Psalm 148:13 “Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.”
This has been a year of increased anxiety for many people. We live in stressful times, but soon after this year made its grand entrance the pressures only increased. COVID restrictions, unfamiliar work and social conditions, and an unprecedented election are only a few of the abnormal circumstances we’ve navigated. All of this, melded together with personal struggles and fear of the unknown, lends itself to sleepless nights, tension headaches, high blood pressure, and a general feeling of unease. But late one night as I tossed and turned, my head swirling like a tornado, I suddenly realized a good way to respond to my anxiety.
As I reviewed my apprehensive contemplations I began to understand that most of them pertained to two trains of thought. The first related to “what if” questions. What if this happens? Or what if that doesn’t come through? Most, if not all, of these ideas were only speculation and not based on anything solid. But once I allowed my mind to board that train, the panicky thoughts came faster and faster until I had worked myself into a tizzy.
The next damaging train of thought had to do with “what was” reflections. “I wish it was like it was before.” “Those days went by so fast, and I wish I could have some of them back.” “Maybe if I had done things differently we would be in a better place.” This mindset also caused consternation and added to the swirl of emotions keeping me wide-awake.
Once I understood the trains of thought that were taking me on a wild ride of anxiety, I decided I better get off before my mind and body collapsed under the pressure. It was time to change my thought patterns and focus on healthy and life-giving truth. That’s when I decided to concentrate on “what is” in my life. There are so many things for which to be thankful; so many reasons to praise God. I must choose to fill my mind with these.
Psalm 148 calls us along with all creation to praise God. Part of praise is thankfulness. By thanking Him for “what is” in my life I diffuse the confusing torrent of “what ifs” and “what was” thoughts that produce such great anxiety. The Lord knows the future and has it under control. He also understands the past and walked with me through every circumstance. So there’s no point in second-guessing. It’s time to leave that behind. But “what is” is where I can find relief and peace.
There’s no denying it, we live in a stressful world filled with many anxiety-inducing situations. So what train are you on? If you find yourself moving at tremendous speeds on the “What if” or the “What was” Express, then disembark as quickly as you can. Refocus your thoughts on praising God. Soon you’ll find that gratitude for “what is” replaces uneasiness with peace. And thankfulness is a very effective response to anxiety.