The Joy Killer
NOTE: Today we’re reading Philippians 4 together. That will be that last chapter in this great letter from Paul. Tomorrow we get to start into one of my favorite books, Hebrews!
We’ve all experienced it one way or another. Maybe it was during a time of difficult relationships with friends or family. Perhaps it was a day, or a season of life, when everything just went wrong. It could have been the burdens placed on us by work or school. It can happen in many ways, but it always has the same end result. Lost joy. For each of us, at some point, stress and anxiety have killed our joy.
I’ve seen this happen in two ways. For some, when we get stressed we get going. This is me. If I feel anxious about something, my automatic response is to try to fix it. The problem is, as I try harder and harder to fix everything, I spend less and less time entrusting myself to God. The pace continues to pick up and I lose all sight of my relationship with Jesus and that means I lose my joy. In our culture, people who struggle this way may be celebrated as handling stress well. In fact, I recently said, “I don’t get stressed, I get to work.” What an arrogant statement. I do get stressed. I just take the drug of busyness to distract me from it sometimes.
For others, stress is debilitating. As the load piles up, they shut down. As they shut down, the load of stressors grows. This adds to the burden and they get deeper into their stressed state. They lose their joy as they sit and stare at the overwhelming wieght of their problems. We probably all fit into both of these categories sometimes don’t we? But is this what God intended for us? Struggling under the burdens of life as they crush every last ounce of joy out of our souls? Not according to Paul.
The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:5-7 ESV
You know, the phrase, “The Lord is at hand” by itself could be very good or very bad news. But for those of us who have received the righteousness of God in Jesus, for his blood bought people, it is very good news! Brothers and sisters, in all the stresses of life, the Lord is at hand. Don’t be anxious! He longs to take the burdens off your shoulders and carry the load on your behalf. So cast your anxieties on him right now and enjoy the peace of God that leads to joy.
I got to have a cup of coffee yesterday with a brother in Christ who is 81 years old. He told me testimony after testimony of answered prayers. He told me, “David, people just don’t understand how good God is. So they don’t ask him to take care of them. I just believe deep within my heart that God wants to take care of me, so I’m gonna let him.” That’s a good word from a man who’s spent a lot of time figuring out how to deal with the stresses of life.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
– Luke 12:32 ESV