah 29, the Lord is speaking to his people. They have just exiled out of Jerusalem and they are scared of what the future holds. In Jeremiah 29: 11-13 He says to them,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
What a comfort it is to know that these verses still apply to us today. The King of Kings loves us and is in control of our future.
When I read those verses it made me think of one of my favorite gospel songs, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” by the Gaither Gospel Band.
“And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead;
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.”
We may not always understand why things happen in our lives. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but as the song says, we know who holds tomorrow and thank God that he holds our hand.