Like you, I spend way too much time in the weeds of life. I let frustrations about slow drivers in left lanes occupy my soul. I worry about my next meal (one look at me and you'd know how silly that is). I get down about the news - the shootings, the shutdowns and the foolishness of people who should know better. My parents only had to worry about the news in the morning when the paper came. I get news alerts on my phone I didn't even sign up for, telling me about the latest Kardashian baby.
I totally get why people want to check out; it's easier than dealing with all the heaviness in the world. It's appealing to lose yourself in a video reality or in the drama someone is creating on Facebook. I wonder if binge-watching the latest Netflix series is another way not to feel.
My emotional capacity is pretty small. I can handle about 15 minutes of emotional intensity, and then I get antsy. I want to fix the problems, so I don't feel them anymore. If the problem can't be fixed, I have a hard time letting it go. So, I eat something. Or I get depressed. Or both.
Sometimes I wonder how God deals with all this. This is his world, after all, and there is a lot going on down in the weeds. He must weep over a shooting in Sebring. He feels the hunger pains of the children in Somalia. I think his heart breaks when a bullet cuts down an innocent child on the southside of Chicago.
God must be incredibly frustrated at politicians. Does Kim Jong Un make you mad? Imagine how God feels about the president of a country who demands to be worshipped. Do you wish Republicans and Democrats would quit posturing for the cameras and get down to business? I'll bet God occasionally considers sending personal lightning bolts addressed to Washington, D.C.
How does God stand it? When we talk about God being infinite, it means he has infinite emotional capacity. God never needs to shut down, check out or binge. No flood of emotion ever overwhelms him.
God can also see the whole picture. I think about this (I know, I think about strange things). God sees my crisis of today as his opportunity for tomorrow. God knows that Kim Jong Un will pass from the scene one day. God knows the government shutdown will end. God is at work in the life of the little brother whose sister was shot. There has never been a human being who has been able to block or thwart the will of God.
This is why I need to praise God. Praising God is not just about singing or lifting hands. Praising God is realizing who God is and how He is at work. When I praise God, I remind myself to look at my life from his perspective. Blocked by that slow car in the left lane? God sees the fear in that driver's soul. Maybe God is slowing me down to pray for that driver. When food thoughts take control of my mind, I remember the words of Jesus: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." You'd think I would remember that doing God's will fills my soul better than any Little Debbie snack cake.
When I praise God and remember his view, I make my news feed my prayer list. I pray for Republicans and Democrats. I ask God to bring me peace when the tragedy happens too close to home. I even pray for the next little Kardashian. I make my requests known to God, and this peace from God stands on guard duty over my heart and mind. I make different and better decisions when I have peace from God. I understand my feelings and thoughts and how they combine when God's peace is upon me. I get that peace by seeing things from God's viewpoint. I see that viewpoint when I praise God.
When I get down, praising God is the hardest thing to do. Maybe first I have to lay out all my troubles to him. But as I lay out all those troubles, I will hear the Spirit whisper to me: "Praise me. Praise the Father and the Son. Get out of the weeds. See things from my view. Let your soul be open. Let my peace, that passes all understanding, calm all the anxieties, depressions and frustrations of your soul."
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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