The Best Kind of Tranqulizer

man with insomnia

Stress, turmoil, anxiety, worry, tension, uncertainty, pressures, hassles, revenge, lawsuits, bankruptcy, crime, assault, disease, accidents, anger, tragedy, violence, suffering—the list goes on and on. At various times, there will be upsets in our life that will leave us sleepless. It might be a major ordeal or maybe just a minor event. Whether we are young or old, married or single, rich or poor, weak or strong—something will bring us to a point of being disturbed and restless. Even if we are extra cautious, watching our every thought and move, a situation is sure to come our way that will not let us sleep in peace. There will be times when we are totally innocent, minding our own business and doing what is right, and we still end up in the wrong. We might find ourselves in error over something that we had no control over, or we might happen to be in the wrong place at the right time.

It may feel like we are the only ones going though a particular problem. There was a man who lived thousands of years before us who had to struggle like this as well. In the Bible, King David of Israel was a person whom God declared to be a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22b). David was a mighty man who killed a lion and a bear at the same time when he was rescuing a lamb from the mouth of a bear. Later, with only a stone and a slingshot, he slayed a giant that had been threatening his nation for quite some time. And all of this occurred when he was only a young man! He later killed tens of thousands of enemies of his kingdom, yet, in spite of all his strength and his favor with God, he still went though struggles that would keep any of us today agonizingly awake for a multitude of nights.

What did he ultimately do about his troubles that robbed him of sleep? Did he flee, never to be found again? Was he discovered attempting to take his own life? Did he give up and just surrender to the enemy? Did he go insane? Did he personally take vengeance on those who were against him? Did he relegate his problems and torments to someone else in his kingdom and order them to come up with a solution? No, he did none of these. Instead, he turned to God. Look at what he said in verses three through five of the fourth Psalm, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” King David knew by past experience that God would hear him when he called out to Him. But he also knew that he could not continue in the path of sin and still expect God to readily hear him. He had to surrender to God, forsake his sin, and put his trust in the Lord—then wait on Him. He knew that God would provide for His circumstances in a way far greater than those who were against him.

So what happened? Verse eight sums it up nicely: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” He didn’t lie awake all night agonizing over everything that was coming against him. Instead he declared, “…thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” What better sleep aid could anyone ask for? David turned to the Lord and put his trust in Him. He did not pursue the matter in his own strength any further. David stated this again in the first two verses of Psalm twenty three: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”Still waters” here literally means ‘waters of rest.’

young girl praying

What a wonderful antidote to the situations that torment us throughout the night! All that we have to do is come before the Lord with all our distress and release it to Him. We need to stop sinning through doubt and unbelief, and trust in Him to resolve the conflict. He continually waits for our most feeble cry. He wants us to lie down in peace and sleep. But without God, we will never “dwell in safety.” He told us to “…commune with your own heart upon your bed…” With our own heart we are to commune with whom—our spouse, our relatives, our neighbor, our closest friends? Of course not! We are to commune with the Lord. Next comes “and be still.” Don’t drop your problems in His lap and go on your way. Spend your time with Him in intimate fellowship, reading His Word, and then—just be still. Don’t fill your mind with all kinds of trivial nonsense and needless thoughts, just “be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10a). God never wants us to lie awake and be restless, our hearts and minds filled with worry or stress. Let’s open our hearts freely to Him like a child does and let Him lead us by the waters of rest. With the Lord in charge of our life, we can truly sleep in peace—for He alone is the best kind of tranquilizer.

Seeing the Whole City

city skyline in daytime

Suppose you live in a very large city, and friends you haven’t seen for many years come to visit for a short time. After you all chat a while, they say that they want to “see your city.” Naturally, you are eager to oblige. You get everyone in your vehicle and proceed to show them the city. You drive to the waterfront first, telling highlights of various buildings of importance along the way. Then you head up a large hill to the north side where they can see the city’s skyline. You mention additional points of interest visible from there. Next you go into the heart of downtown. You let them wander around a bit to look at various shops, landmarks, and parks the city has to offer. Then you shuttle them to the tourist section on the east side. Everyone, including you, is exhausted after this tour. You finish off the day by stopping for dinner at a well-known restaurant on the way home.

city skyline night panorama

During the meal, you ask if your guests enjoyed seeing the city. They agree that what they have seen is very nice and interesting, but then they say they would still like to “see the city.” Even though this reply puzzles you, you take them out again the following day to “see the city.” You escort your friends to the subway station early the next morning to take them all around the city. You take the blue line, the green line, the yellow line, wherever the subway lines go—that’s where you all end up going. After nearly getting lost three times, you all finally arrive back home in late afternoon. During the meal that evening, you casually inquire again if they feel that they have now “seen the city.” To your surprise, they conclude that everything that you have shown them has been wonderful and they are very grateful for your efforts. But, they still would like to “see the whole city.” After a long sigh, you reluctantly agree to do your best once more to show them “the whole city” before they return home.

Now you are really stumped for a solution to fulfill their request. You have done all you could to “show them the city”; what else could you possibly do to satisfy their request? The next day you contact friends in the city for advice, but they are as clueless as you are for a solution. Late that night, as you are just about to fall asleep, the perfect answer finally strikes you. The next morning, after everyone has eaten breakfast, you announce that you know a way that just might fulfill their desire to “see the whole city.” After a few phone calls, everyone gets into your vehicle again and you head to a small airport just outside city limits. There you meet up with an old friend who does aerial photography. He gladly agrees to take you and your friends up to “see the whole city.” After pointing out all the various places of interest in the city from the air, he brings everyone back down to the airport. Only a few moments after exiting the plane, your friends gleefully express their satisfaction. They all eagerly agree that they have really “seen all of the city” this time. They can now return home to tell everyone all about your city.

aerial view of sprawling city

How often have you felt that God is sometimes unfair and cruel is His actions toward you or others? When a tragedy, natural or manmade, strikes the lives of innocent individuals, do you question or blame God? Do you become confused or angry when the wicked prosper and those who do good fall into poverty or despair? How often do you face a problem that seems unsolvable or face a situation where you feel defeated before you even do anything?

Your confusion, anger, and despair all stem from the fact that you are coming to all of your conclusions based on a single area that you see of “the whole city” (or situation). As a result, you wonder why God allowed these things to happen, as if He can only see this one area too. But, thankfully, God always sees the big picture or “the whole city.” While you only see one part at a time, God sees “the whole city” all of the time. When a circumstance occurs in your life or someone else’s, it is only a part of “the whole city.” If you were to go up in the air and look down over the city like your friends did, then you would see just how your problem or area of the city connects with all of the rest of it. You would also be able to see just how small your problem really is from God’s point of view.

city block at street level

You may be wondering by now why you cannot see “the whole city” like God sees it. It is because you, in your finite physical body, could not handle such a view. You would be overwhelmed beyond despair. Our loving Heavenly Father knows these limitations and spares you from things beyond your current comprehension or physical ability. He has no intention of harming you by placing you in an area beyond your capability.

Instead, you are to trust in Him. When you feel overwhelmed by the situation that surrounds you, just put your concern and despair into His hands. Let Him take care of it.

When you don’t understand why things turned out the way that they did, just remember that He sees “the whole city,” the big picture, and the connection these things have to everything else that you cannot see.

When He chooses to move you to another area “of the city” or expand your existing area, don’t resist or rebel. Let Him do the work He desires for your life. Many trials and circumstances occur in your life because you thought you knew better and refused to allow Him to work in your life.

On the other hand, don’t feel limited to just seeing the small area you are in now. As you spend more and more time in His Word, and begin to grow in Him, don’t be afraid to ask Him to open your eyes to see more “of the city.” “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed [circled] the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17). Elisha’s servant could only see the small picture of the enemy that had them surrounded. This view looked hopeless. He could see no way of escape. But there was something in the bigger picture that the servant could not see. When God opened the servant’s eyes at Elisha’s request, he could then see a bigger portion of the picture. It contained a mountain “full of horses and chariots of fire,” a picture of something far greater than the limited one of a seemingly impossible situation.

panoramic view of city at twilight

Remember, God is not limited to only the view “of the city” that you see; He looks at “the whole city.” He knows what is going on everywhere at any given moment and how everything going on is connected to everything else. His hands are not tied. He is not helpless regarding what is happening in your area at any given moment. He sees the big picture and He has a plan. He wants you to trust in His plan, regardless of how you see things now or later. Then you can say, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion” (Psalm 71:1).

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Anger Management

angry man

“That idiot! Why, I’ll run him into the trees!” Geoff exclaimed with violent passion. He eased his truck up closer and closer, until he was just a couple of inches from the car that had cut him off moments earlier. Eighty-five, ninety-five, one hundred—the speedometer kept climbing on Geoff’s truck as he attempted to pass the offending car in front of him. “That fool messed with me at a bad time, and the time’s ain’t gonna get no better for him,” Geoff relished with vengeful glee. “I’ll show him what it means to cut me off, the rotten…”

Suddenly, the other car swerved over to the shoulder of the highway, nearly clipping a nearby sedan, and almost crashing into the guardrail on the side. Geoff managed to pull over quickly onto the same shoulder in front of the other car. He was going to jam the truck into reverse, then floor the accelerator in an attempt to finish the car off.

His anger was not just getting the best of him; it had already gotten all of him.

After a quick look in the rearview mirror, Geoff realized he was too far away from the other car for the effort to be worth it. He pulled back out instead and took off down the highway again.

As his anger subsided, he began to feel smug about what he had just done. Later that evening, when he was just arriving at his friend’s place, he could hear uproarious laughter emanating from the open front window. “Yeah, Geoff in his truck was all over some guy on the highway today,” one of his friends belted out. “I saw the whole thing! All the guy did was pull in front of him a little too quick. You’d think Geoff was going to knock him into the trees, the way he came up fast behind that car! What a fool!” Another round of laughter filled the room.

Geoff decided not to go in after all. “What a fool I made of myself today,” he thought as he returned to his truck. “These anger sprees are going to get me locked up one of these days, and I don’t know what to do about it!”

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, a young lady was standing at her boss’ desk. “Julie, I know the man was wrong, but you can’t keep blowing up in anger at our customers,” her boss reprimanded her. “Three times before I put up with this, but this is the last time—you’re fired!”

Hurt and distraught, Julie left the office and slowly moved though the store to the exit, while all of her co-worker’s eyes were fixed upon her. “What can I do about this sudden anger?” she fretted to herself.

What can people like these two do about their anger? The Bible addresses this situation in Proverbs 14:29: “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” God’s view of quick and impulsive anger has always been negative. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). While it is not wrong to be angry at certain things on appropriate occasions, we can’t be quick to blow up in anger over every little thing that fails to please us.

statues of anger management

An “anger management” program is the most common solution recommended today. In severe cases, drugs may be prescribed. While the impulsive anger may become more controllable and even subside for a while by these methods, are they the real answer to the problem? For those who take the drug route, the drugs may very well remain a part of their life for the rest of their life. Is that the best solution? Like so many other problems today, has this really caused the anger problem to be eliminated? Just a brief review of the news today confirms that the problem has only been increasing.

Yet God had a solution, even before this problem began. It came through His Son, Jesus, as He hung on the cross. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [His spirit]” (John 19:30).

wooden cross

When Jesus said “finished,” all of the laws and requirements that God laid out in the Old Testament were fulfilled through His sacrifice of His life on the cross.

All the animal sacrifices, all the ceremonial procedures, and everything else God had set out in the law He gave to Moses, Jesus fulfilled. This doesn’t mean that the Law of Moses has been eliminated, but rather, that it is has now all been fulfilled through Jesus. He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17).

Our sin-desiring self—our “flesh”—has to die daily in Him. This may sound awful, but it is actually good news! If we will stop trying to control our flesh by ourselves and lay the situation upon Him, if we simply take our hands off of these problems or issues, and let Him take control, we will be overcomers. Problems like impulsive anger won’t control us anymore, because we have handed them off to Jesus. But when we stop letting Him work through us, and pick these problems up again, then they will control us.

Impulsive anger, lust, lying, stealing, etc., are all by-products of our rejection of the finished work of Jesus at the cross. If we won’t accept what He has done for us, why should He choose to work through us?

This is the reason why it is almost impossible to control or eliminate these kinds of problems like anger in our lives by ourselves. By the time these problems come to the surface, we have already crossed the point of no return. It’s like trying to stop ourselves from going over a waterfall when we are at the very edge of it, instead of searching for a solution upstream long before, where all the means were available. Sure, there are all kinds of help to keep us from going over, but the waterfall is still there, and we are still right at the edge. Instead of trying to just control impulsive anger, try seeking the Lord and establishing a real relationship with Him. We need to let Him control us, instead of trying to control ourselves by ourselves.