“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
Daily life can, at times, be overwhelming. The students with whom I work often struggle with the demands of their class loads, combined with the typical ordeals of college life such as relationships and decisions about the future. They are often overwhelmed with everything coming at them. But, as I often tell them, the stresses of life will never let up, even after they graduate. They may be different, but they will always be present.
Adults, too, have many stresses. Pressures from jobs, marriage, raising children, and on-going financial challenges cause lots of stress as we move through life. The reality is life at almost any point contains elements of stress. We often imagine, particularly when we are young, that there will come a point in our lives when we will be stress-free, but that is an illusion. Life in a fallen world will always contain some stress.
The question then is how do we deal with it in a healthy manner? We all know stress handled poorly can take years off of our lives. Stress leads to elevated blood pressure, sleepless nights, and irritability, all of which can harm us physically. Again, the Scriptures provide helpful guidance.
Paul says to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances. Now 1st Century life was full of stress, particularly for followers of Jesus. Not only did they face the normal challenges of mere survival common in that day, but they also faced the daily threat of persecution for their faith. If anyone had reason to be overwhelmed by life, it was 1st Century believers. So if this command applies to them, it most definitely applies to us today.
Underlying Paul’s command is a deeply held belief that the Lord is in complete control. No matter the circumstances of our lives, God is not throwing up His hands in desperation, having no idea how to deal with your particular situation. He’s got it under control. Thus, Paul says we should rejoice and give thanks because the Lord can be trusted even in the most desperate of circumstances. And we should pray because that is the way our trust in the Lord is fed and maintained. As we talk with Him, like when a child is soothed of his fear when in his father’s lap hearing his gentle words, our anxieties will melt away.
Today, know life will always be filled with stress. Yet know that regardless of what is happening, the Lord is in control. When you are feeling overwhelmed, run to Him and share your fears. Then you will be able to rejoice and be thankful regardless of what you face because you will know the Lord has got everything in your life under control.
© Jim Musser 2014