“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank God for all God has done… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:6,8
When we are down and in a funk about something, large or small, it is hard to navigate ourselves out to a more positive and hopeful frame of mind. When our minds and hearts are focused on something negative, worrisome, getting out of that mindset is a lot easier said than done. Often friends and supporters of those in this downward spiral have a tendency to say things that are unhelpful; “it’s really not as bad as you think” or “it’s going to get better” or “just put that out of your mind” or the pious Christian, “just give it to God and God will take care of that.” These comments may help some going through such trials but I can tell you with full confidence that they do not help the vast majority going through hard times.
As I have said and written many times it is often less what we say that helps a friend or loved one and more what we do and where we are that has a positive effect. The famous quote by the New York City pastor who said, “A casserole is always better pastoral care than bad theology.” He means that when people put themselves in the place of God and pronounce what is going on in this suffering they run the risk of saying very hurtful things. Better to offer food. I have heard people say, “God must have had a reason to visit this pain on you.” Really! My friends who are atheists tell me these kind of comments were usually what drove them to the assertion there is no God. When people see the hand of God in the care and support they receive from God’s people they experience the love of God in a deep and powerful way.
God wants the Spirit one day at a time: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not for next week. Not for next year. Not for next month. Just one day at a time. Philippians 4 give us some insight to how we lean on God for help in times of trouble. Tell God what your troubles, thank God for the blessings of the day, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”.
“Today’s trouble is enough for today” says Matthew 6:34. Indeed they are! Taking one day at a time allows us to be freed from our instinct to try and solve all of us challenges today. Leaning on God for support “One day at a time” gives us permission to focus on today. It also allows us to experience the blessings of today. I don’t feel guilty enjoying something or someone because of the weight of troubles if I know that I need to take one moment at a time, one day at a time. Getting through such moments and days gives us strength and confidence. God can heal when we free ourselves from the anxiety of next week, next month, and next year.
You don’t have to be thankful for bad things in your life. You don’t have to be thankful for cancer or a car accident or war or abuse. But God says in everything give thanks. Why? Because you know that God is with you always. God gives us a list of things to think about, things that are true, honourable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. One day at a time.