My thoughts (Steve Adams):
A few years ago, I spent a couple of months without a job. My yearly temp job, which I always enjoy, ended the week before Labor Day; and, contrary to previous years, I had nothing lined up to replace it. A lot of closed doors were staring me in the face. To be honest, I learned that my faith wasn’t as strong as I had thought it was. Anxiety started to infiltrate my thinking, often dominating my outlook. And yet, I learned (and relearned) some extremely valuable spiritual lessons during this time of trial. I hope these lessons speak to your heart and will give you hope for dealing with your life challenges.
First, my compassion for those in difficult situations greatly increased. I gained a much greater sense of what others are going through when they deal with a long-term difficult situation, such as unemployment, sickness, or chronic pain. I discovered that, since my life had gone so well for so long, I had lost touch with how difficult it can be for others when big challenges arise.
Second, a friend of mine shared a great quote which helped me a lot. It’s an African proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” I realized I had become a bit sloppy in some spiritual areas of my life when things had gone so well for the previous year or so. After fear started to challenge me, I no longer took spiritual sustenance for granted; instead, I savored each and every word and concept of God with renewed intensity. For example, I started focusing on the truth that present and future situations cannot separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38, 39). Also, I developed the skill of being more strategic; trying to plan ahead wisely, while also finding contentment in each moment for whatever it brings.
One verse in particular came to life: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
I would say it to myself during the day, and the anxiety would evaporate! It was as if the words massaged my mind, relaxing it to the point I could renew my faith.
Finally, I learned that in a tough situation, it’s essential to reach for support. Family, friends, neighbors, fellow church members, small groups, clergy, and work contacts are precious resources. Some of us may need therapists and/or antidepressants or other medications that help our minds function better, so that we can see the true light of God’s love. Often during times of great stress we don’t realize how much God and others really love us, and that God wants us to get any and all the help we need.
By the way, I’m thankful to be able to tell you that, just two days before writing this, God provided me with a job with a good company in the healthcare field which will give me the opportunity to help others; just what I was hoping for.
Thought for the day: It’s really tough to be thankful during hard times; but by accessing the resources that God provides, we can get better at it and refresh our souls in the process.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.