Monday, February 23, 2015
When Times Are Tough, Thank God
In review of Philippians 4:4 it says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”
Always be full of joy and rejoice in the Lord
What this means to me:
The sum total of my life should be characterized by the Joy that comes from my relationship with God. I should rejoice always whether things are good or bad.
When the Apostle Paul says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord,” He’s not only saying to be joyful in good times, because that’s easy. I need to have joy even when things are tough. I can do his by following this simple strategy:
First, I shouldn't worry about anything. Worrying does not really change anything. It only equates to stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. I learned it from those around me and from experience. What’s good is that means it can also be unlearned.
So in order to unlearn it I can look to what Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NIV). He’s saying don’t open your umbrella until it starts raining. Live one day at a time.
Secondly, I can then pray about everything. Instead of worrying, use that time for praying. If I prayed as much as I worried, I’d have a lot less to worry about. Is God interested in paying my bills and meeting my financial obligations? Sure he is. He’s interested in every detail of my life. That means I can take any problem I face to God.
Thirdly, I need to display and feel gratitude. To do so, I need to remember to thank God in all things. When I pray about things, pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but rather gratitude. It can actually increases my immunities. It can make me more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are always happy. On the flip side, people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So learning to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, will reduce stress in life.
Lastly, I should think about the right things. In order to reduce the level of stress in life, I need to change the way I think, because the way I think determines how I feel. And the way I feel determines how I’ll act. The Bible teaches that, if I want to change my life, I need to change what I’m thinking about. This will involve a deliberate, conscious choice where I choose to think about the right things. I need to choose to think on the positive and on God’s Word.
Paul promises this great result I can learn to do these. He says I’ll then “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NLT).
As I reflect this morning on what I worry about, it tends to be around work related items. I really need to engage God in my thoughts on these and pray for his guidance and insight. Instead of being concerned about things, I should turn those into prayers of request. I’m sure when I do, the stress level with be greatly reduced. Afterwards, I should thank God for what I have, knowing that he has my best interest at heart. I should thank him, even when I don’t readily understand what’s going on or what he’s up to in this situation.
In regards to what I think about most, I find myself either thinking about work and all the things that need to be done for our upcoming move and all the things and factors that need to be considered. In thinking about what God would want on my mind, it should be Kingdom things and helping others. I believe I need to avoid putting my life on hold while I wait for our upcoming move. Rather I should work diligently knowing what I need to do. Obviously, what I’m doing and what I should be doing are not in alignment. However as I convert more of my worries and concerns into prayers, I can have the time to concentration on Kingdom priorities. Ultimately I need to remember be joyful and thank God always not matter what’s taking place.
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