“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:1-2 NKJV
“Unless the Lord builds the _________” fill in the blank. It doesn’t really matter . . . family, marriage, friendships, church, businesses . . . our lives as a whole . . . that’s “the house” we’re dealing with. Without God building and guarding it, all our work is for not.
I’ve been trying to write about these two verses for a couple days now. Two verses that encompass so much. Forming the words that convey what I’ve learned, am still learning, regarding them is not coming as easily as it usually does.
So many nights I wake up in the early morning hours, my mind racing with all the things . . . things that need to be taken care, questions about the present, the future, finances, decisions to worries about things that seem small in the daylight hours but huge in the darkest hours of the night . . .
I’ve always been a worrier. I can recall being five years old and laying in bed and worrying over both the most insignificant and sometimes, significant, to my young mind, things. My worries are no respecter of the actual legitimacy of the problem. But as I was reading these scriptures, I was, once again, reminded that it’s not our right, our privilege, or our job to worry.
The first verse of Psalm 127 tell us that “unless the Lord builds the house . . . unless the Lord guards the city . . .” then all of our worrying, our watching, our anxious thoughts are “in vain”. But it’s verse two that really caught my attention as I was reading the other morning, “It is vain” . . .
- Vain – 1: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements : conceited 2: marked by futility or ineffectualness : unsuccessful, useless vain efforts to escape 3: having no real value : idle, worthlessvain pretensions 4 archaic: foolish, silly – (Merriam-Webster dictionary)
All of these definitions fit the bill for verses 1-2, but when I read those words “It is vain . . .” I was struck by the pride and conceit encompassed in the action of letting anxiety rule in our lives, in my life. Ultimately, it’s a control and trust issue, and it says to God that I think I know better, and I think I can maintain control of a situation by worrying rather than rolling it off onto Him. And bottom line? It’s a sin.
The Bible tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV) That’s not a suggestion. It’s a command. “Be anxious for nothing . . .” As someone who has always been prone to anxiety, sometimes mild and other times so fierce it’s almost debilitating, I do not take those words lightly. I know how hard, almost impossible, it is to set anxiety aside, but if the Bible says to do it, then I have no doubt God has infused me with the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to follow through. That’s not to say the feelings don’t come. They do. This week alone, my sleep has been interrupted repeatedly in the early morning hours, and in those moments I have a choice to make. I can pray, or I can worry. I can seek God, or I can be gripped by anxiety. I can “eat the bread of sorrows” or as the Amplified puts it “eat the bread of [anxious] toil”, or I can let God give “His beloved sleep”. The world may tell us, it’s not a choice, but it absolutely is a choice. It may not be an easy choice, and I’ll readily admit that this is a work in progress in my own life. I daily have to decide how I’m going to respond to all the things that could cause me to worry. I have to make the choice to give my worries, my fears, my anxieties to God and leave them there, and some days I’m better at that than others. But it’s a battle that I will continue to fight because the idea that I am in control or exert some sort of control by worrying is nothing more than illusion.
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