Summary: The promise of forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus tempers our lives with joy and hope.
The population of this country is 200 million people. 84 million are retired. That leaves 116 million to do the work. There are 75 million in school, which leaves 41 million to do the work. Of this total, there are 22 million employed by the federal government.
That leaves 19 million to do the work. 4 million are in the armed forces, which leaves 15 million to do the work. Take from that total the 14.8 million who work for state and city governments and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 people in the hospital at any given time, leaving 12,000 to do the work. Currently, there are 11,998 people in jail. That leaves just two people to do the work - you and me. And you’re just sitting there listening. No wonder I’m stressed!
Sometimes, we approach life in that way. We feel as if we’re the only ones who count for something, and everything is up to us. And so we get stressed out. Stress takes its toll on us when we especially feel that we’ve lost control of our lives and have no sense of direction. Today, the Holy Spirit alleviates all of that tension. So, DON’T GET STRESSED OUT. 1) The Lord Takes Away Your Fears. 2) He Guards Your Life.
1) The Lord Takes Away Your Fears
Sometimes people get stressed out as they try to de-stress. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in that trap. The concerns of daily life have wound you tighter than a drum – you feel as if you’re going to snap – and so you tell yourself, “unwind and settle down.” In the process, you add more stress because you can’t settle down, so you become even more stressed out over the fact that you’re stressed out.
St. Paul offers a solution: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” “Don’t be anxious.” That’s Paul’s solution. Don’t get stressed out. It sounds as if the apostle is preaching to the proverbial choir. And as we’ve seen in our own lives, just wishing for stress or troubles to stop, doesn’t mean they will stop.
We need to look closely at St. Paul’s words in order to understand what he’s telling us. We’ll notice he tells us to rejoice. A related word would be joy. This is more than happiness. Joy is not some artificial emotion that comes and goes with the ups and downs of life. We can be joyful even when we’re not happy. Christians can be joyful in the midst of troubles or suffering, pain and sadness. The reason is because our joy is based in the Lord. This is where St. Paul found his joy and it’s where we base ours.
What’s the joy that can only be found in the Lord? Well, it’s the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven. What joy there is in knowing that your Savior is concerned about you now and forever! Even when things go badly in this life we can still rejoice because we have a Savior who loves us.
And the love of Jesus alleviates our fears. Let’s face it we get stressed out because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that we might be losing control in over our lives. We get scared that things might go wrong. We fear the unknown. My oldest brother had to go in for surgery this past week. It wasn’t major surgery, but we were concerned about him all the same. I called him the night before his operation and he was “tense” to say the least. He told me that he couldn’t seem to sit still. He was fidgety. His stomach was doing summersaults. And all the while, he kept telling himself, “Calm down! Calm down! Everything will be alright.” Whenever he did that it made him feel worse. He realized he couldn’t calm down. Everything wasn’t all right. My brother realized that he wasn’t in control. And he admitted that he was a bit frightened.
No amount of positive thinking could squelch that fear. That’s when I reminded him of his Savior. I reminded him that the Lord promised to be with him, and that no matter what, God loved him in Christ Jesus. Either way, God would work that surgery out for good. God would either lead him to recovery and give him patience to endure the pain of healing, or the Lord would simply call him home to heaven. In either case, my brother was a winner. God has proven it to be the case. It’s neat how my brother responded to my simple encouragement. He said, “yeah, I just need to take it to God in prayer.” And that’s the truth. Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”