Well, it’s safe to say that a lot of us struggle with overthinking. So many people have commented or reached out regarding my post on 10 Bible verses on that topic. While it’s unfortunate so many people have that trouble, it’s always a comfort to know someone can relate to what you’re going through. We can work on it together.
When I say “overthinking,” I mean when anxieties and fears take over my mind, things that haven’t happened but might in the worst-case scenario. I almost think it helps me, like I’m preparing myself adequately if I think about all the bad things that could happen.
The other day, I read a story about King Saul, and something clicked. It’s 1 Samuel 13:1-15 (quotes are from the NIV). Basically, Saul is too quick to enjoy a small win against the Philistines. The Philistines recoup quickly and assemble soldiers “as numerous as sand on the seashore.”
The Israelites’ situation changed dramatically, fast. Saul went from what probably felt like a big victory, to a “what have I done?” moment. The priest Samuel lets them know he is coming in seven days, but on the seventh day, when he hasn’t arrived yet, the Israelites start to scatter.
So what does Saul do? He makes a burnt offering to God. No big deal, right? It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. But when Samuel comes, he calls out Saul for doing “a foolish thing,” and not keeping God’s commands. While it’s not clear what the foolish thing was, many of the regulations in the Old Testament required a priest to perform or take part in the offering. Could this be why God wasn’t pleased with Saul’s sacrifice? Perhaps it was his impatience in the waiting for Samuel. Deuteronomy 12:13, NIV also says, “Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.”
Whatever the problem was, at the end of the day, Saul loses the kingdom over his rash action and disobedience. God will choose someone “after his own heart” to lead his people.
What does all this have to do with overthinking? I know it usually starts with me feeling confident – enjoying a victory, maybe, or at least feeling good about the plan I have in place. Then things start going downhill. The problem gets bigger or more cloudy, and fear creeps in. The help God promises seems to be far off, or delayed. And then I take matters into my own hands.
The problem with overthinking is that there is no room for God in my crowded mind. The scriptures confirm this: “In his pride, the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts, there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4, NIV). When my focus is on the problem, I forget how God has come through for me in the past, and all of his promises that he has for me. Instead, I feel I have to solve it on my own, not necessarily doing things God’s way.
1 Peter 3:6, NIV cautions women against this in particular. We can be like Sarah in the Old Testament if we “do not give way to fear”. But how often do we let fear take over? I know I can become all mama-bear protective over my son even if the situation doesn’t call for it, or nag my husband if he hasn’t done what I asked him to do yet. I can enter a challenging situation, conflict or confrontation without seeking God or godly advice, and just go based on my own feelings or experience.
But God doesn’t want this path for us. He wants us to choose faith over fear, every time, because he wants to come through for us. He cares about the problems we go through, and already has found a solution to them, if we can trust him.
What’s the best way to keep fear from taking over? I love to get advice from godly people in my life. But the challenge for me is before even doing that, going to God in prayer and in the scriptures first.
2 Peter 1:3, NIV says that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” We don’t need to fear our scary situation; we have everything we need to handle it in a godly way. We can trust that God will see us through it, and that he has a plan.
Have you ever experienced taking matters into your own hands? How can you give way to faith and not fear?
Scriptures are quoted from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.