“There were still some good things in the land of Judah…” 2 Chronicles 12:12 NLT
With clients, with kids, with myself and in my small world, I am trying to remember this verse…there are still some good things in the land. In times of uncertainty, especially as we hold these fragile days lightly, it can be hard for some of us to have eyes to see the good in the land. 2 Chronicles tells stories of broken kings, leading their people further and further away from the truth and commands of God. Leaders, that the people asked for, continued to protect themselves and their reputation instead of trusting God. Sound familiar? But there were a few good souls God had the eyes to see…some good things in the land of Judah. I am praying for these God-like eyes to see…to see the beauty, to stay present, to remember that His faithfulness in the past means He is still faithful today.
I sat with a young client recently, who was struggling with anxiety from family crisis. His breathing was shallow. With tears filling his eyes, and his neck growing red, he began to tell the story. In the midst of his fear, all his body felt was uncertainty. He was worried, he was scared. He couldn’t find the good in the land.
Anxiety reminds us of what we don’t have, what we can’t do, and what we don’t know. Anxiety makes it very hard to see any good things in the land. As he shared, I reflected on my own anxious week, how I was living in the what ifs, the worst case scenarios, and my countless mistakes. It had been a tough few days and I felt a little beat up, just like the young man on my couch. He and I decided to make a shift and begin to spend some time focusing on what he did have, what he could do and what he did know. He could still watch his favorite movies and share with a friend. He could still sing songs loudly and laugh really hard. He still had his favorite sweat shirt and routines. He did still know that God was in control and that his mom was close by. As he realized all he had, and could do, and all the things he still knew, his breath deepened, his smile peered again and he sank a little into the couch. Some of the panic was gone. I felt calmer too.
We then talked a bit about anxiety and how it keeps us feeling without..and that really doesn’t feel good. In my mind, anxiety seems to keep us in a very poor state, kind of like an orphan. Do you see it? Orphans live this life of poverty, not having, not doing and not knowing. They live in survival mode, never knowing what is next, who will care for them and if they will make it. Anxiety keeps us living like orphans, in mental and spiritual poverty. It keeps us feeling threatened, on guard, and hungry. Anxiety is the terror of not having enough, not doing it right and not knowing whose in charge. Anxiety makes us forget.
Oh, but wait, as Christ followers, we don’t have to live like orphans any more! We are called to live like princes and princesses, children of the King….with heads held high because we have so much, His glorious riches. We can do so much because He has good plans already written for us, and we know deep down that He is there and He is safe and He holds everything together.
But sometimes, it seems, this is so hard for me to know, to remember…
That orphan screams loudly, throwing a temper tantrum even. There is an orphan inside me that has forgotten all I have and can do and know…the orphan forgets it’s been adopted by the King…and so the anxious thoughts keep my stomach upset and my heart racing… The worried mind lives in the regret or shame of the past or the fear of the future…not grounded in what’s true right now.
We aren’t meant to stay this way though, thank goodness. He has rescued us from our orphan state and called us His own. He has called us out of poverty into blessing. He can calm our anxious thoughts with the deep knowledge of who He is and what all that means. He wastes nothing and uses our poverty hearts to draw us to Him. You see, it’s actually because of our poverty, that our eyes look upward. That’s why we can trust scripture when it says to have joy in our suffering. The suffering, the poverty, leads us to Him!
In our efforts to survive, avoid danger and feed our starving hearts, at the end of us, when we are still hungry, still afraid and unable to care for ourselves, when all our efforts fail, that is what brings us to Him…that is when we can answer the call to become our richest selves. He uses the broken, poor orphan places to bring us into sonship with himself, the most perfect Father, Abba.
But knowing and remembering…that can feel hard. The forgetting brings the anxiety, but remembering sets our hearts at rest…remembering who we belong to, what we have, what we can do and what we know is true about Him.
Solomon, the wisest king, had some ideas right. For a time, he could see some good things in the land. With his wealth, he really saw most everything and this is what he decided was good….
“Remember Him before the light of the sun, moon and stars is dim to your old eyes.
Remember Him before your legs start to tremble and your shoulders stoop.
Remember Him before your eyes see dimly.
Remember Him before the sound of work fades.
Remember Him before you near the grave.
Yes, remember your Creator now, while you are young…” (Ecc. 12:1-6)
So when, the orphan screams and anxiety creeps….remember who you belong to, remember there are still some good things in the land….