(December 14, 2017) Maureen McQuillan brings an encouraging Christmas linked thought…
Worrying doesn’t solve our problems or lift our burdens! In fact it causes us to ‘stew’ over matters and they hang around causing additional headaches and trouble minds and hearts!
Thought: It’s almost Christmas… think of young Joseph and the burdens that he could have been carrying some 2000 years ago and worrying over…
- Newly married… to a young girl with whom he’s never been sexually intimate and discovers she’s pregnant!
- Then has a strange notification by an angel that the baby was conceived by the very Spirit of God!
- Has to take the pregnant Mary with him to Bethlehem to register for a census!
- This approximately 160km trip would have taken them 8-10 long days of walking.
- Probably a scary, uncomfortable journey for the young pregnant Mary, but what about Joseph?
- Then at Bethlehem, he’s unable to find lodgings as the time of her delivery of this babe draws so close!
I like Joseph’s attitude to his uncertainties when he first contemplated what lay ahead if he honoured marriage with his beloved… like his forefather, David, he too was obviously a man after God’s own heart.
Matthew 1:20 Message is very clear, ‘While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in a dream: Joseph…’ The young carpenter receives directions from the heart of a caring God (as he would on other occasions) and we’re told in verse 24 his immediate response was ‘he did exactly what he was commanded…’ In other words, he went for it – God’s way!
If the New Testament had been around, perhaps he’d done what we should do when pressures, uncertainties and problems hit us… read a comforting scripture such as 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him [God] because he cares for you.’
Good advice indeed… but our trouble is that too many times –
- We find it difficult to fully trust the Lord and let go of the problem! Or…
- We try to work things out our way!
- Even if we do hear from the Lord, we hesitate to promptly obey
- We simply won’t make the required move and thus remain in the dismal status quo!
The uncertainty of the unknown
As human beings we tend to worry, or we won’t let go of the issue and trust God… even after we’ve prayed about it. We’re not sure of the future; what tomorrow might bring let alone months down the track. We like to know what’s up ahead, we’re only comfortable when life is organised to some degree. The uncertainty of the unknown often causes us a great deal of anxiety.
And when a crisis comes we can be overwhelmed by it – if we allow ourselves to go down the wrong road, one of worry, concern, doubts, fear and such! It can become worse – a quagmire!
This almost happened to me recently due to a strange sudden out-of-the-blue illness that had me hanging on for dear life and rushed to the hospital!
But instead of going under in the midst of what could have been a panicky situation challenge, I turned to the Lord who knows the future and has gone before us. It is so comforting to know that Jesus is not caught unawares by what happens to us or doesn’t know what we’re going through!
The incredible event that we call Christmas was centuries ago – Jesus is no longer that little babe of Bethlehem; he’s King Jesus, our risen Saviour, great intercessor and carer!
Romans 8:34-5 Message is so comforting: ‘The one who died for us – who was raised to life for us! – is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not…’
Hey, just don’t think ‘anyone’ but also think ‘anything!’
One of my favourite scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-7, immediately came to me that possible-crisis afternoon: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
The Message puts it this way: ‘Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!’
Here’s what this scripture means to me…
1. Trust in the Lord
Trusting God means to have confidence in him!
Having confidence in someone means to completely depend on that person to totally handle the situation. Personally I know that I know that I know that I can leave my burdens, challenges, uncertainties and such in Jesus’ capable hands for he has repeatedly proved that he cares for me and can, has and does bring me through all of life’s problems.
And as the old Stuart Hamblen hymn goes: ‘It is no secret, what God can do. What he’s done for others, he’ll do for you.’ Experience reminds us that those lines refer to more than sins being forgiven and forgotten! Jesus cares for us in every way!
2.With all your heart
The Bible speaks of the heart as the centre of our being: ‘It is the well spring of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).
The heart is seen as the centre of one’s intellect, emotion and volition (decision-making power). Therefore to trust the Lord with all our heart is really to do so with our whole being – our very life! Again, once we’ve experienced his love and care we’ll know that he will never let us down.
3. Lean not on your own understanding
No matter how wise or clever we may be, we can’t always fully depend on our own judgment as it is limited and subject to error!
Our God is the only all-wise one who knows the best way to work out the matter that trouble us; knows how to bring us through every situation.
4. In all your ways acknowledge him
We should always acknowledge the Lord in everything we do and experience! That’s an important part of trusting, honouring and worshipping God.
This also means looking to him every day for direction and provisions. In all our ways… thoughts, considerations and proposed actions. We can come before him and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
5. And he will make your paths straight!
God promises to guide us in a clear straight line – even when to natural eyes the road ahead may appear potholed, twisting and dangerous!
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus comforts us with ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ He invites everyone who is troubled with life’s problems to come to him. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that he is able to do more for us than we might ever ask or think!
Casting those burdens on Jesus
When facing difficulties too great for us to handle, God invites us to cast (literally ‘throw’) all our anxieties (worries) on him because he cares for us. That’s the 1 Peter scripture quoted above and we need to realise three things here –
- ‘Cast’ … that’s a fisher’s strong arm action, casting far out into the sea away ‘out there’!
- Anxiety… that’s merimna, any distractions, troubles.
- ‘Cares’ is melo… indicating concern as in ‘It matters to me because I interested in you.’
Wow! Our creator God is interested in us, concerned about us! What an invitation! He’s willing to take on our burdens and help us through every situation.
Let’s ensure we’re not only good ‘people fishers’ as far as witnessing is concerned (Matthew 4:19) but that we’re also strong at really throwing those worries way out there and not quickly reeling them back in!
Jesus cares for you and is willing to make a difference in your life. It’s so encouraging to know there is an antidote for worry: Develop a relationship with the one who can supply the answers.
Prayer and the reading God’s word bring a renewed trust in his faithfulness and a peace that passes our understanding. Our hearts and minds will be guarded from the destruction, stress and oppression that anxiety brings.
A Christmas thought
Naturally when we think of Christmas, we celebrate with thanks and adoration God’s amazing great gift – his Son Jesus who would become the Saviour of the world.
Well … celebrate something else – the fact that the babe of Bethlehem grew into a man, the greatest fisher of all. As Luke 2:52 Mge records: ‘And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.’
As a mature man, this blessed Son of God comforted worriers in Matthew 6:25-27NLT: ‘That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’
So then… why worry? Have a relaxed, meaningful, Christ-centred Christmas – without worries!