Broken Record Cares and Concerns

I am probably dating myself when I say that my thoughts are reverberating through my mind like the sounds of a severely scratched, broken record.  Over and over and over again, my wandering thoughts loop back to the same repetitious thought, “Are we ever going to get out of here?”

I am a planner.

All through  my life, I’ve made one plan after another. As an educator, I wrote lesson plans, unit plans, substitute plans, student behavior plans, and more. As a mom of three, I’ve created countless organizations, procedures, charts, arrangements, strategies, proposals, systems and devices to assist our sons through our family’s exciting, challenging and diverse stages of life.

Yet, as I attempt to develop a game plan for our family’s return to South Africa, my mind screeches along the familiar scratched-up groove of my broken-record thoughts, “Are we ever going home? What if we cannot return to South Africa this year? What are we going to do if we can’t get out of here?”

A broken-record mentality is indicative of anxiety. I’ll admit it. My repetitive, worrisome thoughts are tiring. I’m not sleeping well – John will attest to that as I continue to tug and often rip the covers off him at night. My broken record of agitation and stress are keeping me focused on my concern that we may not be returning to South Africa anytime soon. It’s not a good look for this missionary girl. For years, I’ve claimed a life that isn’t bent towards fear. Yet, in recent weeks, I’ve struggled with the fear that our family may not be able to return to South Africa due to the world-wide pandemic.

So, what do I do about this fear conundrum?

I go to my Bible. I confess that I am beyond thirsty for a word of encouragement from my God about my family’s situation and what He has to say about it. Since I am focusing upon fear and anxiety during this coronavirus pandemic, I have a good, long list of verses to steady me – as long as I pay attention and apply these soul-assuring truths.

Today, I shut my eyes, and extended my finger as I dropped my forefinger upon my verse list.

Here’s is the Scripture that appeared before my seeking eyes:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

New International Version, Isaiah 41:10

It’s as if my God said: “Well, there you go, Heather. This is my word for you, today, tomorrow and every day. My promise is anchored in these undeniable truths:  I am with you. I am your God. Because of my relationship with you, I will shield you, protect you, and strengthen you regardless of time and circumstance. I am for you.”

Through His exhortative, strengthening word, my God called me to center my eyes, my thoughts and my attention upon Him as my family and I continue to wait to return home to South Africa – and even if, such a date proves to be even more elusive as time passes.

My God understands that my mind is vulnerable to anxious distraction. In fact, the word dismay from this verse comes from the Hebrew transliterated word, sha ‘ah. Sha ‘ah means to gaze about in  anxiety. Sha ‘ah also can be the action of looking away and being dismayed by the fears, worries, and concerns that capture one’s attention. Instead of focusing our eyes upon the hope and power of Jesus Christ in our situation, we are distracted by what we see and even by what we don’t see happening in our future.

Yet, my God instills me with peace with his long and strong chain of promises.

Isaiah calls upon God as ‘Elohim. His choice in this name of God is not lost upon me. ‘Elohim is my  Creator. The El of God’s name denotes unlimited power and strength. The second part of this name means to keep a promise. ‘Elohim is a plural noun which signifies that God, my Father, Jesus, my Savior, and the Holy Spirit, my Counselor and Friend are all present with me and ready to help me – here and now – as He extends his right hand. Thus, ‘Elohim is my God of unlimited power and strength who keeps His promises to me! He will help me, and He will protect me – anytime, anywhere.

The right hand of ‘Elohim is the pinnacle symbol of God’s promises of protection, power, strength, provision, victory, and presence. Imagine this: ‘Elohim extends his right hand of protection, power, provision, and strength upon us – right where we are – and brings us through this discombobulating season with comfort, with strength and with victory.

Yet, to experience the comfort, strength and victory of the Lord, we are asked to do something significant – something I haven’t been very successful in doing the past few weeks with my broken-record thinking.

The exhortations of the Lord are clear:

Do not fear.

Do not be dismayed.

In other words, my God is saying to me:

Heather, stop worrying about when you will return to South Africa.

Heather, focus your eyes upon Me. Refrain from looking at this-that-and-every-other-thing that makes you worry about what you are and what you are not doing during this time. Your identity and purpose are not bound by these things. Your identity and purpose are found in Me. I will be your strength and support today, tomorrow and in the days to come. By my providence, I observe and order your life. I guard and protect it. I will be your strength, your comfort, and your supply.

The Message succinctly puts it all this way:

Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

And even when, life becomes more challenging and more difficult, the Lord, my ‘Elohim, asks me to not fear. In suffering, in hardship, in disease, and even in death, our Lord is with us. We can depend upon His love, His grace, and His power to sustain us and strengthen us. We will be able to resist temptation, endure uncertainties, bear losses, and walk forward in the courage, love, and strength of Jesus Christ as we do what our God asks of us – for His Kingdom Glory.

Today, the Lord silenced my broken record cares and concerns regarding our family’s future. In this shelter-in-place time, I realize that I have become more prone to fear and discouragement than what has been my usual, faith-filled, steady and sure stance. Perhaps it’s because I’ve felt so directionless and purposeless. Yet, even in this seemingly erratic and aimless season, my God still speaks to me. He is still present and available.

My God declares – Fear Not! I am with you!

Paul challenges me, too, when he writes,

What, then, shall we say in response to these things – like a pandemic that is preventing you from flying home? If God is for us, who can be against us?

New International Version, Romans 8:31

The Lord encourages us in our faith walk to have hope in the midst of these faith-stretching, faith-strengthening times. We can depend upon the Lord’s presence in all matter of time and space.

He says, “Fear not for I am with you!”

Are you feeling anxious about your life situation? It may be different than mine. Yet, your fears are just as real and just as worrisome.

‘Elohim declares to you and me: I am with you!

The Lord promises us His presence.

Are your eyes, your thoughts, and your heart focused upon your worries?

‘Elohim declares to you and me: Be not dismayed!

The Lord promises us His power.

Are you feeling alone, feeling weak, feeling lost, feeling unsteady, feeling loss and without hope?

‘Elohim declares to you and me: I will be your strength.

The Lord promises us His protection.

Are you feeling like you are stuck, are sinking into a pit of despair, or feel like you have no purpose?

‘Elohim declares to you and me: I will help you and guide you through your time of need.

The Lord promises us His provision.

Be encouraged, my friends. We can look upon our challenges without fear or dismay. Our God is with us. Our God is for us. Our God is a reservoir of boundless love, strength, power, and grace who will see us through today, tomorrow, and forever.

We don’t have to keep circling upon scratchy, discomforting grooves of broken record fears.

We can, instead, ask our Lord to lift us out of these channels of despair and be caught up into His gracious, loving, help-giving arms.

What fears and anxieties are you dealing with today? Would you like to be free of your broken-record thinking?

It all starts with us acknowledging our need of God’s presence, His power, and His provision.

Claim His words:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

6 thoughts on “Broken Record Cares and Concerns

  1. Shirley Hethorn May 26, 2020 — 8:05 pm

    And all we can do is keep on keeping on.!God is there. He will hold us up. My assurance of that Friday, after stepping on the edge of the sheet I was putting on my bed and doing a full face plant on the floor. OOOOPH The rib hurts very badly. Yes it is separated from the sternum. There are so many things that I can’t do now. Oh Well, someone else will have to do them Thank you LORD that Codey is home all day, every day to help with stuff…..He was getting awfully bored any way. 😋 God is STILL GOOD!

    1. Oh Shirley, how painful for you!!! John’s mom recently fell forward too and broke her thumb and strained her wrist. Not good. We will definitely be praying for you and that healing and recovery comes soon. We love you! ❤

  2. Sylvia Mitchell May 26, 2020 — 11:05 pm

    Heather, thank you for sharing your heart and the Isaiah 41:10 I have
    anxiety concerns often during these days and I found
    that scripture was heaven sent today.
    We will pray it for you.🙏 please pray it for me. God is with you. ❤️Sylvia

    1. Dear Sylvia, I am so glad that these words encouraged your precious heart. May the peace of God fill you and address the anxiety you are experiencing in tangible ways. I love you, heather ❤

  3. Sondra Wayman May 28, 2020 — 9:44 am

    Thank you for the encouragement. Waiting for our house to sell and move to Lesgue City, TX.

    1. Hi Sondra,
      I hope your house sells and you get the price you are seeking. I also pray your move to Texas goes smoothly. Thanks for letting me know. Blessings to you!
      Love, heather

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