There is a verse in the Psalms that really hits home to me: “My soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1). It’s a statement that I remind myself often. Because, like many of us, it’s easy for my soul to seek rest in other places.
I want everything to run smoothly. And sometimes if I encounter a bump along the road of my plans or receive an outcome that’s unpleasant, I feel unable to rest until it’s fixed. Our circumstances can easily rule our emotions if we let them. But God doesn’t want us to be at the mercy of our varied life events, or the hopeless perspective we can sometimes have about them.
The Bible directs us to look beyond our circumstances. This is a recurring message throughout His word. Rather than getting swept up in the whirlwind of daily events, we should become rooted in the solid foundation of God. Practically speaking, this means leaning on God’s character and seeking after His perspective.
Leaning on God’s Character
In order to be able to rest in God, we need to meditate on His goodness. Focusing on God’s love is the door to trusting Him. When we grasp that we are precious to Him, we will know He’ll take care of us. Combine this with the realization of His power — His ability to do immeasurably more than we can imagine — and we know we’ll be okay.
Unlike the unpredictability of life, Scripture comforts us with the fact that God is unchanging. “He is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is referred to as the “rock” (Psalm 62:2) on which to stand. While even close friends will change, we can depend on God remaining good. We can depend on His being continually loving and compassionate.
I love the way in the book of Isaiah talks about what it means to be confident in God. It gives an illustration of a tree near a stream. It says that even when heat comes, even during a drought, the tree continues to flourish. The reason for this, is that the tree “sends out its roots by the stream.” It is constantly drawing from a life giving source. Therefore, “it does not fear when heat comes and its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and it never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Drawing from the source of God, means shifting the focus of our minds and hearts to Him. It means awakening our awareness to His good and powerful presence.
The Greatness of God
We are first to see God as our friend who comforts us by His incomparable understanding. Then, we find comfort in knowing He is bigger than whatever is going on around us. Like the tree, our circumstances of “heat” and “drought” will come and go, but we have a stream near us.
The disciples must have been petrified when a huge storm rocked their small boat. But Jesus is unphased as He says to them, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Perhaps if they knew at that moment who they were with, they would not have been afraid. We need to know who we’re always with. John Ortberg says, “Peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.”
When we know who God is, and truly believe we are in His hands, we are, as David said, “not shaken” (Psalm 62:5).
I like the illustration of flying in an airplane. When you simply know that the airplane will get you from point A to point B, you don’t really worry when you hit a rough patch. You know it’s just momentary turbulence, a patch that comes and goes. However, if you doubt the skill of the pilot, you might see that turbulence as a sign that any second you’re going to crash.
We can choose if we will believe in God’s character and trust He will take care of us. And if we do, our problems can be seen as merely turbulence on the way to His destination.
Seeking His Perspective
Along with grabbing on to His nature, the way for us to remain grounded in stressful times is to seek His view. God has a perspective for everything that happens in our lives. He has a purpose for allowing events, be it the desire for our growth, repositioning us for the future or bringing issues up in order to heal them (to name a few).
We may see a situation that looks hopeless or unfixable, but God sees the potential beneath it. Gaining God’s view, is looking beneath what circumstances look like, into what could be its a deeper purpose.
It is also recognizing that God will get us to the other side. God is the author of hope, and He wants His children to receive this medicine to their souls during trials. Sometimes this means He will turn an event around completely, and He wants you to anticipate that. Sometimes it means He will teach us something new to help you or a relationship. Perhaps He wants you to cling to Him, refine your faith and experience a new level of intimacy with Him.
So, while we may see something as pointless, horrible or impossible to change, God sees it differently. And since His thoughts are always the truth, we should attempt to look for them.
We are invited to follow David’s example and redirect our focus by speaking to our own souls. “My soul finds rest in God alone. He alone is my rock and my salvation … He is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1). Mind you, David said all this while being chased by Saul’s army. If he can train himself to take refuge in God, can we not?
Sometimes if I feel myself being emotionally overwhelmed, I will place my hand on my heart and focusing on each word, say slowly out loud, “My soul, find rest in God alone.”
It’s our choice. No matter the hardship of changing old habits, we can decide to practice new ones. We can deliberately start looking up “to the hills, to where our help comes from” (Psalm 121:1), even if we have to remind ourselves of it constantly. We can meditate on the truth of God’s character and then lean on it, as David did.