This past Sunday we visited the Skyview Church in Pinellas Park, Florida, and heard a wonderful lesson by their preacher, Charles Murray. (Incidentally, I’ll be preaching there this coming Sunday.)
In the beginning, Charles pointed to a study that found the holidays between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the most stressful time of the year.
Apparently, most Americans agree. In a survey conducted by One Poll, 88% of the 2,000 people surveyed said the holidays were the most stressful time of the year.
Charles suggested that in addition to the holiday stress, people are worried about the economy, inflation, and the direction of our country. In addition, there are the normal stressors of life that may affect any of us at a given point in time. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale mentions these among the top 10.
- Death of a spouse, or close family member.
- Marital separation.
- Personal injury or illness.
- Losing your job.
Charles’ text, which is today’s passage to ponder, offers 4 ways to help us during times of stress, worry, or anxiety.
#1 Worry about nothing.
This, of course, like most challenges in life is easier said than done. Yet, the Bible says, “be anxious for nothing.” Other versions render this, “Don’t worry about anything.”
In Jesus’ Mountain Message, he also admonished His followers, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:33). In that text, Jesus reminds us that if the Father provides for “the birds of the air,” He will also provide life’s necessities for us.
One sage quipped, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere.”
In 2006 Dr. Walter Calvert did a study of the things we worry about. He discovered that:
40% of the things we worry about never happen
30% of our worries concern the past
12% are needless worries about our health
10% are insignificant or petty
8% are legitimate issues
So, 92% of our worries are a waste of time and energy. They are about things that either won’t happen or that we’re unable to change.
#2 Pray about everything.
Paul divinely instructed us to pray instead of worrying. Think about that. “Everything.”
The J. B. Phillips translation paraphrases this passage to read: “Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…”
The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (I Pet.5:7
All your anxiety.
The Creator of the universe cares about you. About the cares, problems, anxieties, and worries of your life. Every detail. Nothing is too big or too small to take to God in prayer.
#3 Be Thankful in Everything.
In a compassion passage, Paul exhorts, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Charles correctly pointed out that the Bible doesn’t say we should be thankful for everything, even bad things, but that we can be thankful “in everything.”
The ESV renders this, “give thanks in all circumstances.”
Even during times of trouble, trial and adversity, there is something for which we can be thankful. A silver lining. A hopeful prospect. A helpful person. A better opportunity. A deeper devotion.
#4 Think about the right things.
Too often when problems arise and circumstances are less than favorable our minds entertain negative, defeating, and self-debilitating thoughts. This text offers the perscription for right thinking in both good times and tough times.
Think on things that are…
When we think about these things, our feelings change, our attitude improves and our actions bring better results. Such thoughts provide a fresh perspective, a brighter outlook, and a happier tomorrow.
American self-help author, Napoleon Hill, in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, advises “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
Two final thoughts will help us through tough times. These four steps need to be taken “in Christ.” In a right relationship with Him. In obedience to His will and Word. And we can expect to receive peace of mind that will guard, keep and protect us.
To paraphrase Robert Schuller: “Tough times never last. But tough people (in Christ) do.” Forever.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
(Note: We’re taking off the next few days from publishing new posts. But will reblog some past posts for your reading pleasure. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!)