How to Have Joy Even In Stressful Situations
There is no doubt in my mind that we live in stressful times. Since September eleventh two thousand and one – we have been fighting a war on terrorism. The threat of a terrorist attack lingers and the war continues. World economics are a great concern. The World Health Organization has estimated that over 52,000 have died from the H1N1 virus. We now live in a technical age where we are constantly wired to the net – whether it is through lap-
In Philippians chapter four – Paul returns to his theme about being joyful in life. In verse four he says:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
God’s Word translation says it this way:
"Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!"
Is it possible to be continually joyful? Can you "always" be joyful? Most people really don’t enjoy life they endure it. Their lives are filled with stress and there’s very little room for joy. Today I want us to look at a strategy for dealing with stress. Paul gives us four very simple and profound statements on how to manage stress in your life:
Worry About NOTHING
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6:
"Be anxious for nothing."
The Holman translation says: "Don’t worry about anything."
The Message Bible says: "Don’t fret or worry."
Without a doubt – Paul is saying that worry should not be a part of our lives. Worry kills joy and is a major source of stress in our lives. Smithsonian magazine calls the time we are living in: "The Age of Anxiety". Someone has done studies on our worries and has discovered that:
40% of our worries never happen
30% of our worries concern the past
12% of our worries are needless worries about your health
10% of our worries are insignificant or petty concerns
8% of our worries are really legitimate concerns
Worry is worthless. It cannot change the past or control the future; all it does is mess up the "right now". It uses up an incredible amount of energy and places a tremendous amount of stress on an individual. When we worry about things they seem to get bigger and bigger. Some of us are very creative about worry. But the Bible says:
"Don’t worry about anything." Philippians 4:6
This is probably the hardest command to obey. It was such an important subject that Jesus even taught about worry when he said:
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:26-
Jesus tells us we are to rely on God and approach one day at a time. Worry is to have no place in our lives.
Pray About EVERYTHING
Whenever God tells you to eliminate something he always has something greater for us. He always replaces a negative with a positive. He is the father who always gives good gifts to his children. Paul says in verse six: "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 Paul is saying don’t worry, pray. In other words don’t panic; praise and pray.
When you stop worrying you free up a lot of time. What can you do with all that free time? Praise and Pray. When you get rid of something you create a vacuum; a void. Fill that void with prayer. I have heard people say: "I don’t have time to pray." My question would be: "Do you have time to worry? If you do, you have time to pray." You know if we filled our worry time with prayer we would have a lot less to worry about. Some people ask: "What should I pray about?" Look at verse six again and circle the word "everything". Some people think that God is only interested in your "religious" stuff. But the truth is God is interested in everything in your life.
He cares about what you are thinking. He cares about what you are feeling. Why? Because he cares about you. Your cares and concerns he cares about. The New Living Translation says: "Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." Philippians 4:6
When you are thanking God for what he has done, you are praising God. When I pray: "God you are mighty, you are magnificent. You have pulled me up out of the pit and set my feet on solid ground. You have forgiven me in my sinfulness. Thank you Lord for being my salvation. Continue Lord to rescue me." In this prayer I am praising God. Prayers don’t have to be long or elaborate. The greatest prayer that I ever prayed was "God help me." First Peter says:
"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-
Here is a fact for you:
There is no problem too big for God’s power or too small for God’s concern.
Look again at verse six. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 Go ahead and circle the word "thanksgiving". God wants us to be thankful. He wants us to have an attitude of gratitude. God’s Word translation says: "In every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks." If you’re depressed here is a suggestion of something that may help; make a list of fifty things you are thankful for. When you start going down the list it will help you stop focusing on your problems and help you focus on how God has blessed you. We have so much to be thankful for but often we take those things for granted. The healthiest human emotion is the attitude of gratitude. Each of us needs to have a grateful heart, a thankful spirit. Ungrateful people tend to be unhappy people. Proverbs tells us:
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
Develop the attitude of gratitude and see how it affects your stress level. A joyful heart is good medicine for the soul. First Thessalonians tells us:
"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
God’s will for your life is for you to be thankful. If you realize all the blessing that God has given you; how can you not be thankful.
Change Your Way Of THINKING
Paul tells us in verse eight: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 Go ahead and circle the word "meditate". God tells us to meditate on all these good things; things which will give him glory and honor. Let me say up front that Christian meditation is quiet different than eastern religion meditation. Christian meditation involves filling yourself rather than emptying yourself. The meditation that the bible talks about is focused thinking. It is taking a thought or a passage of scripture and focusing in on it. The word for meditation in the Greek means to attend to carefully. In other words to look it over in every aspect, to examine it from one direction, turn it, and examine it again. That way you get to know it completely. That is what we are to do with God’s word and anything that is praiseworthy. We are to focus our thinking, spend time on it and get to know it completely.
How many of you are good worriers?
If you are good at worry you can be good at meditation.
Worry is just negative meditation.
When you’re worrying about something, what are you doing?
You’re thinking about it over and over again.
You lay in bed and think and think and go over it in every way you can. But if you think positive about the word of God and those things that honor God -
"Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8
What dominates your thinking?
What does your mind think about the most?
Are they negative or positive?
The Bible tells us to think on those things which gives God honor. What happens if I follow these simple steps? Here is what the bible says will happen:
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
There is a promise in this verse that you will be given peace "which surpasses all understanding" and it will guard your heart and mind. Many people are looking for a peace of mind. They try pills, fads, therapy, self help books, stress reduction techniques anything they can get their hands on, just to get a little peace of mind. But Paul says: "The peace that God wants to give you is above your understanding." It is a gift that cannot be explained, duplicated, or fabricated. It is a peace which only God can give.
How do you gain that kind of peace? Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul has not been talking about religion – he has been talking about a relationship with Jesus Christ. You were made with a God-
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-