When My Mind Won’t Rest: Telling Jesus Everything
I find it most difficult to trust Jesus in the middle of the night when my mind won’t rest. Imagine the scene: it’s 2:30 AM and I’m tossing about with my bed sheets balled into my fists and my eyes wide open in the dark. I’m jealous of the quiet slumber of my husband beside me, our cat at my feet, and even my teen daughters in their peaceful bedrooms. I’m trying to quote scripture and pray, but nothing’s working to soothe my anxious thoughts. What does it mean that Jesus is my Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) on a night like tonight?
I know this familiar scene isn’t just in my bedroom. So many of us finally snuggle into bed only to find ourselves rattled by stress. We remember deadlines and obligations and all the people we’re disappointing. We worry and grieve over catastrophic news of other countries’ suffering, reports of accidents, and illnesses of friends and family. Then, our own selfish worlds feel so small, and we punish ourselves for this privileged anxiety we battle that—at least for me—has much to do with simply lagging behind the next days’ schedule. We went to bed unable to manage the parade of unanswered emails, unfolded laundry, unprepared meals, and unfinished projects.
On nights like this, I cry out: “Jesus, I don’t think I can do this! You are my Prince of Peace, but I don’t feel your guarding, peaceful presence in my soul! Help me!”
I move through all the scriptures I cling to when anxiety overwhelms me. I think first of Psalm 97:10 and how “God guards the lives of his faithful ones.” Then I go to Psalm 62:1-2: “My souls finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” I consider the repetition of the word alone. God alone is my rest. God alone is my rock. I picture myself in the grand fortress of Jesus’ guarding care in my soul. Here in my inner being where Jesus dwells by the Holy Spirit, I know that God loves me and delights in my well-being (Psalm 35:27). I know, too that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, and I recall Psalm 94:19 which states so beautifully that “when anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
I somehow arrive at a new morning, and I realize my choice to actively note the promised consolations of God and to trust and rely on His unfailing love for me. And I, perhaps most importantly, wonder what it takes for me to allow Jesus to console my heart. If Jesus is going to console me—just like a friend or family member—don’t I need to tell Him all about what’s going on? So I talk to Him, tell Him what I need, and ask for His presence and provision. I draw near through prayer and reading the Bible. I go to the One who alone is my rest. After I tell Jesus everything, I allow the consolations of God to flood my soul. It feels desperate and so helpless and exactly right. That’s me: desperate and helpless. Maybe that’s what all this stress was for: a beckoning into the presence of God, my heart’s true rest.
Heather Holleman’s new book, Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us explores the five ways God guards souls: by righteousness, peace, hope, power, and by an invitation to live Savior-focused instead of self-obsessed.