I don’t know what it is about the night. If ever I am going to feel incurably overwhelmed, I guarantee it will be at night. Inevitably, James will notice the extra wrinkles in my brow, the concentrated effort to breathe steady, the uneasiness in my spirit. He’ll listen as I tick through all the things that seem insurmountable in that moment, and then he’ll simply say, “Get some sleep, honey. It’ll all be better in the morning.”
And it is! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lain my head down in total defeat at night only to awaken in the morning with a fresh outlook. I have come to love James’ words of comfort and encouragement. I find myself telling my kids the same thing when late night chats expose emotions, occurrences, obstacles, and ordinary relationships and responsibilities that have them feeling they just may not make it. I can totally relate, so I tell them what James tells me, “Get some sleep. It will all be better in the morning.”
Once again my self-proclaimed simple guy has encapsulated profound truth in a simple statement, and guess what? It’s biblical! It occurred to me the other day that the Bible speaks to this specifically at least twice.
In Lamentations 3:22-24,the prophet Jeremiah comforts himself, saying, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”
We will not come to our end because His deep love, mercy, and tender affection will not come to an end. They are fresh at the break of each new day. The kind of renewable that truly sustains. And because His compassions fail not, the end of our rope is not the end of our hope!
In Psalm 30:5, David declares, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” We may pass the night distraught, deeply grieving, or crying out in desperation, but when day breaks, it’s time to be overcome with rejoicing. It’s time to break out in a shout for joy!
What if we don’t feel like it the next morning? Do it anyways! We can’t let feelings regulate our faith or our obedience. As Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Then in verses six and seven, he instructs us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Praise brings peace. Do you see it? And as we rejoice in Him with each new day, His provision, presence, and peace are enough for that day.
God’s provision comes every morning, just as it did for the Israelites in Exodus. They have just embarked on their wilderness journey and complain against Moses because of their hunger. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. and the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day’” (Exodus 16:4). When the dew lifted, God’s provision was there, and the Israelites were to gather each according to their need for THAT DAY. No more, and no less. And that’s just what God gives us for our days, too.
Notice, God sent the manna, but the Israelites had to gather it before it could satisfy their hunger. He gave them the ingredient. They had to make it into food. As He provides for our every day, we have to do our part in applying His provision to our responsibilities. Here are some of the things I do when anxiety overwhelms me:
1. I pray, telling God every little thing that’s churning in my mind and heart. We are told to cast our cares on Him (I Peter 5:7). Literally, throw our anxieties – those things that make us feel divided and disjointed – upon God, “for He cares for you.”
2. When anxiety threatens to split my head, I will write my prayers in a journal to God. Transferring them to paper helps me place them securely in the hands of God.
3. At night, I’ll read my Bible until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, training my thoughts on Him and not on my troubles.
4. If I’m overwhelmed with things I have to do, before I go to bed, I’ll write out a schedule for the next day and prioritize my tasks. I note my commitments first, which reveals windows of time in which I can tackle a few tasks. This system helps me to be realistic about what I can accomplish with the time I have. Next, I choose the most important jobs and assign them to my day first. Another trick I learned when I was in direct sales is to do the thing you dread the most first. Get that monkey off your back. You’ll be amazed at the stress that will relieve!
5. If my stress is due to feeling backed up on things in my office or around the house, I sometimes get up extra early the next day and use the quiet early morning hours when I’m the only one crazy enough to be awake to first spend time with the Lord and in His word, and second to have uninterrupted time to take care of some of the things that require my attention. It’s amazing what this does to lift anxiety and my spirits. I find the relief outweighs the sacrifice of a few hours of sleep.
Above all, stay in the day, as Matthew 6:34 insists, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Perhaps that’s why God’s compassions renew every morning. His joy comes in the morning. We rejoice and praise Him every morning because we absolutely have to remember and remind and restate who He is and what He says He’ll do for us in order to make it! And He’ll give us exactly what we need for that day – nothing more and nothing less. And we can lay our heads down at night knowing He’ll give us exactly what we need the next day too.
“My son, let them not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion; so they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21-24).
Lord, help us to roll our cares on You, for You care about us. As we do, may we be more fully able to become wholly Yours and do what You have for us to do.