“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”
There’s incredible, peace-initiating power when we pause, in the middle of our pleas, to thank God for all He’s done. This helps to still our anxious thoughts before they snowball, while centering us in the power and sovereignty of Christ.
As we prayerfully remember and acknowledge all the ways God’s shown up for us in the past, our current struggles don’t feel so overwhelming. Our problems and concerns are put in proper perspective when we recognize they’re in God’s hands.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
The more we focus on our worries, the more anxious we become, and soon our thoughts begin to spiral. But in Christ, we have the power to choose what we’ll think about. We can obsess on our problems and concerns, or we can deliberately focus on the good, excellent, honorable, and praiseworthy. That doesn’t mean redirecting our thoughts will be easy, and this will probably be something we will need to continually do. But the more we “take our thoughts captive” as 2 Corinthians 10:5 puts it, and focus on truth instead, the easier this becomes.
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Throughout Scripture, God repeats His promise to never leave us or forsake us. He’s omnipresent, which means He is everywhere, always. He’s with us when we’re by ourselves, feeling alone and frightened. He’s with us when we’re in a tense or hostile situation, when we’re facing unemployment, or when loved ones turn their backs on us. Through it all, whether we can feel His presence or not, God remains.
“He existed before anything else, and He holds everything together.”
God holds all things together—the world, the nations, our families, our lives. He is bigger, more powerful, and stronger than any force that could ever come against us. God is in control, always, regardless of what we see on the news or in our Facebook feeds. Not only is He in control, but He’s loving, merciful, faithful, forever with us, and attentive, too. The incomprehensive power of Creator God resides in a Father’s heart, a heart that is for you. And because God is sovereign, whatever we face must first be sifted through His hands.
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us.”
Paul wrote this verse to believers in Rome during a time of persecution. These believers may have felt as if God was against them or perhaps was punishing them. But Paul assured them this wasn’t the case. God was for them, and when the all-Creator, all-powerful God is for us, absolutely no one can stand against us. This means whatever we experience must first be filtered through God’s loving hand.
“And we know that God causes everything to work out together for the good of those who love God and called according to His purpose for them.”
God is working all things, even the most painful and frightening, for our good. This is true today and will be true tomorrow and 10 years from now. Even when it feels as if our lives are falling apart, God is still in control. When we read further back in Romans, we see God’s purpose is to make us more like His Son Jesus. Therefore, in context, we can rest assured knowing God is using our circumstances and setbacks to mold us, grow us, and guide us so that we more closely resemble Jesus.
“You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing upon my head.”
God goes before us, preparing our way. He stands behind us, ready to catch us when we fall. He walks beside us, as our guide, comforter, and friend. He places His hand of blessing upon our heads. He surrounds us with His love and care.
David most likely wrote Psalm 139 after taking the throne of Israel. Prior to this, he’d experienced incredible difficulties and the sting of betrayal. But as he penned Psalm 139, where he spoke of God’s faithful care, continual presence, and incomprehensible wisdom, David could see, looking back, how God had remained faithful. No matter what we face or are going through, one day, we will be able to say the same.
“Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.”
When facing a challenge we feel ill-equipped for, or when our time is short and our to-do list long, it’s easy to grow anxious. When we dig deeper, that anxiety is often rooted in a fear of failure—the fear that we can’t produce the outcome we desire. But Jesus is the fruit producer. Our role is simply to obey Him and then leave the outcome to Him, knowing He’s working out His plan, even in our apparent successes and failures.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today, nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The all-powerful, attentive, faithful, merciful, all-knowing, ever-present Savior loves us. He will always love us. Nothing we could do can ever diminish His love, nor could our most fervent and holy efforts make Him love us more. We are loved. Regardless. When anxiety comes, may we learn to rest in God’s secure and constant love.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Some translations say “the secret place,” indicating an intimate location where one finds protection. God is the safe place to which we can run, like a frightened child to her daddy. Once in His embrace, we rest deep within His strong arms.