Life overwhelms me sometimes. It shouldn’t, but I let it anyway. I know better but some days I just can’t prevent it. There are so many things to accomplish. I have so much to do and not enough time in the day, and even if I had more hours in a day I couldn’t finish things to my satisfaction. There are too many duties, too many responsibilities, too many events, too many projects to keep track of, and things always slip through the cracks until the day after I needed to remember them.
On days when I let all that stuff get to me, I feel tired. Worn out. Stretched thin. “Like butter scraped over too much bread,” as Bilbo Baggins said in describing himself in Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. I don’t feel like I can continue. And then I start feeling afraid that I’m going to fail. And if I had to nail down the greatest fear in my life it would be letting people down.
And then the Lord sends along a random Bible verse like Isaiah 41:10.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Amazing how 33 English words can change your perspective on life almost immediately, isn’t it?
Don’t fear. We shouldn’t be afraid of anything. Not of the future. Not of the past. Not even of today. We shouldn’t fear people or situations or circumstances. Why? Because God has already seen them. He knew the troubles that were coming our way, and He’s already prepared us to meet them. Maybe we don’t know that He’s prepared us, but He has. So there’s no reason to fear because not only do we have everything we need to survive, He is constantly by our side. There’s no chance we can fail if we keep holding on to Him.
Don’t be discouraged. That’s a tough one sometimes. Feeling discouraged is easy for me. People discourage me. Work discourages me. My lack of progress discourages me. I tell myself that if I was actually a good writer I would be published novelist by now. But we’re not supposed to be discouraged. We’re not supposed to feel broken down and worn out because God is our God. We don’t serve a religion or a religious leader. We don’t serve a distant god somewhere out in the cosmos who created us and left us to fend for ourselves. We don’t serve ourselves. We serve God, and He always knows what’s best. And He always does what’s best for His children. And if we keep holding on to Him, trusting Him, not relying on our own understanding of why things happen or why things don’t happen, He will make the road we’re walking on straight so we’ll have no doubt which way to go.
This verse says He strengthens us. That He helps us. That He holds us up with His victorious right hand. . . . It would be enough that God holds us up with His right hand (not to put down any lefties out there, of course, because lefties rock . . . I should blog sometime about Ehud, the left-handed judge . . . he was a rock star) but it’s not just His right hand. It’s His victorious right hand.
Think about that. I mean, really think about that. God gives us His strength. He helps us. He supports us as we walk through life a day at a time.
If that isn’t reason enough to feel encouraged this morning, I don’t know what is. We’re supposed to press on through the day no matter what obstacles might arise in our path, recognizing that God’s strength is sufficient for us and that when it feels like it isn’t, that’s just our own brokenness telling us lies. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like listening to lies.
So today I am bound and determined to pay attention only to what I know is true: There’s nothing to fear. There’s no reason to be discouraged. God has given me His strength and is helping me get through this day. And when my old destructive self decides to butt in and tell me differently, I’m not going to listen.
And I guess, from a certain point of view, any amount of butter on a slice of bread improves the taste. And scraping it thin is probably healthier for you anyway. =)