Everyone has stress, pain that is difficult to manage, and temptations that are struggles. Do not tell your problems with others, but instead, take everything to God in prayer. Never speaking any words of doubt or discouragement should be a rule and motto in your life. You can strengthen and uplift the lives of others with a positive outlook on life and by spreading hope and happiness.
Many people who we will meet who struggle with temptation, and who are failing the battle against the power of evil and the power of self. When interacting with others in this situation, do not discourage them, do not share your own struggles. Instead, applaud them for how far they have come, and share confident, empowering words that will motivate them to continue and not give up. In this way, we can let Christ’s light and love shine through us. “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.” (Romans 14:7). Unconsciously, we are able to influence others, and encourage and strengthen them by being positive with our lives. The alternate, like we shared earlier, that we will unconsciously discourage them and push them away from Jesus and God’s truth.
Many people are deceived and have a flawed idea about Christ’s life and character. These people believe that Jesus’ life lacked happiness and joy. They believe His character was strict, harsh, and stern. In these cases, an inaccurate ideal, and an incorrect picture of God, taint Christian life.
We hear people talk about the shortest verse in the Bible that tells us that Jesus wept, but we miss the hidden message in this verse that Jesus was not like this usually. Our Savior knows human pain because He opened Himself up to humanity by becoming human. While living on this earth, He modeled a life of self-denial and while people bringing their problems and hurts to Him cast a shadow on His life, these things never crushed His spirit. Jesus’ never expressed to others that He was stressed or not satisfied with life. Instead, He always displayed an inner, God-given peace. In His heart was a bottomless spring of spiritual life, and everywhere He went He shared rest, peace, joy, and happiness.
Jesus’ life was extremely focused, and at times was intense and serious, but He was never depressed or regretful. This is an example for us. As disciples, we should model our lives after His and be extremely focused as well. We will set high standards for ourselves, and we will have a deep sense of personal responsibility. We will silence our sarcasm, and build self-control in our lives. We will seek and ask for Jesus’ peace to fill our lives. Jesus’ peace does not silence joy or happiness from shining from our lives. We must remember that Jesus came to care for and look after those who are hurting, and when His love is in our hearts, we will follow His example.
If we dwell on and focus our minds on how bad other people are, because they did something that is wrong by our standards, we will find it impossible to love them as Jesus loves us. However, if we dwell on and focus our minds on what Jesus has done for us, and on His love for us, the same spirit of love that Jesus shares with us will flow outward towards others. We must love and respect each other, in spite of the obvious faults and imperfections in their lives. We should practice patience, humility, and selflessness towards others in our lives. Practicing and strengthening these skills will eliminate selfishness and make us generous towards others.
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” (Psalm 37:3). Each day has its share of difficulties, worries, and challenges. When meeting others, whether they are strangers or friends, how quick are we to jump to talking about our problems or struggles? With high anxiety over so many deceptively-personal challenges, and with fear over the unlikely causing panic in our minds, others probably would conclude if this is the majority of our conversation, that we did not have a loving God who is interested in hearing our problems, and a caring God who wants to help us with our struggles.
The fear trap catches some people, causing them to be constantly worried about something, and they are quick to grab the struggles of others and make these troubles their own. Reminders of God’s love surround them each day, and every day they are enjoying things that He has blessed them with, but they instead choose to ignore or minimize the blessings in favor of the worry. Their minds are always on some debate or conflict that causes them fear over the outcome, or they may be focusing on and worried about something that really could affect them while simply ignoring the countless blessings that one could be thankful for receiving. The challenges they face on a daily basis, while they could be a catalyst that brings them closer to God, the only Source of help, end up separating them further from God because they are too focused on the problem, challenge, and specifically the worry, fear, and negativity surrounding the situation.
Are we doing ourselves any good acting or being unbelieving or untrusting? Why should we be ungrateful and worried about the future? Jesus is our friend and all of heaven is interested in our happiness and safety. We cannot let the challenges and stress of life to cloud our minds with worry and negative thoughts. There will always be things that we could focus on that would cause fear and anxiety. Instead of falling into the trap that worry sets for us, we should instead analyze the challenges and avoid the situations where we have no control. Worry spreads like a wildfire where control is not present.
Problems and challenges can show up in your job or business. Prospect lists or tasks may shrink and look depressing, but instead of becoming depressed or discouraged, give the trouble completely to God, and then remain happy and peaceful. Pray for wisdom to manage your daily tasks in the wisest way possible to keep things from becoming worse than they could become. Do whatever you ethically can to beat the situation. Jesus has promised to help us, but this help is not separate from us working alongside of Him. When relying on Jesus and we have done everything we could have done, we should accept the results willingly and optimistically.
God’s will for us is not to have us crushed with worry or anxiety. He does not make false promises or say that we should never fear because there will never be any dangers in our life. He knows that there are challenges, difficulties, and dangerous situations that we all face, and He talks directly to us. God is not interested in taking us out of a sin-filled world, but instead, He wants us to lean on Him as a constant source of protection. He wants to use us to help the world. Jesus’ prayer for us is, “I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” (John 17:15). “I [Jesus] have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Next week, we will conclude this discussion in our series looking at Celebrating Life with Jesus.
P.S. As always, if I missed something, or if you would like to respond on this topic, join the conversation below!