"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires on your heart.
Commit your way to to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, and the justice of your cause like the noon day." Psalm 37: 3-6
I was into some pretty heavy-duty "hand-wringing" at one time in my life. I was fretting a lot because, honestly, at the time, there were some situations worthy of fret...at least I thought so. And like I have mentioned before, I come from a LOOONNNNGGGG line of professional and well-practiced fretters:) It's what we do best and all we have known. But then one September, real, deep and soul-searching Bible studies came into my life and this worry, anxiety and fretting did not fit at all. Now what to do?
At first I thought the way out of the fret cycle was through choice, positive thinking, and sheer determination. Can I be honest enough with you to say this was exhausting for me? I was continually trying to "think good thoughts" when difficulties came my way. I was so often unsuccessful at fighting the tide of worry and fear enveloping my mind, I constantly felt defeated.
Then one wonderful day the Holy Spirit, my counselor, brought "Trust in the LORD and do good" into my life. I can't remember now who found that verse, my sister, Joni, or I as we were fighting off fretting, but it changed our lives. We found out it was not enough to just "think good thoughts;" you had to let go of the worry and then "DO good." That was the missing ingredient...the doing of good. We could let the worry go for a moment, but it was the doing something good that made the letting go stick. If you just sit there, guaranteed you will "let go" over and over until you give up or do something good!
Years ago when I was a junior higher, my best friend's mom was going through some depression because her husband, my friend's father, had left the family. I will never forget the moment we were driving into the parking lot of our church. My friend's mom let out a long line of cursing because she had forgotten her Bible at home. I was stunned. I had never heard this kind of language from an adult who I respected. She must have seen the look of "I think your mom just went crazy" fear on my face because she explained the reason for her outburst: Her therapist told her to "let all her inner turmoil out...If she wanted to cuss and curse, to go ahead and do it." This was supposedly going to help her out of her depression...to indulge the worst part of herself. This poor woman was sad and bitter until the day she died.
Today, even secular therapists and counselors are advising their patients to "look outward, away from themselves to the needs of others" as a way to help them out of depression, worry and anxiety. The Bible has always had the remedy for this common malady of humankind right there in black and white...trust in the LORD and do good.
My sweet sister gave me permission to tell her story of the healing impact of even baby steps toward a life of doing good, in hope that it might help someone else. It is a great honor to be allowed to give to you my sister's humble offering...
When Joni was in her twenties, she suffered with eating disorders: anorexia that eventually morphed into bulimia...and I mean suffered. There were a myriad of situations and experiences in her life that compelled her to try and control this one area. Her fear, worry and anxiety drove her to eat and then purge meal after meal. It is hard for some of us to understand how debilitating bulimia is for the victim. Day after day, she would cry out to God and ask for forgiveness and then return to vomit the next meal in the nearest toilet. As a Christian she knew this behavior was wrong, physically impairing her health and sin, but she could not find a way out of this miserable cycle. She read Bible verses that told her "not to worry," and she would give "not worrying" her best mental shot, but her mind would wander, and, sooner far more often than later, she found herself right back in the same place: looking into the bowl of a toilet.
One day as she was throwing up her latest meal, she cried out to her Savior in desperation. She hated herself for this weakness hidden from everyone save her Lord. Then in a moment that would forever change her life, she "saw" her Savior kneeling next her and lovingly putting His hand on her forehead as she vomited, and these simple words softly drifted into her mind; "I love you right here, on this bathroom floor, in this moment. I am right here with you always, and I will guide you out."
That morning she rose from the floor with a little bit of hope that maybe...just maybe, bulimia would not destroy her after all. Joni tells of sitting down at the table after this experience and the first thought that came to her mind was of some friends and acquaintances who had recently been through some difficult times. And then she remembered a box of cards secreted away in her desk, and for the next hour she penned notes of encouragement. Joni made a life-altering discovery that day: while thinking of others and how to encourage them, she had not one thought about herself. Without knowing it, her Savior had guided her to this truth: You can trust a Lord who loves you even in the midst of your sin, and He will guide you to the good works He has planned for you if you can still your heart for a moment and listen.
This was not an instantaneous healing from her bulimia, but is was definitely the first step out, and it wasn't long before Jesus gave her complete victory over bulimia!
Joy and healing of our tortured minds are so intricately entwined with that first step of trust and the continuing work of good our Savior has for us to do. What I love is that Jesus started out with something Joni could do right then at that moment. He can do that for us all. There is a joy-filled ninety-six year old woman at a local church who bakes a loaf of bread for all new members. She hands out water bottles to those who are working on projects around the church. Jesus gives her good to do even at ninety-six! And you can bet if this dear saint cannot knead another lump of dough with her weakening hands, He will in His goodness to her, give her something else to do that fits perfectly.
Trust in the LORD and do good! What a glorious prescription for spiritual, emotional and mental health! And the really cool part is that in doing good for others, you are doing what is best for you as well! Our God is into that kind of multiplying...do good, be a joy-giver, show sensitivity and compassion and the goodness, the joy, the sensitivity and compassion of our Savior rebounds back and fills those empty spaces in our minds where unhealthy thoughts hang-out and healing comes to deep wounds we never, ever thought we'd see healed.
Seven powerful words that can change our lives and the lives of everyone near us...Trust in the Lord and do good!
Love and a clear realization of Lord's good works He has for you!