Finding peace in the middle of a storm is not an easy proposition. When a trial rages beyond your control, you may be tempted to assume the worst and withdraw. Colossians 3:15-17 paraphrased tells those who believe in God to “let the peace of Christ rule in you hearts…be thankful…sing to God with gratitude in your hearts…give thanks to God.”
Maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving while one battles an unseen enemy seems counter-intuitive. However, being thankful to God means we haven’t given up hope. We can be vigilant while at the same time being kind and encouraging to others. This approach means we believe there’s a future beyond the present situation, even though the road ahead remains obscured. Fight fear with thanksgiving! What do you have to be thankful for?
I’ve been carrying around this scrap of paper in my shirt pocket for more than six months. Scribbled on it are some random thoughts on the subject of joy. Here they are.
Perhaps you know someone who possesses an ever-present, unforced smile or kind demeanor. These attributes in our increasingly self-centered and angry society make these persons stand out in a crowd. They seem to have such an optimistic outlook on life, suggesting they know something we don’t, or possess something we don’t have. So what is it they do have?
You might just have to call it “joy.” Defining joy can be a tricky proposition. I’ve seen joy on display independent of a person’s happiness or circumstances. Joy seems to be the opposite of regret and feeds on “blessings” (those things most of us take for granted). That being said, contentment and joy appear together often. Those possessing joy seem intent on sharing it, and don’t shrink away from helping or serving others.
Where does joy come from? Some would say an inner peace creates an environment where joy can be discovered. Others say joy comes from hope placed in something, or someone. Who wouldn’t benefit from a peaceful life relieved of some stress.
Consider making 2020 a year to discover and embrace joy. Remember to encourage and support those who already possess it.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 CSB
If you are like me, there are incidents in my life where worry rules the day. Philippians 4:6 says, “don’t worry about anything.” Count me among those who wonder, how is that possible?
For starters, I need to remind myself that God is sovereign, He reigns over everything. He never gets distracted. There is never an incident in my day when God is not present. Those who believe these things handle anxiety by praying. In my conversation with God, I pour out my heart (help me, please!). While I’m talking to Him, I also must remember to thank Him for all he has done, for listening to me presently, and for what he is about to do. God’s answer to my prayer might not be how I envisioned it, but I need to remember to thank him regardless of the outcome.
It is through prayer and thanksgiving that, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding can be found.” This peace (that I cannot explain) guards my heart (faith in God) and my (worrisome) mind.
Peace be with you!
After an exhausting day at work, I peeled off my sweaty clothes and tossed them on a pile of laundry. But before I could take up residence on the couch, there were a few household items I needed to take care of. Feeding “big boy” (our parrot fish) and walking Jake and Brody (our two dachshunds) topped the list.
After finishing a relaxing walk with my pups, I grabbed the stack of dirty clothes and tossed it in the washing machine. A couple hours later I transferred the load to the dryer.
I grabbed a fresh towel and a wash cloth from the dryer the next morning as I prepared to start my day. While taking several gulps of coffee, I noticed wads of paper scattered across the floor. I recognized the fragments immediately. They were “scraps,” thoughts I collected for chapter 8 of my upcoming book, which interestingly enough dealt with the issue of distraction.
Accusing thoughts surfaced–Brody! It’s a proven fact he loves to shred anything made of paper. But how did he get ahold of my precious thoughts? Yet, he didn’t look guilty as he rested quietly head in paws. I didn’t know what to think.
Moments later, I visited the dryer again. This time rummaging for a pair of socks. More wads of paper appeared among the clothes. As it turns out, this was my doing!
If I had taken the time to capture these thoughts in my manuscript instead of carrying them around for weeks in my shirt pocket, this calamity could have been averted. In my moment of anxiousness I was reminded of this verse of scripture:
“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ASV
You may be wondering what losing scraps of paper has to do with this passage of scripture. I had the same thought and considered putting this story on ice. I decided to ponder the matter for further and pray about it. A thought came to me this morning. The source of most of my scraps used in this blog find their origin in bathing myself in the peace God provides.
I have to chuckle. From now on, whenever I see, “guarding your thoughts,” (as in folded scraps of paper in my pocket) it will remind me of my washed and dried scraps of paper.