It's there. Behind me. Behind you.
The voice that says you'll never measure up. The voice that tells you to fear. The voice that repeats itself endlessly. The voice that wants you to believe that it's just not worth it.
I hear it. Do you? It echoes from one corner of my mind to the other.
And I get so frustrated. Because I pray and I pray, and I try to lay it down. But I just can't seem to get it out of my head.
There's a passage of Scripture that I love deeply, and I go back to it often. It comforts me when I'm feeling like I can't do the right thing. Say the right thing. Keep up. Measure up.
Lamentations 3:22-24 says:
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"
And do you know what's funny?
I've never paid much attention to the verses right before those so-very-comforting ones. Until last night.
I sat on the floor, crying out to God to hold me and speak truth into me because I was feeling foolish for something I had said. I opened my Bible. I intended to turn to a Psalm, but my fingers peeled back the pages of Lamentations 3 before I made it there (Pretty sure that wasn't an accident, as far as God was concerned. I love how He does that...). And my eyes zeroed in on the three verses right before that beloved new-mercies passage.
With anxiety in my heart--anxiety that I was struggling to lay at the feet of Jesus--I found myself inside the words of the writer here. He says:
"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me," (Lamentations 3:19-20).
He's stuck on it. Stuck on his own foolishness. Stuck on his own pain. Continually remembering. Continually humbled. Continually bowed down.
He can't get it off of his mind, either.
And he goes on to say,
"But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope..." (Lamentations 3:21).
Those are the words the writer pens immediately before he declares that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Immediately before he declares that the Lord's mercies are new every morning, and that His faithfulness is so great.
Anxious thoughts that lead to hope. Anxious thoughts that replayed themselves over and over again are the very thoughts that preceded this great assurance of hope.
How often do we fall in love with verses but neglect the context surrounding them?
Like this one:
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you," (1 Peter 5:7).
Notice the writer of that verse. It's not a high and lofty saint-of-saints who never messed up and who could just formulate smooth sentences. It's not someone who just knew the right thing to say but never needed to really apply the words. This is Peter! Peter, who slipped up ALL. THE. TIME.
Just like me. And yet, I beat myself up when I don't feel like I'm measuring up.
But right there, Peter tells us that we really can cast all of our anxiety on the Lord. Because He cares for us. Peter--who was so incredibly far from perfect. Peter says that we can cast our anxiety on Jesus. Because Jesus cares. And Peter knows it's true. Because he experienced it firsthand. Again and again. And again.
That sure motivates me. That sure makes me feel like I can really do this: I really can lay down that voice that replays in my mind and brings me to my knees in worry and consuming thoughts. Whenever it rises up in my mind--I really can lay it down at the feet of Jesus. He really cares. Our God is so merciful and faithful. He's not getting sick of hearing my cries.
And He won't get sick of hearing yours, either.
Oh, God, I'm so thankful for Your mercy. Thank You for so many mornings, and that each one brings Your mercies again--fresh and new. Thank You that You don't expect us to measure up to Your perfection. Because You know that we can't. Thank You that we really can cast all of our anxiety on You. Thank You, God, that You want to take it from us. Because You care for us so deeply. Thank You that, in Your great mercy and faithfulness, You cover us with Jesus and invite us into Your hope.
Are you struggling with anxious thoughts? Do your memories play over and over again in your mind? Do you want to let go?
I'm so happy to announce that my new Captive Cards are in the shop today! 21 cards to help us take our thoughts captive, replace them with the truth, surrender them to Christ, and resolve to live differently.