“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12 (ESV)
Everyone has junk in their lives – junk that threatens to drag us down. Maybe your marriage is on the rocks or your kid is on your nerves. Maybe you dread facing the job on Monday mornings. Maybe your finances are causing you worry, or your health, or someone else’s health… You name it. We all face difficulties.
But… have you ever noticed there are some people who just seem perpetually peppy? Life never gets them down. They are unflappable, despite circumstances. Their hair could be on fire and, after extinguishing the flames and bandaging the burns, they would say, “Oh well, I was going bald anyway.”
Then there are some of us who get worked up at the littlest things. Our nerves teeter on a knife’s edge. A simple request at the dinner table to please pass the asparagus could elicit an undeserved response such as, “Give me this! Give me that! You always want something from me!” (Of course, let’s be fair. It’s asparagus. Asparagus will put anyone in a foul mood.)
If you are finding yourself in a continual, repeated pattern of upset or anger or worry or anxiety or just feeling blue, consider this: maybe it is time for a priority adjustment. Maybe the job / career is too important to you. Maybe the discontent with your station in life is too strong. Maybe your trying to hard to please someone else. Maybe you need to stop trying to control every little facet of your life through micromanagement. Maybe you just need to relax and trust God.
I write these things because I’ve been there. I’ve had the time in my life when my wife didn’t know which husband she was going to get when I got home from work: the happy one or the one who was angry at the entire world. (Mind you, I never had the asparagus scenario play out at our dinner table. You’d never find the asparagus close enough to me to need to pass it.)
Listen, I am a human being. I struggle with perfectionism and acceptance. I goof up, make mistakes and kick myself for miles afterward. I worry too much, which causes me to think too little, which leads to anxiety which, when it goes unchecked, can be the on ramp to a very, very long trip.
I understand. I know. That’s why I write what I write. I don’t want you getting on that road.
I want you to be joyful. I want you to be peaceful. I want you to be happy.
Yes, I said happy. Don’t let anyone tell you happiness is a useless pursuit.
And, trust me, I understand all too well that sometimes the issues we face are the result of a brain that just doesn’t produce the serotonin it should, meaning one may need medicine. Not every malady is the result of Satan winning a battle against you. We live in an imperfect, fallen world. Accept that and stop giving the devil so much credit.
If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you have hope – not just for heaven but here and now. That doesn’t mean your circumstances will improve. They may. And they may not. What it does mean is that God will strengthen you for whatever you face, and whatever you face has not the last word. You have hope in Christ because, ultimately, you will be saved! It’s like the song says: sometimes the Lord calms the storm, and sometimes He calms His child.
This is why we need to be patient in tribulation. God will use the lousiest, most down and difficult times in our lives to build us up, as well as those around us. When people see you calmly facing a hard time – no matter how uncomfortable it is – and we give God the glory for our peace, know He will rescue as at just the right time… well, that gives others hope in Christ as well. It takes what some may consider the abstract idea of faith in Jesus and turns it into concrete, undeniable reality.
However, as I said, it can be tough. That is why we need to be constant in prayer. We are commanded to “pray without “(1 Thessalonians 5:17). That means to always be in an attitude of prayer, ever-mindful of God’s constant loving presence and ready to pray at the drop of a hat. It means keeping our minds focused squarely on God through Jesus Christ. It means truly resting in the Lord, knowing He can handle any situation.
That means the results are not ours to worry about. The only judgment that matters is that of God alone.
That means you can leave the troubles at work when you go home at night. In fact, you don’t have to carry the troubles around at work, in the car, at home, at church… You have the Lord!
So, tonight I want to encourage you to look at your life. What’s bugging you? Is there something eating away at you? What’s worrying you, or frustrating you, or just plain making you mad? What is robbing you of your peace? Give your cares to God. Trust the Lord with every minute outcome of your life. Face life with the joy, peace and confidence that comes only from faith in Jesus, from relinquishing control and keeping your eyes on Christ at all times.
Tonight, change direction. Correct course. Adjust your priorities so that you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), knowing He will take care of your needs.
Sleep well, dear friends. Be filled with joy and peace in Christ. And rest easy in the strength of the Lord.