I start with an apology to Robert who thinks I use too many country songs for the iPod Devotional Series. I will point out defensively that I have recently featured rock (The Animals and Beatles, inspirational (Casting Crowns) and opera (???). So perhaps I have earned another foray into country. The song is by an artist I have featured in an earlier post. Tracy Lawrence has a simple yet thought provoking song called “As Easy As Our Blessings.” Here is the opening stanza:
Lately I’ve been having more nights that I can’t sleep
Storms of life keep blowing in sometimes it gets so heavy
It drives me to my knees and it’s coming down again
Then a voice inside reminds me of the roof over my head
And my wife and kids are tucked away warmly in their beds
I have written often about Satan’s strategy to rob us of our joy. When we spend our time regretting the past or living in fear of the future we cannot live in peace in the moment. Paul addressed the syndrome in his letter to the church at Philippi.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4 NIV
Perhaps the most insidious tactic of the enemy is to suggest that troubles demonstrate that God is not there or that He has abandoned us. I think one of the dangerous and maybe even deceitful things that Christians communicate is that coming to faith in Jesus will make your life trouble free. Perhaps we should have a warning label with every presentation of the gospel.
Caution – “In this world you will have trouble”. (Read the small print in Mark and John, this truth IS in the brochure)
Coming to faith does not remove the trouble from our lives. Jesus is not a money back guarantee for perfect health, unlimited prosperity, and non-stop giddiness. Trouble is a part of life. Problems refine or ruin us. That is where Jesus comes in.
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. The Message John 16
That is what I have discovered in my journey with Jesus. When life delivers the inevitable I can be assured, deeply at peace, and even unshakable. NBA star Alonzo Manning faced a career ending illness but his response was interesting. “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” I would suggest that adversity introduces a person to their faith. Does it stand up to the hard times? Real faith does. Jesus came to give us real life and to help us get through the risks that living life brings.
Part of that strategy is always taking a step back and remembering all of the blessings that we have in our lives. Tracy Lawrence asks a question that my not be theologically correct but it is thought provoking.
Up in heaven sometimes I wonder if God sits there and listens
To all his children thinking it’d be nice if we’d forget our troubles as easy as our blessings
I doubt that God sits there and thinks how nice it would be if we’d forget our troubles. I suspect He is saddened by our lack of trust in Him. Paul has a prayer about how we can experience the joy and peace that we long to feel.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15, NLT)
Recognize that God is the source of hope and then trust in Him to meet your need. The second stanza of Tracy Lawrence’s song suggests that keeping an up to date accounting of our blessings is another key to joy.
Suddenly I don’t feel like counting what I need
So I start counting what I have when times are at their toughest
My wife still stands by me and my children make me laugh
Then I crawl back in bed and start to think as I lay there
Could it be that he’s already heard and answered all my prayers
The chorus sums it up.
It’d be nice if we’d forget our troubles as easy as our blessings.
Human nature likely makes that impossible. But it is possible to remember the source of our blessings and to remember that God will fill us completely with joy and peace if we trust Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. I know what my friend Mike Thompson would say to that message.
And it will.