Don’t Worry; Be Happy!

Picture2The Bible is full of admonitions not to worry, not to be fearful, to rejoice in the LORD, and to accept Christ’s peace, but how do we do that in the day to day? And what do we do when our emotions rebel against our head? 😉 Today I’m thrilled to have my dear friend, critique partner, and fellow Christ to the World writer back with us sharing her heart on how she believes we can maintain a joyful heart.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy! By Tanya Eavenson1120282_laughter

Do you remember that song by Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy?” Instinctively I start to sing the next line before my lips can follow along, landing somewhere along here:

“Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo,  don’t worry  oo-oo-oo-oo   be happy now  Oo-oo-oo”

There’s just something about that song that makes you want to sing and smile. You can’t help yourself.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, I like the cheerful heart better than the crushed spirit. Don’t you? But sometimes things happen in our lives or the lives of others around us, causing a chain reaction that is out of our control and affects us in some way.

What do we do? Do we humble ourselves and pray, or do we worry?

Philippians 4: 6 says, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Scripture tells us we should pray; when we do, “7 …the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

God will give you peace in every situation and it’s not just any peace, or one we create for ourselves the lasts one minute and is gone the next. But a peace that we can’t understand that calms us to our very core, one that comes from the Father, reassuring us that we aren’t alone.

At the beginning of Philippians 4, scripture very clearly calls us to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” I know it’s not easy to rejoice all the time, but God is saying to choose to rejoice in any and all circumstances. Not because of your circumstances, but to rejoice in Him– Who He is, His love for you, for your life in Him. Rejoice! For the Lord is near!

If we take a step back and look at our lives, not our circumstances, but what Christ has done for us and His grace, we can only rejoice. And if you’re rejoicing, your heart is a cheerful heart and good medicine for your soul.

Which do you choose?

Tanya Eavenson and her husband have been involved in ministry for fifteen years teaching youth and adults, and doing counseling. Tanya enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes for Christ to the World Ministries sharing the Gospel around the world.

Visit her online:

Website: http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/111621198804346509165#111621198804346509165/posts

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Tan_eave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanya-Eavenson/129609683872033

Blog: http://guidedgirls.blogspot.com/

And check out her debut novel, a beautiful story of God’s unconditional, ever-reaching, ever-healing love:

Unconditional:

Elizabeth Roberts can’t remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to Unconditionalforget her infant daughter’s death, her husband’s affair.

When his wife’s coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can’t erase his betrayal, but with God’s help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

Let’s talk about this:

When talking about fear vs. faith, worry vs. prayer, I often think of the verse Tanya referenced, Ephesians 4:6-7. Read it again, taking notice of the words in bold:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When you present requests to God, how often have you paused to thank Him for what He’s done? I’ve found, when I do so, suddenly, my current problems diminish in light of His power demonstrated by His faithful acts. For example, if I’m concerned about our finances, when I pause to thank Him for all the ways He’s provided for our family in the past, I remember He’s always provided for our needs, so why should this instance be any different?

I’ve often found negative thinking breeds negative thinking and fear, if left unchecked, begets more fear. But how can actively determining our thoughts, or, as the Bible says, taking our thoughts captive, help us combat fear?

What are you worried about today? What aspects of God’s nature combat that fear? I encourage you to write ten things you know to be true about God. Keep those written attributes with you, and when you begin to feel fear creeping in, pull them out and pray them, thanking God for being who He is.

(If you struggle with fear and/or anxiety, you might find the following article helpful: Battling Anxiety.)

***

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on Living by Grace, or join our online Bible study. We’d love to have you!

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Click to join ProverbsStudy

Clinging to Hope

for they did not believe in God
    or trust in his deliverance. (Psalm 78:22)

Two weeks ago, we talked about finding hope during tough times. (You can read the post here.) Hope is a funny thing. With hope, humans can endure some of the most difficult trials. Without hope, even minor set backs can feel overwhelming.

Grabbing hold of hope isn’t easy, especially when you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending torrent, but by staying connected to God, reminding ourselves of who He is and what He’s done, and taking our thoughts captive, hope comes easier.

Lately I’ve been camped out in Psalm 77-78. If you are having a difficult time, I suggest you take a few days to prayerfully meditate over this section of history.

Psalm 77 begins with an honest prayer of desperation. The psalmist cries out to God, expressing a sense of hopelessness.

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (Psalm 77:1-9)

But he doesn’t stay here. Notice his deliberate choice in verses 10-12:

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

The psalmist decides to remember God’s miracles of long ago, to consider His works, and to meditate on His mighty deeds.

In other words, he diligently and persistently took his thoughts captive, replacing negative and anxious thoughts with truth.

He begins by focusing on God’s nature:

Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.

God is holy–without fault or error. God performs miracles. This means He is not limited by our circumstances or understanding. God is powerful, and His power is displayed among us–by His loving, holy hand working through our lives.

The rest of the passage and much of Psalm 78 recalls numerous miracles God has performed.

This prayer appears to be a model of Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4:6-7

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.

I think the key here is praying with thanksgiving. When you’re feeling down or discouraged, counting your blessings can be hard, but doing so reminds us of God’s love, power, and grace.

I know many of you are going through some really tough times. I imagine there are days where just making it through feels like a challenge. Taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ will take strength, perseverance, and determination, but I believe the results will be worth it. When we quiet our anxious thoughts and center them on Christ and His truth, we are better able to hear His Words of guidance and comfort. And when we remember all the times God has shown up for us in the past we are reminded of His power and constant care.

I love the honest emotions revealed in the psalms–the authentic prayers of a heart crying out to God. Today spend a moment meditating on Psalm 77-78. Is there a particular verse that speaks to you? Share it with us and how God used it to guide, strengthen or comfort you.

Psalm 78:22 stuck out to me, especially in the context of the passage.

for they did not believe in God
    or trust in his deliverance.

God had rescued the Israelites from slavery, brought them across the Red Sea, provided water for them from a rock, but when their next difficulty hit, they didn’t believe God could or would come through. Perhaps they saw each trial as something different or maybe they worried He’d changed His mind. Regardless, their actions–and most likely, their angst–were a direct result of their core belief about who God was and what He’d do.

I wonder how often our struggles have the same root cause.

Join us at Living by Grace as we take about grabbing hold of and living in the peace Christ has already provided.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for our in-depth look at the book of James.