Thanksgiving vs Stress

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

-Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

At this time of year, things get stressful. We get caught up in papers and tests and projects. We start worrying about finals and all we want is for Thanksgiving break to get here so we can rest for a bit and binge eat turkey and mashed potatoes. Which is great. Except we get so wrapped up in thinking of Thanksgiving as a break from stress that we forget that there is a purpose behind the holiday.

Thanksgiving is for being thankful. It’s about being thankful for what God has given us. All the blessings, both big and small. The last test you did really well on and the unexpectedly warm day after a week of cold and rain. The class that got cancelled and the pretty flower we saw on our way to lunch. It’s about remembering that through all our stress, God is still there and blessing us every day.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and as a way to relieve stress, I encourage you to make a list of at least five things for which you’re thankful. They can be as silly or as serious as you want them to be. For me at this moment, it would warm blankets, good books, bacon cheeseburgers, music, and homemade cookies.

See, now doesn’t it feel good to focus on what’s good?

Have a blessed week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Let Go and Let God

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
-Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Trust is a hard concept. The word trust is thrown around quite often, but most of the world has a hard time dealing with the reality of it. Advertisements on television tell us to trust them that their product is the best on the market. Our best friend tells us to trust them, we’ll love this guy or girl with whom we’re going on a blind date. Our significant other tells us to trust them when he or she says “I love you”.

Yet we get disappointed. The product doesn’t work right. The date is a disaster. The boyfriend cheats on you and skips town. It can be enough to make you never want to trust anyone or anything.

But living like that is hard. It hardens your heart and makes you bitter.

The only person you need to fully trust is God. Trust that God knows what he’s doing. He has a plan for you (Jer. 29:11) and everything that has happened to you will make sense down the road. All you have to do is trust that God will get you there. Because he will.

So instead of looking back and seeing the disappointing things that happened and the people who broke your trust, look back and see all the ways God is shaping you for a better future.

Please and Thank You

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

-Ephesians 1:16 (NIV)

We ask things of God all the time. We want that boy or girl to like us. We want that raise at work. We want to pass the test that we forgot to study for. We begin our prayers with, “God, please help me today with…”

I’m not saying it’s bad that we do this. God wants to help us. It’s important though to remember that, while it’s okay to ask God for things, it’s just as important to thank God for the blessings he’s already poured out on us. Sometimes we get so busy thinking about what we need to keep going, we forget what God has given us to get us to where we are. We forget to thank him for the best friend that listens to us as we go on and on about the cute boy or girl in class. We forget about the extra credit we got on the last quiz that boosted our score up a letter grade. We forget about how pretty the sky looked on the way to class that morning.

Don’t let being forgetful become a habit. Come to God as a child and see the good in everything. Now, what do we say?

And just in case you need some more examples of God’s everyday gifts

Be Still

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

-John 14:27 (NIV)

Peace: a state of tranquillity or serenity.

Doesn’t that sound nice? In the average day, we very seldom see, let alone feel, real peace in our lives. These days it’s hard to find a second where our thoughts aren’t racing ahead to the next thought, the next task, the next item on our endless checklists.

You would think that in a world as busy as the one we live in, searching for peace would be commonplace. Instead, we search for tools to manage our time better. We say it’s so we can squeeze in rest, but we invariably use that time to squeeze in more stuff.

The question, though, is why? We’re obviously exhausted. But faced with the reality of truly stopping, we get scared. We can’t handle the stillness.

That is where God is. True, we can see God in every aspect of life. But only if we slow down long enough to realize it. Only if we slow down enough to let God whisper in our ear. Only if we are quiet long enough to hear him reminding us that we’ll be okay. He won’t let us drown in to-do lists. He’ll handle everything if we let him. Do not be afraid. God’s got this one. And every one after that.