November is a tense month in the world of college football. With seasons wrapping up many coaches will be fired, a large amount of them on a day known as Black Monday in our football circles. This part of college coaching is so common that many wives keep a stack of moving boxes in their basements, preparing for their next transition.
The anticipation of being fired can be just as stressful as knowing you will be moving on. In some cases even more so. Imagine walking around for weeks not knowing if the next time your husband calls you, it will be to tell you he no longer has a paycheck coming in.
Stress can lead to dominant emotions of anxiety, frustration, and anger. When we live in seasons of the unknown for extended periods of time science reveals our body physically responds with an increased risk of hypertension as well as sleeplessness, TMJ, and loss of hair. In a season of stress, it can be hard to remember there are many things to still be thankful for.
The apostle Paul experienced seasons of deep stress in his life. At first glance, it might not seem like Paul had a rough life, but in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Paul recounts his journey in his life preaching the gospel:
“in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
I show this list not to shame anyone, but to add perspective to the next passage in Philippians. Paul was tortured and imprisoned, and yet he was still able, while in prison, to remind his friends where their focus should remain.
Philippians 4:4-9 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.”
In the midst of a stressful season, it is gratitude that will dissolve disappointment. It is God who will cover us with his peace and help us to have a deeper perspective. Paul laid out a specific plan of action we can take when a season of transition leads to stress, fear, or feelings of abandonment.
Be anxious for nothing
Pray about everything
Ask with a thankful heart
Guard, your heart, and mind against lies, instead of focusing on God’s words
Focus on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, with good repute, and excellent, worthy of praise.
You might be thinking “Oh sure, it’s simple, just don’t be anxious!” with an incredibly frustrated tone. 🙂 I’ve lived out unknown situations, and I can tell you that when you choose to say, “God I focus on you and nothing else.”, He will cover you with his peace. Paul knew what many needed and still need to learn. Thankfulness adds perspective to any situation and turns our eyes, ears, and heart towards God.