Published On: Tue, Jan 22nd, 2013

How To Be Thankful In Tough Times

What do you do when faced with a situation that seems beyond your control? Perhaps business is not going well, you are facing major financial difficulties, or a personal situation seems to defy resolution. What do you do – worry about it?

The Bible offers some very interesting insight into this and suggests that instead of worrying, we simply should be thankful: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6). Let’s take a closer look at this advice:

1. Don’t worry about anything. Worrying doesn’t change anything. You could call it “stewing without doing.” There is no such thing as a born worrier; worry is a learned response. You probably learned it from your parents. If not, you learned it from your peers, or you learned it from experience. That is good news – the fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned. Jesus says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).

2. Pray about everything. Use the time you would spend worrying by praying instead. If you prayed as much as you worried, you would have a whole lot less to worry about. Some people think God only cares about things such as how many people attend church or how much money we give to religious causes. But God is interested in everything, even car payments and aching joints. He is concerned with every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem that you are facing to God.

3. Thank God in all things. Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion, psychology experts tell us, is not love, but gratitude. Being thankful actually increases your immunities; it makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They are never satisfied; nothing is ever good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, learning to be thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.

4. Think about the right things. If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think. The way you think determines how you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act. So if you want to change your life, you need to change what you are thinking about.

This involves a deliberate, conscious choice where you change the channels of your mind, much like you would change the channels on your TV: You can choose to think about the right things, focus on the positive and on God’s Word. Why should you do this? Because the root cause of stress is the way you choose to think. Think properly and positively and you will minimize the stress in your life.

When we no longer worry, when we pray about everything, when we give thanks, when we focus on the right things, the apostle Paul assures us the result will be, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Adapted from a column by Dr. Rick Warren, the author of numerous books, including the highly acclaimed, The Purpose-Drive Life, which has been translated into many languages and sold throughout the world. It affirms the importance of having a carefully considered, clearly expressed purpose to guide everyday life. He also has written a number of other books, including The Purpose of Christmas.

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