By Lauren Gaskill
Originally Published in Be Still Magazine, Issue 3
My skin boiled as I read the slip of paper that was taped to the closed door in front of me. “Tests stop being administered at 3:45 p.m.” the sign said. Three other people stood beside me, and each shook their head with disappointment as they turned to walk back to their cars. For the second time in two weeks, I was late to take the test to get my new Minnesota driver’s license. I knew I could just go back another Friday, but something inside me snapped. I’d driven one hour out of my way for this test. I’d even taken time off work. But I was late. To make matters worse, I was dealing with some major health problems that we couldn’t pinpoint to a specific condition. I’d been in and out of doctor’s offices for what felt like years, only to be told my problems were all in my head. All of these stressful situations created a recipe for disaster — and the driver’s license test was just the cherry on top of my sundae of misery.
What should have felt like a disappointment elevated to a deep anger within me, and when I got into my car, I slammed my fists into the steering wheel. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I yelled in frustration. In that moment, every pain that I was feeling in life snowballed into a fit of discontentment that I let ruin the rest of my day.
Sometimes, given the choice between surrendering or holding onto toxic attitudes, habits or behaviors, it is easy for me to find rest in God. Sometimes amid trials, I am quick to quiet my soul and remember God’s promises — that He is working everything together for my good (Romans 8:28). But other times, I am quick to accuse and complain. How could you, God? Why is this happening? This is not fair!
Maybe you can relate.
Have you ever gone into a tailspin of discontentment when you knew you should have surrendered a situation to the Lord and taken refuge in Him? I am right there with you, sisters. Though I’ve grown deeply in my walk with Jesus over the last five years, I am still learning how to say “it is well with my soul” in every life circumstance. It’s an area of my life that I work on daily. Like Paul, I want to cultivate a heart that is content no matter what situation comes my way (Philippians 4:11).
Emotions are persuasive and can overtake us in the heat of the moment, but as followers of Jesus, we have the power to make a choice. We can wallow in our emotions, or we can surrender them and bring ourselves back to the truth — back to God’s Word. We learn to do this, and we can learn to say “it is well with my soul,” in all circumstances.
Dear sisters, instead of feeling overwhelmed or discontent when things don’t go our way, what if we chose to remember all that God has done and all that He will continue to do for us? When we want to explode and let our anger get the best of us, what if we chose to quiet ourselves before the Father and remember His great grace and love for us?
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). And He means it. He is our Prince of Peace, and when we run to Him, He is quick to calm the storm.
This is not to say we are not entitled to our own emotions. We are. But that doesn’t mean we have to be a slave to them. Jesus died to free us from the chains of our wavering emotions. In Him, we are no longer slaves to fear. We are children of God. As daughters of God, it is my hope that one day our first instinct to stress won’t spin out of control. Instead, my hope is that we would run to Jesus and put our emotions aside to be able to say, no matter what happens, “it is well with my soul.”
Would you pray this prayer of surrender with me today?
God, when waters rise and the oceans rage, help me to always remember your Word and faithfulness so that I can learn how to be content in every situation. I pray that you would fill my heart with contentment. Let peace take the place of any anxiety and angst that resides within me. Help me to constantly fix my eyes on You and remember your promises and my purpose. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.