Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes the Lord gives us what feels like way more than we can handle. Recently I found myself dealing with an elderly mother-in-law in palliative care, a mentally ill family member refusing needed treatment for a physical problem, and an emotionally challenged member struggling with consequences – some from her decisions and some from choices she had no say in. I was almost tempted to wonder where God was….
We all experience seasons of stress and trial, sorrow and grief. And there may be times when we wonder if our loving God really is loving, present, and Sovereign; it would seem that if He is, He would be doing something to relieve our distress.
Choose to Trust
It helps a lot if we choose to trust Him.
While He doesn’t always swoop down and alleviate our problem with a word, He has provided a way to ease our anxiety. It requires some action on our part: just as when we’re sick we have to go to the doctor, accept his advice and follow his instructions, so – in all seasons really, but especially difficult seasons – we must seek God’s face, yield to His loving care, and follow His directions… which sometimes feel unreasonable.
Verse 2 of Psalms 95 tells us: “Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving….” (HCSB)
Thanks on our Lips
The first time we go to the Lord in the middle of our hard circumstance, with thanks on our lips, it might not feel right; it’s counter-intuitive. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably our focus: we’re probably focused more on the problem than on the Lord. But we’ve been told to enter His presence with thanks not just during the good times but at all times: “pray constantly (emphasis added), give thanks in everything (emphasis added); for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” [1 Thessalonians 5:17-18] Notice we’re not told to give thanks for everything, but in everything, that is, regardless of our circumstances.
And this is where trust comes in. We are called to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 CSB). That can be a very tall order. But if we choose to believe the words of Romans 8:28 – “that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” – trusting Him to work out the situation becomes a reality we can and should thank Him for – even before the blessing itself appears. (See Hebrews 11:1)
A Commitment to Trust
I encourage you: make the commitment to trust Him, choose to trust Him for one week, regardless of what’s going on in or around you. Commit to entering His presence focused on Him – not the problem, not the concern, not the request, but Him – with thanksgiving on your lips, for one week. If you know Jesus, He will enable you to realize peace, His peace. I say “realize” because Jesus told us that He has given us His peace; we have it already. In John 14:27 He tells us: “‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you…’” We already have His peace. It’s a gift, but sometimes when we’re in hard circumstances we kind of forget that we have that gift. We need to remember that we have it and go back and open up that precious gift by spending time in His presence, in trust, with thanks.
Imagine how we’ll feel living in His “peace that surpasses understanding,” regardless of what’s happening in our lives, regardless of what’s going on around us. It is definitely doable when we choose to trust in the Lord and discipline ourselves to focus on Him – in season and out, regardless of what’s going on – with thanksgiving.