We all have things that stir us up a bit. They tend to shake our world. We, too often, let these things also shape our way of thinking. We let them change our attitude. Instead of being rational about the situation sometimes we run around like a chicken with its head cut off. Or, maybe we let it shake our world so much that we even become bitter and angry. These are all things that could happen in circumstances that don’t go exactly as you have planned, but there is a consistent factor that happens more so than not in ANY situation.
It’s worry. We may get angry at someone or something for what has happened, but we will typically always worry. It’s like the necessary tag-a-long to most emotions. Even when there isn’t an event that shakes our world, we still worry. We do it on a daily basis: “I wonder what everyone will think of my hair”, “I hope everyone likes my outfit”, “I’m worried that it will not turn out the way I have planned”, on and on.
Friends, the holidays are coming. This is the time of year when our family comes together, in the same house, under the same roof, close and tightly knitted together. I know for some of us this hits the worry nerve right on the head. It begins this week with Thanksgiving: “I hope Uncle Bob doesn’t make another comment about the burnt rolls from years ago”, “I hope Cousin Greg doesn’t bring his new girlfriend”, “I hope Sister Suzy’s son behaves this year”. We let these things, these overpowering thoughts, these worries, get tangled up in our minds and we forget the real meaning of Thanksgiving. Which is to be grateful for what God has given us and what God has done in our lives in the past… and also for our Uncle Bob’s, Cousin Greg’s, and Sister Suzy’s.
Check out how God wants us to handle any worry:
Paul states in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Instead of being anxious, or worrying about the situation, or the outcome of the situation, we need to go to prayer.
But what kind of prayer? Thankful prayer. You may think, “Thankful for what? I’m not happy to be in this situation.” While I’m sure no one would be thankful to be in a situation that causes anxiousness and worry, we need to be thankful about what God has already done in our lives and what He is going to continue to do. We can praise Him for the healing that is going to happen, for the provision that’s coming, for the relationship that will be restored. We must begin to thank Him in the midst of our circumstances, simply for who He is, so that our focus and gaze shifts Heavenward.
Let me tell you a story. As I am officially a college student, classes are getting harder, professors are becoming stricter, and school/homework is becoming seemingly unbearable. I am a perfectionist. I have to get perfect grades and perfect scores on every assignment. However, that is not always the case because this is not high school anymore, it is not as easy. I have let worry creep in at the thought of getting a grade lower than an “A” in certain classes for the semester. “What will my other friends think?” “What will my parents think?” “What about my G.P.A.?” These are all things that run through my mind. I began to shut myself away in the library for hours to work on assignments, I started doing homework at every meal, if I wasn’t doing homework, I would shut myself away in my dorm and sleep so that I could do it all again the next day. If I got something as low as a “B” I would get upset because I knew that I put a ton of effort into it and thought I deserved an “A”.
It was not until recently when I was talking with my boss on campus about my grades and how I have a few “B’s” and a few “A’s” that I thought otherwise. She saw how upset I was about the “B’s” and how I was letting the worry bother me and take over my life. She simply said “You are in college now! A “B” is actually a good thing!” And then proceeded to ask me if I felt like I was learning. I responded with “yes”. Her response is what made me turn my thinking around and kill the worry. She said “If you are learning, then you are accomplishing the goal of college”.
That night while I was lying in bed, I prayed. I asked God why I had let worry take over my life. The only thing I could hear in response from God was “Why do you let this worry you? Have you forgotten who I am? Have you forgotten all the blessings I have given you in the past? Don’t think for a moment that this is going to be any different.”
Church, it’s not about what is going on in the situation, it’s about being thankful. Thankful that we have a God that can take us out of any situation if He so chooses. Thankful that we have been blessed with what we have and for what God has done for us in the past. Most of all, we need to be thankful for the cross and what Jesus did for us. We need to be thankful for the gift of eternal life.
So friends, what are you thankful for this week? Set aside any worry and give it to the Lord in thanksgiving. Don’t forget to share with your family what you are thankful for either as we enjoy Thanksgiving together!
To hear more about worry and thanksgiving, check out Pastor Aaron Taylor’s sermon “Worry Less: Part Three, The Gratitude Key” on Painesville Assembly of God’s podcast.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving and enjoy time with your family and friends that your King has given you!