“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8, NIV).
When Rob and I married, we chose the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” to be played while we lit our unity candle. I had always loved the lyrics, but I had no idea how perfect they would prove to be not just for a single moment during a wedding ceremony, but for the day-to-day military lifestyle I was entering into.
So much of how we think, feel, and live depends on our vision—what we choose to see in any given situation. In fact, I believe that the difference between being simply concerned or being consumed by worry rides on where we tend to focus our sight.
In her book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver says, “Pastor and teacher Gary E. Gilley sums up the difference like this: ‘Worry is allowing problems and distress to come between us and the heart of God. It is the view that God has somehow lost control of the situation and we cannot trust Him. A legitimate concern presses us closer to the heart of God and causes us to lean and trust on Him all the more.’ Concern draws us to God. Worry pulls us from Him.”
Military wives (indeed, everyone on the planet!) will always have something to be concerned about. There are issues that simply cannot be ignored. But if we have done everything we can to help solve the problem and still find ourselves obsessing over it, we’ve crossed that line from concern to worry and find ourselves in dangerous territory.
The key to banishing worry from your heart is surprisingly simple. I look at it this way: Your heart (and mine) has a limited capacity. The best way to get rid of the negative thoughts is to crowd them out with something else bigger and more beautiful: worship of the One who holds everything in His powerful and capable hands. In other words, stop focusing on the root of your worries and shift your gaze to the Lord. It won’t make the troubles disappear, but it sure will help you to stop staring at them all day long!
King David was a master at this. Psalm 10 begins with “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” But by the time he gets to the end of the chapter, he changes his tune to: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more” (verses 17–18). Did you see that? He turned his worry into worship.
The next time your heart is troubled, check your vision. Focus on God and on His unchanging character. Trust in who He is and the promises He provides in Scripture, rather than what is going on around you.
What am I most worried about today? What can I praise God for instead?
Lord, please forgive my tendency to worry about things I can’t control. Help me draw closer to You and replace my anxiety by meditating on Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Jocelyn Green is a freelance author living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She and her husband, Rob (a former Coast Guard officer), are members of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, Waterloo, Iowa.
Moody Publishers, 2011
“Vision Check” is an excerpt from Jocelyn Green’s newest collection of devotional stories for military wives. Her first collection, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody Publishers, 2008), led to the development of FaithDeployed.com, where more than a dozen columnists contribute resources for military families. Her Faith Deployed Facebook page now has the largest following of military wives on Facebook.