When my thoughts were bitter
and my feelings were hurt,
I was as stupid as an animal;
I did not understand you.
Yet I always stay close to you,
and you hold me by the hand.
You guide me with your instruction
and at the end you will receive me with honor.
What else do I have in heaven but you?
Since I have you, what else could I want on earth?
My mind and my body may grow weak,
but God is my strength;
he is all I ever need.
Those who abandon you will certainly perish;
you will destroy those who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, how wonderful to be near God,
to find protection with the Sovereign Lord
and to proclaim all that he has done! (Good News Translation)
Sometimes we put our foot in our mouth. We know how it feels saying rash words that we later regret. And we also know what it feels like to get dumped on by another who has some choice words for us.
The psalmist, Asaph, records an encounter with God. Asaph was upset. He gave God a piece of his mind. Then later, after reflecting on the experience, Asaph admitted that his soul was embittered and let his base nature take over.
The human brain is a complicated organ. We process information in different parts of the brain. The neo-cortex (the rational part of the brain) allows us to engage in logical analysis and complex decision making.
Another part, the limbic system (sometimes referred to as the “reptilian brain”) processes information very quickly, largely by instinct. When we become scared, surprised, upset, or angry, adrenaline gets pumped into our limbic system so that we can quickly react to the perceived threat, danger, or injustice.
Having our brains flooded with adrenaline when there is real danger is necessary. There are life-threatening circumstances in which we need that quick response. Yet, if our brains remain on high alert and are continually fearful and upset, even when there is no real problem, we don’t calm down, and the result is less than stellar behavior.
So, what is the answer to this situation? Asaph said God holds his right hand and guides him with wise counsel. Being near to God brings the brain chemistry to appropriate levels so that we can relax and trust.
God is with us always in the person of the Holy Spirit. There is never a time, place, or situation where God is absent. As we learn to rely on God’s presence, and remind ourselves of it on a daily basis, we can restore more rational thoughts to our lives. We can live knowing God is in control and continually vigilant to watch over us.
Gracious God, I have no one in my life like you. My flesh and my heart may fail, my brain might become overwhelmed with irrational fears, but you are my strength and the Rock of my salvation. Thank you for your continual provision and help each day through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.