Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. All of us have much for which to be thankful to our God and Creator. There is a hymn which says, “Count your many blessings/name them one by one/and you’ll be surprised at what the Lord has done.” When we all stop and do just that – when we count all the good things in our lives – it really does bring a needed perspective. This new outlook is essential to improving our lives and avoiding stress and anxiety.
Christians should always keep God’s numerous blessings in mind in order to avoid burnout. It is easy to forget that God the Father is our ultimate provider and protector when we get so stressed out and worried over things. As a result, we may begin to doubt either God’s ability to care for us or His love for us. It is at these times that our faith is just as “little” as those who forget that God takes care of nature (Matthew 6:30), the disciples who so feared the storm that they forgot Jesus was with them (Matthew 8:25-26), or Peter who walked on water yet still was afraid (Matthew 14:30-31).
God inspired the psalmist in the Old Testament to tell His followers three times in one psalm to not worry (Psalm 37:1, 7, 8), just as Jesus told His listeners three times in the Sermon on the Mount to not worry (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34). This particular psalm tells Christians exactly how to avoid stress because of their recognition of how good God is. It lists four steps that saints must never forget to apply to their lives:
First, all of God’s children must trust in the Lord (Psalm 37:3). “Trust” here carries with it the idea of being on our face because we have no visible means of support – we cannot handle things on our own. The apostle Paul made it clear that this is so (2 Corinthians 3:5; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13). To truly trust in the Lord means that Jesus is ALL one has, and we are confident that He is more than enough!
Disciples of Christ must also delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4). This means that He is their ultimate source of joy (Philippians 4:4). Nothing even begins to compare to the joy Christians must have in Him. Isaiah speaks of those who “delight to know (God’s) ways” and “take delight in approaching God” (Isaiah 58:2). Does that sound like you and me?
Furthermore, those who believe in God must commit our way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5). “Way” means one’s habit, lifestyle, or routine; it’s our well-traveled path of life. “Commit” means to roll off the burden, “casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). All Christians must take to heart what God told the prophet: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). When saints are really stressed out and worried (and think they’re going crazy), there really is a sense in which they need to be committed – the Psalm 37:5 sense. All who love Jesus must be committed to God, because there is grace and mercy to be found in Him (Hebrews 4:16).
Finally, Christians must rest in the Lord (Psalm 37:7). This has to do with having the quiet, victorious confidence that God is in control, that He cares and everything will work together for good (Romans 8:28). However, it must be said that we really cannot rest in the Lord until we first trust, delight, and commit to Him. Have you made that decision?
I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I pray that as we all enter into the busy holiday season as 2018 comes to a close, we avoid stress and burnout by keeping these biblical principles in mind. Nothing eases worry more than committing one’s life to the Lord. I preach for the Calhoun Church of Christ on Dews Pond Road, and we would love to help you start that journey. Come visit us this Sunday and e-mail me at email@example.com if you would like to have a Bible study.