I couldn’t stop the tears even though I was exhausted from crying. I made my way to the front of the church for prayer, again. I had given my struggle over to God last week during Sunday morning service, and the week before that, and the week before that. But I couldn’t seem to rest in knowing He had it all under control. I still dragged around a weight of responsibility that grew heavier each day.
This became a familiar pattern in my life. I read verses. I prayed. I told God I trusted Him with my circumstances. Yet time and time again I found myself agonizing over the same problems. I lived each day feeling more tired than the day before. My joy had been zapped by worry, weariness, and defeat. I longed for change and wanted to enjoy my dependence on God’s grace in my life. But how? How could I truly cast my cares on Him and embrace the victory He gave?
It’s easy to get so used to life’s struggles that we forget to “rejoice in our confident hope.” (Romans 12:12) But the apostle Paul reminds us of God’s sustaining presence in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
When we understand the freedom that comes with fully depending on God, we will also rediscover the enjoyable life He intends for us to have. It’s here and available to us, if we are willing to receive it.
Let’s allow the following reminders to help us, as we choose to enjoy our dependence on our God.
Accept the peace that comes through your dependence on God.
I recall the overwhelming feeling of worry that accompanied me to church that day. When my pastor noticed tears forming behind my glasses, he made his way over to my seat. I have no doubt God directed him as he administered a dose of tough love that the Lord knew I needed.
“This is not about them. This is about you.” His hand stretched toward my family, then pointed back to me. God’s message pierced my heart. I realized worry over our current circumstances had consumed my thoughts. I needed to reconfirm my dependence on God for the wellbeing of my family and accept peace once again.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27)
In the most uncertain time of the disciples’ lives, Jesus gave them a gift with eternal value. The gift of His peace. Though they didn’t understand what was about to happen to Jesus, they accepted His words and agreed to trust His will.
Jesus’ gift is still available to us, but we need to release whatever we are holding onto today and open our arms to receive it. If we don’t welcome His peace, we risk allowing fear, worry, and frustration into our lives. Jesus’ peace is more powerful than all of these combined. Let’s thank him for this incredible gift and enjoy peace as we trust our families and futures to him.
Realize there is rest through your dependence on God.
What did I do wrong? How can I fix this? If only I’d done it this way instead. Have you ever noticed how thoughts start small, then grow and grow until they totally consume you? Then, it seems nearly impossible to turn them off. They play on repeat in your mind, even when you try to find rest.
Nothing zaps my strength like carrying around a burden that was never meant for me. I can begin my day with an inspiring devotion, Scripture reading, and prayer, and still catch myself agonizing over life’s messes a few minutes later. It’s in those moments I need to reaffirm my belief that God is in control of my situation. I do this by asking myself the following questions.
Do I believe God holds me in the palm of His hand?
“He made my words like a sharp sword. He hid me in the palm of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow. He took good care of me and kept me safe.” (Isaiah 49:2)
Do I believe God has good intentions for me and my family?
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Do I believe God can do a better job of handling this problem than I can?
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
The answer to each of these questions is a resounding, “Yes!” And as we trade thoughts of turmoil with affirmations from God’s word, we will feel joy return and find the rest God gives to those He loves (Psalm 127:2).
Find freedom through your dependence on God.
You see, I thought my weariness came from the troubles my family was going through. I didn’t think I’d be happy again until we got past our problems. Everyone has a mountain to climb now and then, and I hoped we could just hold on until we made it to the other side. I wanted a downward slope where I could breathe and enjoy the view for a while. But God knew I needed more than to hold on and get through it. I sensed the need to search my heart and allow God to “renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
I faced a convicting truth during that defining day at church. God gave me a choice. I could continue to live with doubt, worry, and weariness, or I could find freedom. I said I trusted Him to provide for my needs and protect my family. But did I depend on Him enough to actually receive joy in the midst of my problems?
Once I renewed my commitment to give these burdens back to God, something amazing happened.
I didn’t walk out of church that day with a resolution or changed circumstances. The problem didn’t go away, but I’m totally okay with that, because I left with something even better. I left with a renewed freedom in Jesus Christ that brought a bounce back to my step I’d forgotten I had. I found joy in letting God be God.
When we find ourselves stuck in a hopeless place, our loving Father tells us there’s so much more to this abundant life He offers. If we wait for life to calm down before enjoying our dependence on God, we will miss out on the unspeakable joy He created just for us.
It is possible to enjoy life, even when we’re facing one battle after another. In the middle of our struggles, we have joy through His presence. Even when problems persist, God gives us reason to rejoice. Let’s reclaim the peace, rest, and freedom God gave us, so that we can enjoy every moment of our dependence on Him.
Kristine Brown is the author of the book,Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and the upcoming companion devotional for teen girls. For more resources from Kristine, visit her Life Enrichment Library at kristinebrown.net. You’ll find weekly encouragement to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Grill