Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Don’t worry; be happy

Life is full of anxieties. It doesn’t matter where you work or where you live or how much money you have. Anxiety is something you can’t get away from, and the only way to handle it is to deal with it.

You can try to ignore it, but if you just set it aside without actually dealing with the root of the problem, your anxieties and your worries will continue to scream at an ever-worsening pitch until you can’t focus on anything else.

So how do you deal with worry and anxiety? What do you do? Is there a twelve-step program? Is there a magic pill you can take? Hardly. But there is a book to read that has some insight on how to deal with worrying.

Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Moon in the morning sky over the orchard at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 4:6-7.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I know. Not the thing you probably want to read. I know it’s not what I want to hear either because it’s one of those answers that’s simple and complex at the same time.

Don’t worry about anything? Is Paul serious?

Well, yes. He’s absolutely serious. And if we compare our lives to his, I’d bet that he had more right to worry than we do.

Worrying is a choice. It’s just like anything else we choose to think about, and we don’t have to let our minds do whatever they want.

Paul is saying here that we need to choose not to worry.  Just don’t do it. At all. About anything. And maybe that sounds impossible, maybe that sounds harsh, maybe it sounds unreasonable–because after all, some worrying is good, isn’t it?

Personally, I don’t think so. Because concern only goes so far before it turns into worry, and worry is a major distraction in our lives.

We can choose not to worry. So choose not to worry today. Whatever is happening in your life, whatever is going right, whatever is going wrong, choose not to worry. Instead of looking at everything that is going wrong or that could go wrong or that went wrong, think about what God did to bring you there to begin with.

Talk to God about it. Tell Him what your problems are. Trust Him to work them out. No, you may not see results immediately, but if you trust Him, you’ll see something, whether it’s through another person or through an event or through reading Scripture.

Worry drags us down. It turns us into people who aren’t much fun to be around. And it’s absolutely the easiest sin to fall into because it seems harmless. I mean, how is my worrying going to hurt someone else?

Well, it doesn’t start off hurting others. It starts off by hurting you. If all your energy is focused on worrying, you will begin to see the damage in physical ways. It will damage you physically. It will damage you emotionally. And it will damage you spiritually because when you get right down to it, worry is telling God He doesn’t know what He’s doing. It’s a lack of trust in what God has promised, and that will hurt your relationship with Him.

And then, as it progresses, worry will eventually begin to damage your earthly friendships as well. It will raise a barrier between you and people who love you.

Worry is an insidious sin, stealthy and nagging. Even when you think you’ve mastered it, worry will continue to creep up behind you and whisper in your ears. But worry can be forced away.

Maybe it’s denial, but worry is something you can’t just ignore. You have to set it aside. You have to forcibly remove it and set it on the top shelf where it will gather dust until God provides a way to take care of it. But you have to let go of it. You have to put it away.

That part is difficult for me, because worrying is somewhat comforting in a sadistic way.

But as long as you hold on to worry and anxiety, you won’t know peace. And if you don’t know peace, you’re not going to be happy. So today, whatever you’re worrying about, put it down. Stop focusing on it. Change your mind about it and focus on what God is doing that you can see and feel.

Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He has promised to take care of it all.

As I was writing this post today, I had a song stuck in my head, and it made me smile. So I thought I would share.

Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Something to remember

What’s the big deal about rejoicing anyway? The Bible says over and over again that we need to rejoice, and Philippians is full of instances where Paul says to be joyful, be joyful, be joyful.

And I get that we need to be joyful because it will help our perspective. I get that we need to rejoice in difficult circumstances because it will help other people be encouraged. And deep down inside I understand that difficult circumstances come to help us grow and to remind us that this world isn’t home. But there are days when it still feels like an exercise in futility to continue rejoicing when nothing seems to go right.

So on those days when it’s difficult to find joy in anything, maybe we need to remember one important fact.

Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 4:4-5.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Maybe this doesn’t bring comfort to you like it does to me, but the idea that the Lord is coming soon is enough to make me jump for joy.

I’ve read this set of verses many times, and every time before I have split them up into two statements: An admonishment to rejoice always and instructions to be considerate because God will be coming back soon. But when I read it this morning, I read it differently.

I’m not a Bible scholar, so maybe it wasn’t intended this way. But what if it’s three statements on how to live instead of two? Rejoice. Be considerate. Remember.

Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

What if that little tag on the end of that verse isn’t a warning like I’ve always thought it was? I’ve always read it like Paul is saying we need to be considerate or else. Rejoice and put others first, or else God will get you when He comes back soon.

But this morning that’s not how it sounds.

Rejoice always. Making this choice is great for our focus and our perspective.

Be considerate. Making this choice is great for our relationships with others.

Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Remember, the Lord is coming soon, so when you don’t feel like rejoicing, you still have something to rejoice about. Remember, the Lord is coming soon, so when you’re so bogged down with your own troubles that you can’t invest in others for a time, you still have something to look forward to.

With the pressures of daily life and the stress of just living, it’s so easy to forget that God is going to come back for us. It’s so easy to get buried in this life and think this is all there is. But this isn’t all there is. This world isn’t home. God is preparing a place for us that defies explanation, and we will get to live there with Him for all eternity, along with the others who have gone before us in Christ. No more sickness. No more pain. No more night. No more suffering. No more conflict or stress or tension.

That is our home. Not this broken, worn down shell of a world that we turned over to Satan thousands of years ago.

Yes. Rejoice always. That’s not an option. When everything goes wrong, rejoice. When everything goes right, rejoice. Choose to have an attitude that makes you unsinkable.

And be considerate of other people. Put others first. Help others succeed. Encourage others. Be there for others.

But above all else, remember, the Lord is coming soon. The world won’t go on like this forever, and when the ticking clock of Time itself finally winds down, all of us who know Christ will get to go on living with Him.

The little annoying troubles in life are just pebbles in our shoes as we’re walking home. Yeah, they’re irritating, but they’re just little things. And, yes, little things can add up until the sum of them feels like a big thing, but that’s perspective. Because even a mountain of pebbles is still insignificant compared to what God can do with faith the size of a mustard seed.