“I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.”
A few nights ago I found myself unable to fully rest. I was going in and out of sleep but I awoke often with anxiety and this feeling that I couldn’t fully catch my breath. The medicine I take at night makes me drowsy enough to fall asleep easily, but that night, my anxiety was winning over the sedative effects of the medicine.
In an attempt to sleep deeper I awoke and turned to the Bible app on my phone. The Scripture of the day was found in Psalm 18. I found myself clinging to the words in this chapter. David sang the words of this Psalm to the LORD when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. In reading this passage I got the sense that David was overflowing with praise for His God – His deliverer.
Like David I have been overflowing with praise to God for a significant reduction in my pain. But over the past couple of months, I have found myself spending more time grieving the free time that I have lost from being healthier (crazy I know, right?). When I was in extreme pain I had someone watching my kids 3 – 4 days a week leaving me time to rest, spend time studying God’s word, writing, and reading. Now that I am feeling much better, I am taking care of my kids full time again.
I remind myself of the Israelites who complained to Moses and Aaron 2 1/2 months after they had been delivered out of Egypt.
They said that they wished they had just died in Egypt because at least they had all the food they had wanted. (Exodus 16:3). Here I was 2 1/2 months after receiving a significant decrease in pain longing for the free time I had when I was sick.
But yet when I was sick, I longed to feel well enough to take care of my kids. I longed to get out of the house and enjoy going to the park or the library with my family. Now I have that again – I can take my kids to the park or the library, I can grocery shop for myself, etc…. I can enjoy the basic things in life again.
I realized that I think the thing I miss the most, is that sweet time I had with God when I was sick. I was so desperate to find joy in the midst of my pain that I clung to God’s word daily. Without Him, I would get swallowed up by my suffering. But now that I am feeling better I can easily get swallowed up by the stuff of life – raising my kids, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc…
I think it all comes back to focus as I have mentioned in several previous posts. On whom or on what are we focused on – ourselves, our circumstances, our kids, our house, our jobs, our bodies, etc…?
I think I was drawn to Psalm 18 because it was reminder of God’s deliverance in my life. It caused me to shift my focus to God and His glory and goodness, instead of focusing on me and my needs.
As I have been practicing the discipline of daily counting the gifts in my life, I have become more convinced that praise and thanksgiving automatically shift our focus from ourselves to God. As we continue to focus on the gifts that our God has given us, our attention gets shifted from ourselves to the giver of all good things.
Our enemy loves to get us to shift our focus on to ourselves – it is here where we get distracted, become ungrateful, become entitled, and become full of ourselves.
Our focus fuels our passions.
My prayer is that we all can stop what we are doing and look to Him. And as we shift our focus to Him, we will not be disappointed. Through Him and Him alone we will find hope and rest in the midst of our circumstances (good or bad) here on Earth.
(For the past few months, I have been chewing on the idea of hope in the midst of suffering- so stay tuned for a future post).