The last couple of years, during the pandemic that we have all come through, so many people feel as if they have the weight of the world upon their shoulders. It has affected people in ways that I believe we are yet to fully realize. There are some indications of mental disorders now that are popping up everywhere. From depression to anxiety, from angst to fear, people are really suffering with the way things have been.
But today is a new day. It seems that many have been coming out of their homes in freedom and have decided that even though this has been a rough couple of years, they’re going to live life again. And we should. Life never stopped; people stopped. Life continued; people didn’t. However, the question remains: How do we get back to “normal?” In this post I’d like to offer a few suggestions for our consideration. Of course from my vantage point, I believe that the answers are founded and rooted in the Bible.
First, we need to learn to thank God for what we’ve been through over the last couple of years. Paul the apostle writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Now I know some are thinking that God’s will is not for you if this is the way things are going to be. But it is God’s will for us. We have all sorts of things that happen because of “life” but it’s ultimately God’s will for you to experience what you do. Sometimes things go the way we desire for them to go while at other times they are hard and we don’t want to go through them. But God sees us through both the good and the hard times! Notice I didn’t say the good and “the bad.” I believe we need to change our perspective and see that both the good and the hard things in life will work out for our good. Again, Paul the apostle writes in Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Wow! If “all things work together for good,” this means both the good and the hard “work together for good.” It’s not God being mean to us, or God zapping us, but it is God “causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him.” It is God who has purposed “life” to happen so we can see His handiwork through this journey.
Secondly, Paul writes that we are to pray without ceasing. In order for us to give thanks continually for both the good and the hard, we need to be praying. Prayer is communication with God. However, it is not a one-way street. It takes us learning to listen to His side of things. His perspective is what we need and He sees all things in perfection when our eyes are clouded with circumstances because His eyes are never clouded to our situations. He sees the end result of the good and the hard. He knows how we feel and what we think about the circumstances we face. The ramifications of our decisions are known by God before we can even figure out what they are. He is in tune with what’s happening in our lives because He’s not static but dynamic in our lives. God is concerned for us otherwise He would not be “causing all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Even further, Paul writes in Romans 8:32:
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
God has gone so far as to “deliver His own Son over for us all.” If God did this for us, then how much more “will He not also with Jesus freely give us all things?” It is a resounding “yes!” He gives us all things and works all things together for our good if we love God–both the good and the hard things in life. And what greater thing can we do but to prayerfully give thanks to the Lord for all that He has done, what He is doing, and what He intends to do no matter what is going on around us or in us. It is speaking with Him and then listening for His Word to reach into our psyche and our spirit and our soul. It is giving Him our heart and mind and soul so we can hear Him. And all of this is by faith because of the grace that He has extended to us in Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit.
Finally, Paul tells us to “rejoice always.” Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, 5:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Incredible! He says to “rejoice always” because the “Lord is near.” When in the midst of the hard times, God is near! God is not only near us in the good times but even in the hard times! He is there where you are. He knows what’s happening around you, near you, and in you! When we rejoice in the Lord we have the opportunity to show others our “gentle spirit” because we are at peace knowing the presence of the Lord. It stands to reason that we will be at peace because as Paul says, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Read what else Paul says in Philippians 4:6, 7:
Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Did you see it? We don’t have to be “anxious for nothing” but through “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [we can] let our requests be made known to God.” It means that we don’t have to let one thing affect us to the point that we are halted or stunted, not able to do what God has called us to do because “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” It’s His peace that “surpasses all comprehension” or all of what we may find in our own minds. His peace is what brings the gentleness and peace into our lives. When we “rejoice always” and when we are “anxious for nothing,” then we begin to see how God “guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” It is this peace from God that protects us from the hard times in life. It is this peace that God uses to show us that when we rejoice in Jesus Christ, and when we pray without ceasing, and when we give thanks in everything, then we have the peace of God guarding our hearts and our minds. It is the work of God in us. His work in us then pours out of us to help others through life whether it is good or hard.
These are ideas to release the weight of the world off of our shoulders. What are some other things you might think we can do to let the weight of the world fall off our shoulders? What do you do for self-care that you can suggest to others? Today, who can you help through a hard time?