Summary: If we want to live worthwhile lives in difficult times, then we as believers in Christ must anticipate the Father’s grace, imitate the Father’s character, and respect the Father’s judgment and love.
In 1988, Robert Fulghum published his best-selling book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Recently, somebody suggested another book title: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Noah. For example…
• Don’t miss the boat.
• Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
• Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something big.
• Don’t listen to critics; just do the job that needs to be done.
• Build your future on high ground.
• For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
• Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
• When you’re stressed, float a while.
• Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
• No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting. (Source unknown; submitted by Jon Mutchler, Ferndale, Washington; www.PreachingToday.com)
I like that, because it comes from somebody with a positive attitude, and attitude is very important when it comes to facing the storms of life. Warren Wiersbe put it this way: “Outlook determines outcome; attitude determines action.”
So what kind of attitude does it take for me to live the kind of life worth living even with its storms? What outlook do I need not just to weather life’s storms, but to be useful and do something significant with my life in the midst of those storms?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 1, 1 Peter 1, where God through the Apostle Peter gives some advice to a group of believers going through the rough waters of Nero’s persecution.
1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)
If we’re going to live lives worth living today, then we must…
ANTICIPATE GOD’S GRACE TOMORROW.
We must be fully confident of our Heavenly Father’s favor. We must be totally assured of our Lord’s unconditional love and undeserved blessings, all of which He will bring to us when Jesus comes again. In other words, we must be wholly optimistic. We must live life with an eager anticipation of the joys ahead from a Father who loves us unconditionally.
I remember when I was a little boy growing up, my father would make periodic business trips to Huntsville, Alabama, or to Southern California, sometimes for weeks at a time. Those were not always easy times for our family, but when my dad returned home from each trip, he always brought a special gift for each of us, his children. I remember thinking, “Dad’s gone on another trip! I wonder what he will bring me this time when he comes back.” You see, it was the anticipation of those gifts that helped us endure his absence and almost enjoy the fact that he had been away.
In the same way, as we anticipate the grace to be brought to us when Jesus returns, we too can endure and almost enjoy the time He is away. It’s that kind of optimism that will help us live well even in times of stress.
Just a few years ago (2004), Fox News reported on a study that came from the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers studied 1,000 people aged 65-85 trying to determine the importance of a positive attitude in dealing with life. After almost 10 years of follow-up, these researchers found that people who described themselves as optimistic had a 55 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 23 percent lower risk of heart-related death.
The study found that optimistic people tend to be more physically active, drink less, and smoke less. They also cope with stress more effectively. (E. Giltay, Archives of General Psychiatry, November 2004, vol. 61, pp. 1126-1135; www. foxnews.com/story/0,2933,137312,00.html)
Our attitude makes a crucial difference in dealing with life, and we as believers in Christ have every reason to be optimistic. Our future is guaranteed! We have an incorruptible inheritance and the power of God protecting us until we get to glory (1 Peter 1:4-5).
But sometimes our glorious future is hard to see, isn’t it, especially when our days are dark? That’s why, we need to discipline our minds. We need to control our thoughts in order to be optimistic especially when the outlook seems bleak.
Verse 13 says, “Prepare your minds” – literally, gird up the loins of your mind. In Bible days, when a man went to work, he picked up the end of his long robe, pulled it between his legs, and tucked it into his belt. That’s what it means to “gird up your loins,” and that’s the picture we have here of the mental preparation it takes for us to think positively in a world so full of negativity. Today, we might say, “roll up your sleeves for mental action” (Swanson).