Simple blessings

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

Worry and anxiety take a tremendous toll. Our mental and physical energies are squandered as we become saddled with tons and tons of problems. In an age that consciously and subconsciously stresses the material, we cry for more, only to discover that real happiness does not come from the outside, but from within. In this season of celebrating our risen Savior, many are experiencing the holiest of days as the loneliest of days. In the midst of a global pandemic, racial unrest and political division, where can we find genuine happiness?

Each of us knows that person who is always in a good mood and has something positive to say. Their glass is perpetually “half-full,” and seemingly nothing ever gets them down. When we fall into the trap of comparison, it might seem as if their life must be without challenges. Upon closer observation, however, it becomes clear that maintaining a positive mindset requires making the choice to do so every day.

I believe that when we awake each morning, we can choose to be in a good mood …or a bad mood. When faced with adversity, we can choose to be the victim or to learn from the experience. When others begin complaining, we can let their negativity drag us down, or we can choose the positive.

If we are honest with ourselves, we have all experienced days where we stand with our dreams in shambles around our feet; agonizing when our children go astray; wondering about employment and housing; or when the test that comes back from the lab tells us something we don’t want to hear. This happens to the best of us and to those of us who are struggling as well.

It is in these times when we’re tempted to give up or give in; believing God is not ever going to do anything to help us; believing that it’s easier to just pull the covers over our heads and give up. It is easy to believe when life is good, but when it turns sour, our inclination is to feel rejected and guilty.

Jesus’ call for us not to worry about the future is a bold claim. The good news of the Gospel is just that—GOOD news. So when Jesus tells us not to worry, he is not leaving us high and dry. Jesus is calling us to put our trust in him. To trust that he will provide for our every need—the big stuff and the little stuff. All of it.

When things get tough, and they will, we must choose to recommit ourselves to trusting that God has not abandoned us. Especially when there is too much grief, too much pain and too much doubt, and the tendency is to give in to one’s fear and anxiety. Each of us personally must make the choice once more to prepare the way for God. No one can choose for us, and Christ will not come unless preparation is made.

A great deal of life is lived in the middle of trouble. Max Lucado says it this way, “It is said that everyone is either entering, in the middle of or just exiting a trial.”

Easter reminds us that even in our most difficult situations, God is working on our behalf. Not only is Jesus raised from the tomb, but God’s character of light and love is revealed in Jesus. When we are surrounded by uncertainty and anxiety in our circumstances, keep moving. With Jesus, anticipation supplants anxiety. Gladness shatters the ceiling of gloom. Hope replaces helplessness.

The message of Jesus casts out darkness. Friends, in our deepest moments of worry and anxiety, Jesus shows up. When we have given up on our hopes, and abandoned our dreams, as well as cast aside our visions of better days, Jesus arrives on the scene.

May we remember anew that the one in whom we place our trust has achieved the ultimate victory, over death itself.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!

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