My Hymn of Praise (Forever Jesus)
Have you ever gotten something stuck in your head where it rolls around as a thought on some kind of endless, often maddening, loop? Maybe it was a conversation you had that went awry or a conversation you’d like to have that you keep rehearsing, or an embarrassing scene you really wish you could forget, but there it plays, over and over and over.
Perhaps the fact I can so vividly describe it betrays that I have had a few of those myself. I specifically recall one unwelcome obsessive thought that would not go away, and was only increasing my anxiety. I was driving in my car alone and said aloud to myself, “I wish I would obsess over Jesus like this, instead of this memory.” Then I said out loud, “Jesus!” and smiled. And each time after that when the pesky thought train began, I’d repeat the name of Jesus, and begin to praise Him instead. It did not take long for that destructive thought train to go off the tracks, and my peace and rejoicing in my Savior increased.
It is a lesson I have taken with me in the many years that have passed. Our lives are indeed filled with shifting sands beneath our feet that leave us feeling very unsteady. There is a direct correlation between our level of anxiety and our feelings of control and stability. But in our day things, institutions, values, and people we once believed were rock solid have become so unstable as to make our fears and feelings of uncertainty rise. If we keep our eyes focused on them we will lose our peace completely, however, the Scripture repeatedly reminds us, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” This is because we will be afraid—it is natural, it is human—but God wants us to realize that our times of fear are actually His invitations to turn our eyes to Him and to trust in Him more and more.
When we turn our eyes to Jesus, we see that He is faithful, He is the perfect expression of the steadfast love of God, He is perfectly in control, He is compassionate to us in our weaknesses, failures, and pain, He is King—reigning in sovereignty, justice, mercy, kindness, love, and holiness. No matter how much our world is shifting around us, He never changes, He never fails, He never falters. When we look at Jesus we see His forgiveness, the lengths He would go to display that God is for us, and this promise to take us safely to His arms, making us spotless and blameless in His sight.
Whatever it is that comes against us to seek to undermine us, discourage us, or cause us fear, if our minds would only turn immediately to the thoughts of Jesus, all that He is, and all that He has done, we will find a harbor of peace for our buffeted souls. And if we would make Him the meditation of our souls every day, not just during our stormy times, we will find that although our boats may still get rocked, we will see that they get righted much more quickly, because we will hear Him speak “Peace be still” to our troubled souls.
He who is our companion through all of life will also be our “companion through the valley” of the shadow of death. I have had the privilege to walk alongside several Jesus-focused saints who have journeyed through that dark path, and have seen time and again how, despite the pain and uncertainty, they have found thoughts of Jesus to be their greatest comfort and source of strength. What a solace to know we do not walk any path alone when we have Jesus forever by our side. He is with us now, and He will be with us for endless days in eternity. Until that day that we are “home at last,” may He increasingly and intentionally fill our hearts, our minds, and our worship.