"I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."
- Psalm 16:7 NIV
The other day, I woke up with new and unrelenting aches and pains in my body that made it difficult for me to function normally. I had a busy and challenging day ahead of me, and hurting all over was not going to make things easier for me. Immediately, a series of negative thoughts came to mind - "You're getting older, so you should expect pains and problems like these," and "You need to just accept the fact that you can't do the things you used to." As I tried to think of anything I could have done to hurt myself, I became fearful and fretful, and I kept coming up empty. I took a moment to pray and ask the Lord to show me what I might have done to injure myself, but by the end of the day, I still had gotten no answer. I finally went to bed, surrendering to my exhaustion and weariness. A few hours later, I awoke out of a deep sleep, and the Spirit of God reminded me that the day before, I had been playing on the floor with my baby grandson, and had gotten myself into some awkward positions that had caused my intense soreness. I immediately felt a sense of relief, and I thanked and praised the Lord for giving me the insight I so desperately needed.
This experience taught me how important it is to resist fear and anxiety when we're waiting to hear from God in a situation. Years ago, I heard a godly woman say that when we are afraid or worried, we lose our sense of direction. On the other hand, when our hearts and minds are at rest, we are more sensitive to our Savior's voice. David wrote, "I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me." (Psalm 16:7 NIV) This is the Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance when I heard from the Lord in the middle of the night. Our God offers us divine counsel in every matter that concerns us, but we don't always receive it when we need it, because we are too busy or too fretful. Especially in today's world, where we are continually surrounded by noise and activity, it can be difficult to discern the Lord's "still, small voice". (1 Kings 19:12) Then He may have to instruct us during the night, the only time He can get us to be still. When the apostle James writes about how we should ask God for His wisdom in times of trial, he talks about the importance of asking in faith. He says that "the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:6-7 NIV) That day when I was racking my brain trying to figure out why I was in so much pain, I couldn't receive an answer from the Lord because I was being tossed about by my fears and doubts. God was prepared to impart His wisdom to me as soon as I asked for it, but my anxieties caused a delay in the process.
This experience also taught me how Satan and his dark forces can use our unsettled state to plant negative ideas and explanations in our minds that can rob us of the solutions and victories that God has for us. The devil is skilled at creating spiritual "smokescreens" that have the potential to mislead and deceive us. He always tries to make us believe that things are a lot worse than they really are. That's why it is important for us to follow the apostle Paul's instructions to "cast down imaginations" and "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV) By rejecting ungodly thoughts, we prepare our minds and hearts to hear from God. But that's only part of the process. We must also fill our minds with the truth of God's Word. By meditating on Scripture regularly, we gain God's perspective on everything that comes our way, and we increase our sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) The Lord has answers to prayer waiting for you. Will you prepare yourself to receive them?
Prayer: Lord, help me to cooperate with You for the growing of my faith. Plant in me a hunger for Your presence and Your Word. Teach me how to trust You even in tense and painful situations. Thank You that as I do my part in the process, I will receive ready answers to my prayers!
- J. M. Farro