When the disciples realized that Jesus would soon leave them, He said to them,
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me . . . . I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:1; 18–20)
“Let not” tells me that it is possible to be bound up in troubling issues that should be met by faith, not by an anxious and worried heart — and I have a choice in that matter!
Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)
“Humble yourselves” tells me that pride can be the source of a troubled heart. Instead of letting the circumstances of life put me in fear, I’m to trust the Lord. I also have a choice in that issue!
Job is a good example. When the calamities started in his life . . .
“Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20–22)
Grumbling is a sin. When I whine, I’m showing an attitude that I think God does not know what He is doing; that I know better than God how my world and the world in general should be managed.
Of course unbelief is at the root of worry, anxiety and fear. Jesus points to His Father who cares for me and if I believe what He says, how can I fret?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25–33)
That root of unbelief can produce spouts of covetous, envy, and self-pity. It isn’t easy to be content when blessings seem to be withheld, but contentment can be learned. Paul said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
I learn how to be content by several methods. One is being thankful for what I have. As someone said, if I don’t know what to be thankful for, I just need to take my pulse.
Another method remembering life is short and ‘more and bigger’ is not necessarily better — for me or anyone else. Letting God renew my mind as I read and study His word. He changes my values. God’s values are eternal and I can focus on that rather than the stuff that does not last.
Another application is self-denial that gets involved doing things for others out of my love for God. This is far more important and helpful than self-pity. Besides, freedom from a fearful and anxious heart is far better than anything I could selfishly desire and do for myself.
Jesus, You have blessed me beyond all expectations. I have all I need here and all I need in order to spend eternity with You. You have taught me how to be content and the value of self-denial. You have also given me many opportunities to deny myself and serve others with joy. Thank You!