by Janet Perez Eckles
Fall is almost here. We go into it with memories of hot summer days, walking on the sand and splashing in the water. This not-so-silly episode in one of Florida’s beach stands out…
“C’mon, Nana.” My granddaughter impatiently pulled my hand. Even at four years old, she knew to lead her blind Nana.
“Don’t go too far,” hubby said, from where he relaxed on a lounger.
With her small hand tight in mine, our feet sunk into the hot sand as we drew closer to the water. We jumped over the waves, giggled, collected shells, and giggled some more.
After a long while I realized I had no idea where we were—maybe too far from hubby. Was he still watching us?
I got on one knee and held my granddaughter’s wet cheeks between my hands. “Sweet baby, look at me, do you see Papa anywhere?”
“Nope. C’mon Nana, let’s jump.”
Suppressing the panic that cramped my stomach, I said silent prayers, the kind that blurts out from the heart. The kind you want to word just right so God would be quick to answer. And my silent pleas were those that bordered on self-pity. “Oh, if I could only see a little bit, this wouldn’t happen.”
With all traces of patience tossed into the sea, I quickly drew closer to a group of folks talking. “Excuse me,” I waved in the direction of their voices. Would you have a cell phone?” I said. “I think I lost my husband.”
As I gave the first few numbers for them to dial, I heard a familiar voice right behind me. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, there you are.” I grinned with relief at my hubby.
“I was watching you both the whole time,” he said.
A little shame swept over me. Not because of what had just happened. But I remembered how often, during tough times in my life, I doubted, I panicked, I feared that God took His eyes off me. I worried I had drifted too far from His love, His provision, and His care.
We all do that sometimes, don’t we? We listen to the news; fear grips us. We learn of the growing statistics of the virus; anxiety invades our peace. And the whole time, we wonder is God there? Is He watching? Does He care?
Even in the midst of our well-meaning prayer, doubt creeps in, because we’re still walking on the hot sand of uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fear leaves, doubt ends, and faith comes. They do when we follow these seven steps:
1. Readjust our priorities. Do we seek the answer to our prayer with more passion than we seek God Himself? Some seek answers first, but here’s God’s order of priorities: “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).
2. Resist the temptation to recite memorized, perfect prayers, with lovely words and deep insights. God simply wants the genuine expression of our heart. He’s listening. He even knows what we need before we ask Him, “…when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7 NIV).
3. Recognize that sometimes we don’t know how to pray or what our requests should be. So, we can freely ask for Him to show us what to pray for. Confident that He’s aware of every detail, we whisper to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV).
4. Remember that His answer is always in His timing, not ours because a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day that has just gone by (Psalm 90 NIV).
5.Relax and relish in the fact that while we wait, He’s at work in us, in our heart, in our situation because, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
6. Remove anxious thoughts. In the silence of the moment and in the power of His presence, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 NIV).
7. Embrace profound confidence, not in the world or government, but in the power of God because “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14–15 NIV).
Father, we praise You because You have Your watchful eye on us and You observe our anxious moments. Knowing that each tomorrow is in Your hands, peace fills us. In Jesus name we thank You.
About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly. Janet’s book, Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.
Join the conversation: What is your favorite go-to verse when you struggle with doubt or fear?