"Help, I'm restless!"

We are needy people before a God who meets us in our struggles.
It's okay to ask for help in our restlessness.

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Handling Restlessness.

God meets us in our situations and internal heart struggles.

From the Bible:

A song of ascents. Of David.

”My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.”

— Psalm 131

Steps for handling restlessness:

Where in your life do you feel noisy inside? Where are you busy, preoccupied and unable to see others around you? Where do you feel swamped by to-do lists? Where do you feel the gap between what you’re aiming for and where you actually are? Where does this anti-Psalm 131 resonate in your life?

“Self, my heart is proud (I’m absorbed in myself), and my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people), and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.

“So of course I’m noisy and restless inside, it comes naturally, like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap, like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries. I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.”

— David Powlison

When we feel restless we turn to particular things to make us feel better. Learn to spot the signs. Typically we go to things that numb the pain. We have patterns of false refuge. Binging on Netflix. Consoling ourselves with food – chocolate, junk food or just eating too much. Often they’re things we go to to celebrate when life’s good or to numb the pain when it’s not. What are those things for you?

It’s very helpful to be able to step back and say, “Aha, there’s a red light on the dashboard! I’m restless inside.

When you read Psalm 131 
you get the sense David knows 
what it’s like to be restless. But he’s come out the other side with a smaller view of himself. He’s content with his limitations and places his hope in God.

Are there desires that have hijacked your heart? Are there things you’re wanting and not getting? Are you trying to do more than God expects of you?
David learnt to reign in his pride. Not to do what’s beyond him – even Israel’s king. God had weaned David’s soul. He learned contentment instead of fussing.

Live in Psalm 131. Memorise it. Consider how it captures the heart of Jesus who lived in this troubled world and yet was not restless and fussing. He rescues us from our restless hearts and becomes our pattern and model for living.

Pick one area of your life where you’re prone to restlessness. What would it look like for you take small steps of faith when restlessness hits?

Your Father knows your restless heart. Tell him what you’re wanting and not getting. Tell him how it feels. Tell him about where you’re trying to do more than what he expects of you. Ask him to wean your desires and teach you contentment. Ask him to help you accept the limitations he’s placed you under in this season of life. Ask him to be your source of hope.

Created in June 2019 by Jeremy Ward based on David Powlison’s,‘”Peace, Be Still”: Learning Psalm 131 by Heart’

Jeremy works as a Pastoral Counsellor at The Joshua Tree and Ashfield Presbyterian Church.

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Jeremy is available to help process an experience of restlessness that you might be experiencing. During COVID-19 he's available to speak on the phone and online via video. He can be reached on 0417 062 919 or at jeremy@thejoshuatree.com.au.

If you would like to explore further resources we wholeheartedly recommond David Powlison's mini book, 'Stressed Out: Becoming Peaceful on the Inside' ($6.99 on Kindle). We also recommend a series of conference talks on anxiety available for purchase from CCEF (links below).