When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Upstairs on my bedroom wall are two round picture frames. I embroidered these two pictures while I was on bed rest waiting for our twin sons to be born. The first frame is an embroidered picture of 2 fluffy sheep. The second frame has one sheep and a saying that says, “Don’t count sheep, talk to the shepherd.” These pictures are across from my bed where I can see them every morning and every night. They remind me that my futile attempts to find solutions to the problems happening in my life usually don’t work. It’s only when we bring our troubles to God that we find peace and calm.
Anxieties definitely multiply and seem more numerous at night as soon as our heads hit the pillow. This is where counting sheep comes in because we so often need a distraction in order to sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work. Scientists estimate that the average person thinks between 12,000-60,000 thoughts every day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. So it appears our anxious thoughts are being reinforced and we are stuck on a negative (not so) merry-go-round.
“Anxious” is the one word I hear used by everyone to describe their life during this time of pandemic and social change. We live in a constant state of anxiety that makes us hyper-vigilant, moody, and sleep deprived. Uncertainty about our future and loss of control cause us to be anxious and it’s literally making us ill – mentally and physically. As Christians, what can we do when we are overcome by our anxious thoughts?
The writer of this psalm has the solution to our anxious thoughts: the psalmist says we can turn to our loving God for comfort in order to calm down. God is our comforter in times of frustration, grief, anger, fear, doubt and anxiety. Go to God in prayer and place your life before him. Tell him all your cares and concerns. As God’s children, we have the Holy Spirit present with us, so we receive comfort, love and a sense of peace during these difficult times. In this way, we also receive comfort through Christ who suffered and who shares in our suffering with us. Our situations may not change, but God enables us to bear the unbearable – guiding us, strengthening us, loving and comforting us. God never leaves us. The Lord comforts us so we can calm down.
So remember, you don’t need to count sheep – talk to the Shepherd! His comforting will calm you down.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Are you in a place where your anxieties keep multiplying? Go to God in prayer, place your life in his care, and seek his comfort so that you can experience the calm and peace only God can give.
Prayer: Loving God, when I am anxious about what is happening in our world and I face decisions without any certainty, calm me down. Lord, give me the comfort and peace that comes from trusting you. Amen.