Craig Groeschel - When You Feel Anxious, Alone, and Afraid
Well it's great to gather together today with all of you from all over the world. I'd love to welcome you to Life.Church today. It's probably a little bit obvious that we're doing something different because of social distancing, we're not gathering physically but the good news is we can gather digitally with people all over the world. So for those of you in our Life.Church family, we welcome you. If you're new to worshiping with us we welcome you as well. Today I am in an almost completely empty room. You'll notice that there's virtually nobody here but I am not alone because I do have my bride, Amy, with me and my son, Sam. Can you give me a little shout out?
All right, there you go, there you go. Thank you, 'cause I need all the help that I can get. And you may even notice that the cameras we have are robotic. For example, there's no real camera operator physically in this room. Like hello camera person, are you feeling like you wanna have fun today? You wanna go a little bit crazy with me? There you go, your kinda like up in my business right now. You're pretty, pretty close. It's interesting today, just to kind of look around and if you're anything like I am, you may feel a little bit emotionally disoriented. It should be obvious, but all of the normal rhythms and routines in our life have been really incredibly disrupted.
And you probably noticed, but it seems everywhere you go there's tension in the air. Events are canceled, the grocery store aisles seem really, really full of people but empty of food. Maybe you've got your kids at home with you for the first time in a long time. And at first you thought this is gonna be really good, but sometimes your kids are getting on your nerves and you think, "Maybe I can trade this one for some hand sanitizer". I don't know, life is not normal in any sense of the term. Unfortunately we know that so many people today around the world have lost a lot of their retirement, as the stock market has continued to be so turbulent. And businesses are closing and we're facing incredible global economic concerns.
Honestly, many of you may be in a very, very difficult spot. Some of you are sick, perhaps very sick. Some of you are worried about loved ones. Many of you perhaps are working less hours than you would like, or you had a job that you loved and you don't have that job anymore. There's so much pain, so much uncertainty. The bills might be mounting, your marriage might be struggling. And because of everything that we're going through today, I've titled this message, When You Feel Anxious, Alone, and Afraid. This message is for anyone who may feel some anxiety. You feel alone or you're consumed with fear. If you don't mind before we look today at God's word, I'd love it if you would just join me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for who you are. And God we pray that your living word would touch hearts all over the world today. God, for those who might find it more difficult to trust in you, we pray that by the power of your spirit and the truth of your word, God, that you might teach us to put all of our hope and all of our trust in you. We pray this in Jesus name, and wherever you are would you just say it out loud, say amen, amen.
Or you can type it in the comment section if you're watching online. I saw an online conversation this week, I don't know how many of you have been like way more consumed online, but I saw a conversation between a single mom and someone else who is trying to help this single mom. And the single mom was talking very openly and said that she had lost her job and was feeling so stressed out. And the other person, who obviously was a disciple of Jesus was trying to encourage the single mom. And the other person said, "Just trust in the Lord. Just trust in God, just trust in the Lord". And the single mom kinda talked back and said, "I'm trying to, I'm trying to trust in God. How do I do it? Like how do I do it when there's no paycheck? How do I do it when I have bills to pay? How do I do it when I have children at home? I just don't know how I'm supposed to trust in God".
I really felt for this single mom because it's so much easier to tell somebody else, "You trust in God", then it is to trust in God yourself. It's kinda like the difference between a minor surgery and a major surgery. What's the difference between a minor surgery and a major surgery? A minor surgery is whatever surgery you're having, right. If you're having it it's, "Ah, not that big of a deal. It's a common surgery". But the moment that I have one, it becomes a major surgery. That's a little bit what it's like trying to trust God.
It's really easy to tell somebody else, "Hey, just trust in the Lord". But when you don't have a paycheck, or when you're battling depression, or when you feel all alone, or when you feel like everything that you thought was stable, now is unstable. How, like practically, how do you trust in God at that moment? How do you trust God when your marriage feels so fragile? How do you trust God when your kids are rebelling? How do you trust God when someone that you love, that's vulnerable is very, very sick? How do you trust God when your job is unstable or you got downsized out of your company? How do you trust God when you spent years, maybe decades trying to save for retirement and a third of it is gone in a matter of a few weeks? How do you trust God when you're so concerned about what's gonna happen in the future?
One person said, "How do you trust God when you run outta toilet paper"? I think it's kinda funny. A lot of people aren't shaking hands because of the coronavirus, which is wise. Be wise, use your brain. A lot of people aren't shaking hands because of the coronavirus. I'm also not shaking hands because people are outta toilet paper everywhere. That's funny. There's nobody here to laugh, but that's funny. It's also wise. Be wise in how you live. Any time life is painful, and it is right now for so many people, any time I feel anxious, any time I feel alone, any time I feel afraid what I do personally is I spend a lot of time reading the Scripture, especially I read in the book of Psalms. There's something about reading God's truth, his comforting words in the book of Psalms that just brings solace to my wearied soul.
What I wanna do today is, I wanna show you a few different portions from the book of Psalms. That's the only place we're really gonna focus on today that I pray will help you to very practically and spiritually learn to trust in God. How do we trust in the Lord? I'll start with the words of David in Psalm 9:9-10, and David says this, I hope this builds your faith, he says, "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed". If you feel hurting, if you feel alone, if you feel oppressed, the Lord is a refuge for you. David says, "He's a stronghold in times of trouble". Then Scripture says this, "Those God who know your name trust in you, those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you".
Those who know your name trust you, which makes sense because your probably not gonna trust somebody that you don't know. If you don't know their name, you're probably not likely to trust them. Those who know your name trust you, the question is what's God's name? What do you call God? What's God's name? I heard a comedian say, the guy said, "I was 23 years old when I realized God's last name didn't start with the letter, D and rhyme with slam it". That's not God's last name. What is God's name? What do you call God? Those who know his name trust in the Lord, what do you call God? Why does this matter?
Well, what you call someone really, really matters because what you call someone tells us a lot about the relationship. The name which you use often reveals the depth or the intimacy of the relationship. What we call someone tells us so much about the relationship. For example, my best friend, my bride, Amy is here and I call her my lovemuffin. I call her bear. I call her peanuggle, and there is a story behind that. I of course call her my bride. And I call her a bunch of other names that I'm not gonna tell you what they are and no one else is ever allowed to call her those things. Those are our names because of our intimate relationship that we have together.
What you call someone tells you so much about the relationship. For example, what you call me might determine just how well we know each other. In other words if you call me Greg Groeschel that probably means you read my name somewhere and you're a telemarketer just trying to get me to buy something. You don't know me, you can't even say my name right. If you say on the other hand, you're Pastor Craig, that means you know at least something about me. Maybe you're a member of our church, maybe this is your church family, maybe you've read a book that I've written or at least you know what I do for a living.
You might say, Pastor Craig, that reflects the reality that at some level you know who I am. Some people call me boss, those would be some of the people nearby me that work for me. Others call me, Craig. In other words if you call me Craig, then chances are perhaps we might be pretty good friends. It's more informal, and we've probably known each other for quite some period of time.
There are a few people though that call me Groesch. You probably don't call me Groesch. Anybody that calls me Groesch is someone I've been friends with for at least three decades. Chances are, and I probably shouldn't say this, but chances are if you call me Groesch, we probably got drunk together. That's right, before I was a Christian when I partied my brains out, my party buddies, my fraternity brothers, my teammates, they called me Groesch. And that reflects the fact that we've been friends for decades upon decades because nobody since then calls me Groesch.
There are a few people, six to be exact, who call me daddy. One of them is with us in this service and that name reflects the intimacy that we have. What that means is I've told you hundreds of bedtime stories, we've taken vacations together and I've hugged you more than just about anybody alive on this planet besides my wife. What you call someone tells you so much about the relationship. What you call God reflects the intimacy of your relationship with God. It shows us how well you know him.
What do you call God? A lot of people may call God, the big guy in the sky, or the man upstairs. If that's what you call God, chances are you really probably don't know him very well. Because what you call someone reflects the depth of the relationship. Jesus, he actually called God, Abba, which is Aramaic for daddy, like father, daddy, papa, Jesus called him father, daddy. That reflected the intimacy of their relationship. What we call God reflects our relationship with God, how well we know him. David said this, I wanna look at it again.
In Psalm 9:10 David said to God, "Those who know your name trust in you". How do you grow in your trust to God? You get to know his name. You get to know his character. What's his name? Well, I told you I spent a lot of time reading Psalms and as I did I was overwhelmed how often David or a psalmist would say this about God, "You are", and then list an attribute. You are something, a quality, a metaphor, a characteristic, a title, a name. God, you are something. And what I wanna do is I wanna help you know some of the names of God, the metaphors of God, the titles of God, the attributes of God so you can get to know God because when you know his name, you'll better trust his heart, his character. Who is God?
Let me tell you who God is. From Psalm 22:19, one of David's prophetic psalms, he said this of God, he said, "But you, Lord, do not be far from me". And then he said, "You are", here's what David said, he said, "you are God, you are my strength, come quickly to help me". Who are you God? You are my strength. Paul said in the New Testament that whenever you're weak, whenever you don't have enough strength on your own, whenever you're vulnerable, whenever you're hurting, Paul said whenever you're weak God's strength is made perfect in you. In other words, every time you have a weakness, you also have an opportunity to experience God's strength, God's power, and God's presence.
I feel like I'm speaking to somebody right now. You're hurting, you're overwhelmed, you feel like there's just too much. "I don't know if I can make it another day. The news just continues to mount. I don't know how we're gonna make it". Give God your weakness. When you give him your weakness, he will give you his strength. Who is God? You are my strength.
For example, I enjoy working out occasionally. I have a workout partner, his nickname is Pacco. I call him Pacco, he calls me Pacco. Why do we both call each other, Pacco? I don't know, but my thing is they're not a good friend if they don't have a nickname. Pacco and I were doing chest one day and we were doing bench press, and it was at the end of our workout. We did kinda a burnout, 225 pounds on both sides and we did four sets of 12. That's a lot at the end of the workout. We were totally exhausted. At the very end we did this thing, if you saw it, you would laugh. It looked stupid, it looks ridiculous but it's effective. We took just the bar, which is only 45 pounds and we took the bar and our goal was to do it 50 reps or more until we completely burned out.
This looks so stupid, you got these guys in the gym just pushing away on those, just that little bar, nothing else. It's really easy for the first 10, really easy for the first 15. About 25 or 30 though, something happens and all of a sudden your like, you get a little, these things they just, they're fire. I mean fire. And I was going, pushing as hard as I completely could and I got down to the end and John was just yelling at me, Pacco going, "Come on, Groeschel, come on, Groeshcel. Come on, Pacco, there's more in you". And he would help me get up a few more and just go a few more, and finally I just got to, I was completely shaking down the end of my strength and he was helping me and I just let go. He didn't even notice that I let go. He was still just spotting me going, "Come on, there's more in you, there's more in you, there's more in you".
And I let him do about seven or eight reps until I couldn't contain my laughter. I completely let go and there was Pacco, just helping me go one after another. This may be where you are. You get to the end of your strength, you have nothing left. You feel like you can't go on for another day. Here's the good news. Who is God? He is your strength. In your weakness, in your vulnerability, in your brokenness his strength is made perfect. When you can't give another rep, his power steps in. He is your strength. Who is God? God is your strength. Those who know his name trust in him. God, you are my strength.
David also said this in another Psalm, Psalm 31:5, David said, "I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord, for who are you"? He said, "You are, God, you are a faithful God". God, you are a faithful God. You are always faithful. The problem is, there are very few things in life that will always be faithful. People, you know it, they're gonna let you down. Circumstances continue to disappoint. The economy may be up, the economy may be down. There are times when you're even gonna let yourself down. The good news is though, and the Apostle Paul told us this in the New Testament, that even when we, when even when we are faithless, God is faithful. Because he can never disown himself. Who is God? You are faithful, God. I don't know about you, but I've let God down time and time again. I've failed God too many times to count. But his faithfulness has never failed me once. Who is God? He is a faithful God, his word is true. He is always faithful in every single way.
Do you know God, the names of God? Who is God? Scripture says, "God, you are my strength. You, God, are always faithful". David says in another Psalm, how good is this, Psalm 65:5. He says, "You, God, faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior". He said this, "God, you are, who are you? You are the hope of everyone on earth. Even those who sail on distant seas". God, who are you? You are my hope, I put my hope in you. In other words, our hope is not in a person, or in a leader, or in a government, or in a system, or even in medicine. Our hope is in an all powerful, ever present, all-knowing God who spoke and created the very universe. Our hope is in God.
In fact, Isaiah said in the Old Testament, "Those whose hope is in the Lord, he will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint". My hope is in you. Those who know God's name, those who know him intimately, those who trust in him, you can put your faith in God. God, who are you? Who are you? Scripture says, God you are my strength. God, you are always faithful. God, when everything else seems hopeless, you, God, are always my hope. The psalmist told us other characteristics or qualities of God. This may be my favorite, Psalm 75:1 says, "We thank you, O God. We give thanks to you because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds". I'm thankful for a God who's always near.
James says in the New Testament that whenever you draw near to God, every time, anytime you're hurting, anytime you're afraid, anytime you feel unsettled or unsure, anytime, every time you draw near to God, he always draws near to you. God is not afar off, distant, uninvolved God. He is a loving, caring, compassionate God who is always near. And he will never leave you, and he will never forsake you. That's my God. My God is always with me. My God is always comforting me. My God is always strengthening me. My God is always my hope. My God is always near. What do you call God? What you call him reflects how well you know him. And those who know his name, they trust in his character and his nature.
David also said this in Psalm 86:5. Who is God? He said this, "O, Lord, you are so good". If I could get you to say that aloud, oh I would get you to say it loud. God is so good. He's also, "So ready to forgive, and he's so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help". Who is God? You are so good, and so ready to forgive. And so full of unfailing love for all those who ask for your help. I love this. God isn't just good, he's so good, he's so, so good. And Jesus even said this, he said, "Even those of you who are unrighteous, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Heavenly Father, who is good give good gifts to those that he loves".
God is good, he's always good. We say it this way, that God is good all the time. And all the time, God is good. He's always good. I did a funeral years ago for a gentleman that left five kids behind. This guy was in his mid-40s, way, way, way too young. Our little church at the time was completely, just devastated. How could this happen? What are we gonna do? I was a young pastor and didn't really know like how do you start a funeral when a 40-something year old dad leaves a widow and five children? We always started the service by saying God is good. And so I just walked out to this group of people, grieving people and just by faith I said, "We always declare, God is good". And at that moment you could just feel the emotion released in the room as this small group of hurting people declared in that moment of grieving, "All the time". All the time, God is good.
God is good, listen, when the economy's strong. And God is good, when the economy looks broken. God is good when you have a job. And God is still good when you don't. God is good when you're healthy. And God is still good, and he's still faithful if you're not. He's not just good, he's so good. And I want you to know the goodness of God. Who is God? He's so good. God isn't just ready to forgive, but Scripture says he's so ready, he's so ready. Which is really good news for some of us who've done something stupid recently. Those of you who used to go to church and you'd get in a fight on the way there like, "Shut up kids, we're gonna go worship God". Well, at least you don't have that now. Except for my friend who said he was ready for Life.Church online and got in a big fight with his wife because his kids wouldn't come in there.
"Get in here now, we're gonna worship God. Get in here for church online"! If you've done something like that, if you've let yourself down, God down, if you've done something much worse and you feel the weight of your sin, scripture teaches us that if we confess our sins, our God is faithful and just to forgive us of all of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God isn't just ready to forgive. He's so ready. And God is not just loving, he's so loving. Love isn't just something that he does, it's who he is. It's his nature and there's nothing that you can do to get him to love you more. And there's nothing you could do to cause him to love you less. He just loves because that's who he is.
What do you call God? God, you're my strength. God, you're always faithful. God, you're my hope. You're always near. You are so good. You're so ready to forgive. You are so loving. What do you call God? Because what you call him reflects what you know about him. The last Psalm we're gonna look at today, actually is the last you are psalms in all of the psalms, the very last one. And David says this in Psalm 118:28-29, he says this, who are you? He says about God, "You are my God. You are my God, and because you are my God, I will praise you. You are my God, I will exalt you and give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His faithful love endures forever".
You are my God. Can you say that about God? Growing up I thought God was my God, he wasn't my God. He was my pastor's God, but he wasn't my God. He was my grandmother's God, but he wasn't my God. I went to college and maybe like many of you, I got kinda wild. You could say I was majoring in sinning. I'll say it this way, I was building my testimony, that's what I was doing. I was building my testimony and my life completely fell apart. I found myself addicted to alcohol, tried to stop and passed out one night with my head hanging over the edge of a very busy road. I got caught shoplifting. My fraternity I was in, we committed, four guys committed grand larceny. They were gonna shut us down. And I got so, so low, so desperate, so anxious, so alone, and so afraid.
So I tried to pray but I realized I was praying to a God I did not know. And a gentleman from an organization known as the Gideons gave me a little green Bible. And I started to read it, and suddenly God was not a distant far off God that someone else knew, but I started to call on him for myself. And he changed me. He loved me. He became my God. Do you feel anxious today? Are you hurting? Do you feel afraid? Call out on God as if he were your God. Call out on him, cry to him. If you're hurting today, just tell him you're hurting. If you're mad, unload on him, I promise you he can handle it. I am convinced that God would rather you yell at him than to walk away. If you're in a relationship, he's your God, just tell him what's on your heart. If you're afraid, cry out. Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.
How do you trust in God, like how do you do it when everything seems so unstable? How do you trust in him when you feel alone, when you feel anxious and afraid? Those who know his name find it easier to trust his heart. What we call someone tells us so much about the relationship. What we call God, tells us what we believe about God. What do you call God? When you get to know him, when you get to know him, the moment that you feel weak you say, "God, you are my strength". When we feel the world is unstable we say, "God, you are always faithful". Whenever you feel anxious, unsure, or afraid you say, "You are my hope". When you feel isolated, or alone, or hurting you say, "God you are always near, you will never leave me, you will never forsake me".
When you mess up, when you fail, when you fall short, when you hurt others, when you sin against God, God is not just good, he's so good. He's not just ready to forgive, he's so ready to forgive. He's not just love, he's so full of unfailing love for anyone who calls on him. Because God is love, he sent his son Jesus to give his life, to reveal his heart. God didn't just shout his love from Heaven, but he showed his love on earth. And what if in the middle of the time where you're hurting and feel so low, it's time for you to look up and not talk to the big guy in the sky, but talk to a faithful, and loving, and forgiving God who is near. Because if you know him like that, he's not someone else's God, but you can say, "He's my God". because those who trust in him, those who know his name they trust his heart.
Father, today we ask that for people all over the world that we would know you in a more intimate way so we could trust in you.
Wherever you are today, if you're hurting, you're afraid and you say, "Yes, I am a believer but I want to trust God more intimately". You may just slip up your hand, you can just kinda click right below, you can just comment in the comments, or you can just tell God, "That's me". And I wanna pray for you.
God, I just pray that something from your word would stick to our hearts. One of your unfailing attributes, your goodness, your faithfulness, your presence, your grace, God, help us to know you more intimately so we could trust you even more completely. God, for so many who are hurting, may they find peace in your presence. A peace that goes beyond our human ability to understand.
As you keep praying today I realize that there are those of you watching and maybe this isn't something normal for you, but we're not in a normal time. And you recognize you need something different. Maybe the very thing you need is not security in this world, but maybe you need a spiritual security. Who is Jesus? He is the son of God, he was perfect in every way. He shed innocent blood on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He gave his life and our God who is always faithful raised him from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, who calls on that name that is above every name, your sins would be forgiven and you would be completely new.
God's not just good, he's so good. He's not just ready to forgive you, he's so ready to forgive you. He's not just loving, he's so loving. And he's loving you at this moment. Wherever you're watching, those of you who recognize, "He maybe somebody else's God, but he's not yet my God. And I want him to be my God, I want to know him today".
All we're gonna do is turn away from our old life, we're gonna turn away from our sins and we're gonna call on his name, the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus and when you call on that name our God will hear your prayer. And he'll forgive your sins. And in a moment all of the past is gone and everything will become new, because that's just how good our God is. All over the world those who say, "Yes, I need Jesus, I turn to him, I give my life to him"., just lift your hands now. You can click below me, you can comment in the side, or wherever you are you can just pray this simple prayer. Just from the heart, just pray and get to know the goodness of God. Just pray wherever you are.
Heavenly Father, please forgive my sins. Jesus, I put my trust in you. Would you be my savior? I wanna know your goodness, your grace, and your love. Fill me with your spirit so I can trust in you, so I can live for you. So I can be a faith spreader, a love giver, and a hope dealer reflecting your love everywhere I go. I trust in you. In Jesus' name I pray.