By Gamas Chang
Several years ago my contract employment job was terminated prematurely. It was supposed to be a three year contract but it was terminated only after 1.5 years instead. My family and I immediately prayed about this situation and asked for God’s help and providence. As weeks pass by without any prospect of a new employment, I got worried and fearful about my future. This was the second time I lost my job. The first time, I was still single and my parents could still support me. But this time my parents were already retired and I had my own family now. I worried on how I will be able to provide for my family. I had very few saving, two young children and my wife was not working. I feared for how I would be able to pay for my house mortgage. How will I be able to pay for my family health care needs? Fortunately not long after that God provided me with a new job from one of my old employers.
The difficulties and struggles that I went through were nothing compared to what other people have experienced. Other people have lost their jobs longer than me or was persecuted because of their faith. Other people have lost their loved ones. It is not my intention to compare my difficulties to other people, but simply to point out that trials and tribulation can and will happen in our lives and that they can easily capture us and plunge us into continuous worry or fear. Worry and fear are part of human life even for Christians. While it is normal to have worry and fear, Christians have a remedy for these. Let us look to one of the apostles in the Bible, Saul of Tarsus or better known as Apostle Paul.
The apostle Paul is no stranger to problems and sufferings. In one of his epistle he described in great detail about the sufferings and difficulties that he had gone through:
2 Corinthians 11:23-33
23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
If anyone has the right to brag about his suffering it would be Apostle Paul. Even one of his nicknames was Paul, the suffering Apostle. With all of these great sufferings it is obvious that Paul was constantly living in fear and worry throughout his adult live. Or was he not?
We can look at one of his other epistles that Paul wrote, and it showed that he did not live in constant fear or worry. We can even see that he has actually lived in a constant rejoicing state in Jesus Christ the Lord. We can clearly see this when he wrote his epistle to the congregation in Philippi:
Philippians 4: 4-9:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableâ€”if anything is excellent or praiseworthyâ€”think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in meâ€”put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
It is also important to understand at the time of this writing, Paul was not exactly living a heavenly, trouble free kind of life. At the time of this writing, he was actually in a prison dungeon.
Let us observe these words from Philippians 4 closely. He said “Rejoice in the Lord always and I will say it again: Rejoice!” Does this mean that we should rejoice when we lose our job, when we do not do well in school or when people persecute us? The answer is yes. It is important to read carefully in this verse that we should not rejoice because we lost our job or because we do not do well in school or because people persecute us, but instead, we should Rejoice in the Lord. We should rejoice because of our unchanging and faithful God. Situations in our life may change from good to bad, people may abandon us, bad things can happen in this fallen world, but our Lord Jesus Christ has never changed. He will always be faithful and loving and care for us. We should rejoice because our Lord will deliver us from whatever difficult circumstances we face. In spite of our troubles, we should still rejoice with what we still have in God whether it is family, food or even life itself.
Next let us see what else we should do in Philippians 4:6 we are told to bring our situation to God by prayer and petition and also thanksgiving. Therefore, we should pray to God about our difficulties, about our lost, about our suffering and donâ€™t forget to say thanks to God for listening our prayer and answering our prayer in His time. Sometimes it is hard to say thanks when we our situation is not very good. But this is what God commands us to do when we pray for our deliverance. Â When we do this the peace of God will guard our hearts.
As human when we pray to God about our difficulties and deliverances, we sometimes think that what if God does not want to deliver us or what if God wants us to live a poor miserable ministry life. I have to admit sometimes I feel this way too. Whether or not God will want us to stay in a certain situation of life only God knows. But one thing we should remember is our God is a good God. Our God has no limit in power or resource. Whatever He wills, it will happen. Our God is better, more loving, more capable than our parents. If our parents in this world would run to the rescue in an instance they know that their children are in some kind of trouble how much more will our God in heaven long to rescue us from our suffering.
Next in Philippians 4:8 we are commanded to think whatever is true, noble, right, lovely, admirable. Whatever is true is found in God, in Christ and in God’s Word. Think of the good things which God has done in the past, think of story of God’s deliverance in the Bible, think of the kindness that God has done for your friends or family, think of morally clean things, think of all the words of God which can strengthen your faith such as Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 13:5, think of God characteristics: He is good, faithful, powerful, understands your suffering. In short, focus on God’s truth in the Bible instead of your problems-train yourself to be positive, and remember that as Christian, we are not supposed to play a mind game or imagine things to be positive when they are actually not. We are to focus on the positive truth revealed in the Word of God in the Bible.
Lastly in Philippians 4:9 we are commanded to have a Godly role model. You should find a godly mature role model whether he or she is someone from your family or church, and you should start following in his or her footsteps. A mature and godly person will have a good and positive impact in your life as a Christian and to have a content life just as a negative, immature and ungodly person will have big negative impact in your life. Choose your friends wisely.
In Philippians 4:4-7 when you follow its instruction you will have Peace of God which will guard your heart. But if you follow instruction in all from verse 4 to 9, not only peace of God you will have, but the God of peace Himself will be with you.
May these words bring you worry free, fear free and content Godly attitude in your life.