Stress Less

People…so many people! People in cars, people walking on the streets, people in restaurants, people on the beach. Pushy sales people, over-priced food, ridiculously expensive art work. Smelly seals, smelly sidewalk sewers, smelly car fumes….yes, it was a very nice day.

Walking hand in hand with my sweetheart, watching the sunset from the boardwalk, looking at visually stunning works of photography and learning about the shots and photographers, sipping coffee on a patio with balmy seventy-some degree breezes, enjoying the scent of the salt water that hung in the atmosphere….relaxing in the pleasure of knowing I’m on vacation.

Truth. Both interpretations of the day are accurate. Perspective. Where will my focus be…on the negative or positive? Isn’t this an everyday scenario? Pain and pleasure intermixed, hassle and reward intertwined, annoyance and satisfaction interwoven into what we call “our day.”

So how do we get through a typical day in a manner that’s pleasing to the Lord, when every day is not overflowing with roses and chocolate?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Paul gives three final instructions to the church in Thessolonica. He says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I believe we can find some good practical application in this verse for handling whatever life throws at us, so let’s break it down.

1. Rejoice always… be filled with an inner joy that keeps your soul buoyed above your circumstances. The waves may come crashing down upon you, but joy is your floatation device. As you start to feel yourself go under the water, joy will propel you back up into the atmosphere where you can breathe again. It sustains you. Re…joice. In other words, do it over and over again, continually. Claim a lifestyle of soul joyfulness. And why should we be joyful? Regardless of our circumstances, as Christians we have an unmovable, unshakable, unbeatable Overcomer who has already won our battles and promised us a future too wonderful to even comprehend. NOTHING….from life to death….can take Him away from us.
2. Pray continually. We have the privilege of conversing with the Almighty God of the universe, whenever, wherever, however we desire. We can talk to Him out loud or in our minds, eyes open or eyes shut, alone or in a group, when we’re happy and when we’re sad, when everything’s going right, when everything’s going wrong, when we feel close to Him, and when we feel far away, when we’re angry, tired, overwhelmed, frightened, stressed, excited, happy or silly. You get the picture…there’s no bad time to pray…it’s ALL good, it’s ALL beneficial, and He is pleased when we are “real” with Him. Obviously this verse doesn’t mean pray 24/7, but I think we should remember Him as a first resort rather than a last. Pray first, react second. Pray first, decide second. Pray first…you get the point.
3. Give thanks in all circumstances. We’ve heard about the silver lining behind every cloud, the glass half full, and there are no flowers without the rain. This verse doesn’t say give thanks FOR all circumstances, but give thanks IN all circumstances. Whatever your circumstances are today, don’t let your perspective be shaped by the obvious truth or reality. Go deeper, go beyond, and search for the silver lining, the half full glass and the flowers among the raindrops. God wants us to experience joy in the security of knowing our future, authentic relationship with Him every day, and to fix our eyes on all we have to be grateful for; then attributing that gratitude to the One who is worthy of it, as He is the originator of every good and perfect gift…”this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”