Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Worry and Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; 
for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 118:1

So what's on your mind today?  Thanksgiving is two days away and I am nervous my bird isn't going to thaw.  There are a lot of bigger things to worry about, but the turkey is one in a long list of worries we can have this time of year:
  • Will the family get along?
  • Will the food be enough?
  • Will my already tight jeans zip up on Friday?
  • Will I have the strength to battle the crowds for the deals on Friday?
  • How can I spend less and keep everyone happy?
And then there are the bigger worries of life:
  • He's filing for divorce
  • I've lost my job
  • My son has a drinking problem
  • The test results should be in on Friday
  • We can't afford a turkey, let alone Christmas gifts
  • The roof is rotting and we have no plan
  • My children are far from me and the Lord
  • I can't find work
  • I found a text on his phone 
  • I've let my parents down again
What we set our mind on will affect everything in our lives - how we feel, what we do, where we go and how we survive the holidays.  Just typing that list was beginning to give me a headache.  The burdens of life are real and for many of us, inescapable.

In honor of the upcoming festivities, may I make a few suggestions today?  Let's start with Psalm 118.  The opening verse instructs us to give thanks to the Lord because He is good.  If God was bad, it would be hard to thank Him, but He's not bad - He's good - therefore, we should thank Him.  

Last night, as I went to bed, my mind was starting to race with anxious thoughts, so I put this verse to the test.  I began a discussion with the Father that looked like this:  Father, I know that you are good because, do you remember when Joshua was supposed to bring Israel into the land and he was pretty unprepared and frightened?  What did You do?  You appeared to him, had several conversations, gave him clear directions and told him to be courageous.  Then you wiped out his enemies.  I know You are good because when I read the story of Ruth, I see Your sovereign hand guiding her footsteps and providing for this foreigner beyond her wildest expectations.  I know You are good because of how gently and kindly your angel approached Mary to tell her she was pregnant - You made sure she wasn't frightened and You calmed her heart.  I know you are good because my life is drenched with Your goodness...and then I went on to list out several ways that He has been good to me.  Then I fell asleep, worries aside, thankfulness in my heart.

When we are instructed to be thankful because God is good, this is not based on a lack of evidence.  My first suggestion is to take time out to think of the goodness of God from the evidence in His word and then the evidence in your own life.  As you think through these examples, thank Him.  Give your heart a break from it's anxiety and set your eyes on Him.  This will nearly always produce thankfulness. Why? Because God really is good and it's easy to be thankful to One who is good.

Second, take your cares to Jesus.  Pray about them. Pray with expectation that He will answer you and lead you.  Pour your heart out and ask Him to give you the strength to do what you need to do.

Next, do what is in your power to do.   Often times we worry about something that we haven't acted on.  So ask yourself, what can I do to solve this problem?  Do I need to fill out more job applications or ask my husband to go to counseling with me or sit down my son and talk about his drinking or confront my husband about his phone?  Whatever is in your strength to do, knowing that the Lord is with you, do it. 

And finally, for those things outside of your control, leave them in the Lord's hands.  YOU CANNOT DO WHAT GOD ALONE CAN DO.  You can't save your children, you can't force someone to hire you, you can't make those medical tests come out fine and you can't change the past.  Sometimes we are truly helpless to change a circumstance, but God is never helpless. And you know what?  God is good.  So again, turn your eyes onto Jesus and leave in His care the things that you cannot change, trusting His goodness and His love for you.  Do you need proof of His love?  Look at the cross.

A thankful heart is not one that magically appears one day a year at the end of November.  It's a way of living.  Yes, the cares of this life will continue, but we are not alone.  We have a good, good Father who loves us and asks us to cast our cares on Him.  As you head into the holiday season, try starting and ending your day with a few minutes reminding the Father of how good He is, from stories in His word and then examples in your own life.  This is a great place to set your mind as you seek to be a thankful person.

1 comment:

  1. So good right now...and always!! The Lord is good and always seeking Him is the only way to feel peace in our hectic times...needed this:)