When you’re sleeping, what do we call the kind of clock that’s supposed to wake you up in the morning? An alarm clock! That’s not a real optimistic name. It would be nice if we called it the opportunity clock or the resurrection clock, but we don’t. The purpose of the buzz—is to wake you up. Once you’re awake, you turn it off.
I want to make an important distinction between two experiences: Alarm vs. Chronic anxiety
An alarm is a strong initial feeling of unpleasantness or concern designed to alert you that something’s wrong and motivate you to take action.
Imagine if a buzzer went off, you woke up—and never turned it off. You carried that buzzing sound with you all day. You go down for breakfast, it’s still going on; you drive to work, you’re not listening to the radio, the alarm is still going on. Moment by moment, hour by hour, all day long that sound does not stop.
There are people who live with chronic anxiety eating away at their heart and soul and it is more toxic by far than it would be to live with that annoying sound all day.
I love what the Big Fisherman said:
“…cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
And some well-meaning, but uninformed, soul says, “I thought that if you were a Christian, you didn’t have any fear or burdens to cast on God! I thought we had no need to worry.”
I have actually had people ask me if a Christian can suffer from emotional problems. I say, “Are you kidding? I’m close to a nervous breakdown myself!” When Christians are stuck with pins they bleed. Christians get cancer and die. Their kids do drugs. They go through a divorce. They have businesses that fail. Christians aren’t exempt from anything except hell.
A lady told me one time, “Joe, I could stand this if I knew it mattered to somebody–that anybody cared.” The good news of the Gospel is that it does matter to God. Now, that doesn’t mean it hurts less. That doesn’t mean that you won’t bleed, get wounded, or get sick and die. You’re exempt from nothing! But it does mean that every tear that you shed matters to God…and you can give it over to Him.
No matter how bad it gets, we have a promise from God’s Word that He will lift us up.
When I was about 5 years old my family and I lived in Zephyr, Texas. The house that we lived in had a field out back that pastured two mean, old gnarly rams. My brother who was 4 or so and I were forbidden to play in the field with the rams. My dad reminded us that they were mean and dangerous. My dad knew about these things, for he knew all things.
It might not be a good idea to forbid young boys from going exploring in a dangerous field. It arouses something primordial that is in our DNA. We will defy all thoughts of safety and boldly go where no 4 and 5 year old has gone before. (Let it be known that I really didn’t want to go into the forbidden field. I had a reputation of obedience as a wee lad, but my little brother made me go.)
We had a blast exploring the creek that wound through the mesquite grove. We fought epic battles and defended our positions and won the day. When our last foe was vanquished, we made our way back to the fence that bordered our backyard. In the corner of that part of the field, there were two wood pallets that were on their edge to form a solid corner and a makeshift ladder over the fence.
After my little brother had scaled the fence it was my turn. I had my hand on the top of the wood when I heard snorting from behind. I wheeled and saw that I was face-to-face with the old, mean, gnarly rams. They were mad. They shook their heads and blew snot out of their noses. I started to cry. For these were not pretend enemies, these were real. With his head lowered, the biggest one hit me full-on in the stomach slamming me against the wooden corner. I screamed as if this were a dragon blowing fire into my face. The ram backed up and charged again, slamming me for a second time into the wood.
What did my brother do? Did he try to come to my rescue? Did he try to fight off the demon sheep? Did he give me advice and counsel? Did he pray for me? Did he call out for help? No. I’ll tell you what the little redheaded 4-year-old kid did; he screamed bloody murder like the four-year-old that he was.
I am smiling as I write this now 50 years after the attack, but I will tell you I was scared out of my mind at the time. I had never been attacked by a demon sheep before. I believed I was going to die. Suddenly in the midst of that horror, as the ram was charging in for the kill, I felt a strong hand grab the back of my collar and pull me up with such force that the ram missed me and head-butted the wood barrier instead. I saw the blue sky as I rocketed upward and then felt two strong arms squeeze me tightly until the tears stopped.
It was my father.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he will lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)
Think about what is really keeping you awake at night. Maybe it is medical problem, perhaps it is your kids, or wondering if you’ll ever get married, your job, money, nobody loving you…it could be anything.
The Father is saying to you, “Child, just be still and toss those things over here and go to sleep. There’s no use both of us staying up all night.”