What do you do when faced with worries and obsessive thoughts? Steph encourages us to put our faith in God, and trust His plans for us.
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Learning About Obsession
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself obsessing about a single thing, usually something I want to make right but can’t, for one reason or another.
In fact, there is one particular unresolved issue that has been invading my thoughts and weighing me down for days. I’ve repeatedly reminded myself to pray when I felt the anxiety coming on. But it wasn’t until last night, when a vague notion became a concrete plan. I must still wait on word from another individual, but I am more settled.
Knowing myself, this obsession will likely release its hold only to be followed by another in the not-too-distant future.
Is this the way God wants it? I don’t think so. Let’s consider a few passages from the Psalms.
Psalm 139:1-3 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up: you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways” (ESV).
God knows everything about us—including what we obsess over. If we rest in the knowledge that He knows and cares about every detail of our life, it is much easier to cast aside those thoughts, those worries that preoccupy us.
Will we pray like the psalmist did further in the chapter, in verse 23? It says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts” (ESV).
There’s no use trying to hide our thoughts from the Lord. He knows each one of them. But by offering this prayer, we express our trust and vulnerability. The more often we do so, the more we learn that God can, indeed, be trusted 100 percent.
It begins to seem silly to obsess over things God already knows about and is willing and able to work out for our good, as it says in Romans 8:28.
If an issue continues to haunt me, I can—and should—take it before the Lord in prayer. I’ve found the more I do so, the more it loses its hold on me. I can move from crying out repeatedly for resolution to whatever the issue may be to thanking Him that He is in control. Of course there is great relief when the issue is resolved, but it is possible to find peace and hope before that time.
Place Your Faith In God
This reminds me of Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV).
I don’t know the future or when whatever issue is troubling me will be resolved, but I can place my faith in God and in His plans and purposes.
I called today’s devotional “Treasured Obsession.” And while we typically think of obsessions as unhealthy, “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing—though I wouldn’t necessarily use the word “intrudes.”
Psalm 139:17 says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (ESV)
How do we know what God is thinking? It seems presumptuous to think that’s possible. However, He graciously gave us a glimpse at His thought processes when He gave us the Scriptures. We must study them diligently. We must memorize them. We must allow them to preoccupy us. They must become our focus.
If we do so, those obsessions that threaten to rob our peace and cause us to doubt the trustworthiness and love of the Lord will have less power over us.
A Treasured Obsession
We can use them as springboards for our prayers.
We can dig into scripture passages that teach us how to handle whatever situation it may be and whatever negative thoughts and feelings the obsession may stir up.
We can humble ourselves before God and others, asking for their forgiveness if we have said or done something unkind or foolish.
We can also ask others to stand with us—to pray for us and to hold us accountable—to address these obsessions from a godly perspective.
We can see each obsession as an opportunity to grow in our faith and in our relationship with the Lord, rather than a stumbling block to doing so.
So just what would be a treasured obsession? To look to God and to trust Him, no matter what preoccupies and intrudes upon our thoughts.
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.
Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.
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Pray- Olivia Snow