May 28, 2009
The first thing we need to do to deal with a trial successfully-and I guarantee that you probably won’t feel like doing it-is to make ourselves pray. We need to follow Philippians 4:6-7: “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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
In the first part of this Scripture Paul says, “Don’t be anxious!” But what’s the first thing we do when a trial hits? We become anxious. We worry, and we ask ourselves, How’s this ever going to work out? I just can’t see how God can come through this time! I don’t know if I’ll make it. The more anxious we feel, the more we worry, and the more we worry, the more anxious we feel. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t do us any good. It doesn’t solve anything, either!
Instead of feeling anxious, wouldn’t it be amazing to have the peace of God guarding your heart and mind? You can have that peace even in the middle of a trial, because that’s what happens when you pray in faith. Bring your requests to God with a thankful, trusting heart-then the peace of God can come in.
A thankful heart, you might think? Who’s crazy enough to be thankful for a trial? Nobody I know! But Paul didn’t mean we should be thankful for everything-he meant we should be thankful in everything. There’s a difference.
Nobody is thankful for someone they love getting sick or for something they’ve worked for falling apart or for some huge financial problem coming their way. As a believer, though, you can be thankful in the middle of any of these things-even if what you’re facing is the worst trial of your life.
I always underline, circle, and highlight the words “with thanksgiving” in Philippians 4:6 to remind myself that no matter what I face, I can be thankful in it. I’m thankful that when I endure, I learn how to be strong and draw closer to God. In spite of facing the worst of trials, you and I can pray, “Lord, thank You that Your Word is true and that You are more than enough to get me through this (Ephesians 3:20). Thank You that You always lead me in triumph, that You make me more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), and that I’m the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). Thank You for the things You’re teaching me about how to deal with major challenges!”
Trials are a great time to know who you are in Christ. Knowing who you are in Christ helps you be able to give thanks even in a bad spot. Because of who I am in Christ, I know that trials are places I go through, not places I set up camp. I know that trials are temporary. And I know that God will lead me into a better place beyond the trial than the place I was in before it came. But first, I need to make myself pray. I need to deal with the trial correctly, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving.
Cast Your Cares and Cut the Line
First Peter 5:7 is a great Scripture to follow when you’re praying in a trial. It says you ought to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (italics added). The first instance of the word care here comes from a Greek word meaning all your worries, all your anxieties, and all your fears. Cast all of those onto the Lord, for He cares for you. That second cares is from a different Greek word that means to tend to or minister to, the way a doctor or nurse cares for a patient. Patients who can’t take care of themselves need a doctor or a nurse to help them. The doctor or nurse tends to them and tries to get them back to a place where they are healed and can function well again. Another example would be if you were carrying a heavy load and you were able to cast that load onto a horse or a mule. Then you wouldn’t be carrying it anymore.
That’s exactly what God wants to do for you. At the time of trial, He says, “Don’t worry, I’m here. I’m your Great Physician. I’m the One who will tend to your needs. Whatever your struggle, give it to Me and I’ll minister to you.” When you follow 1 Peter 5:7, strength comes into your life because strength comes from the Lord. God will “grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).
You can be honest with God when you pray. Tell Him how you feel. I’ve done that. I’ve prayed, “Lord, this trial…it’s got my emotions. It’s got my mind, and it’s got me worried. I don’t know what to do! But Lord, I give it to You because I need Your direction. I need Your help.” I’ve had to truly give my emotions over to Him before I could start to pray with thanksgiving, “Lord, I thank You that You’re going to help me and You’re going to speak to me because Your sheep hear Your voice.”
Truly give it all over to Him-be gut-level honest about your worries, anxieties, and fears. Once you do that, the Lord can minister to you. He’ll strengthen you, give you wisdom and guidance, and guard your heart and mind with peace.
You don’t want to hang on to things and try to work them out all by yourself, without giving them to the Lord. If you do that in a trial, then you’re on your own without God’s help or peace. You’ll have plenty of care and anxiety to keep you company, but they are poor company to keep! Better to cast them off, as 1 Peter 5:7 says.
The Greek word for cast in that verse means to literally throw off. Casting is not gently tossing something aside-it’s throwing that thing as far away as you possibly can. That’s the literal meaning of casting your cares onto the Lord-throwing them as far away from yourself as you can and letting God handle them.
Casting your cares can be hard because your mind wants to keep reeling those suckers back in. Your mind wants to keep dwelling on them, and the devil wants you to keep stressing over them. You need to just get rid of them once and for all! How do you do that? Practice your casting technique. It’s not automatic. It’s part of our human sin nature to worry, become anxious, and dwell on the negative, but you need to train yourself to cast your cares onto the Lord and leave them there.
Have you ever watched anybody learn to cast a fishing line? They toss the line out a little way, then reel it back in, then toss it out a little farther, then reel it back in, over and over again. Eventually, if they stick with it, they become experienced fishermen who can throw a line halfway across the river and place it just where they want it on the first cast. Then they can leave it there, in the perfect spot, without having to cast over and over again.
You need to practice the same technique, mentally casting your cares off, onto the Lord, and then leaving them there, in the perfect spot for them. With practice, you’ll become experienced enough that you’ll deal with your anxieties this way every time you face a trial. And once you’ve got it down, take it a step farther than the fishermen. Cut your line and let those cares float on downstream without you! Then you won’t be tempted to reel them back in again.
Capture Your Thoughts
Practice 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says we should be “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Whenever a thought like, I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this, crosses your mind, take it captive to the obedience of Christ. Renew your mind by replacing your thoughts with God’s thoughts. In every trial ask yourself, What does God’s Word say about this situation?
You already know several things His Word says: Be anxious for nothing, present your requests with thanksgiving (make yourself pray!), cast all your cares on the Lord, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. By doing these things, you’ll establish the mental focus you’ll need for the duration of the trial.
Make a commitment to follow these words from the Word and whatever else God shows you. Decide that these thoughts-God’s thoughts-are the only thoughts you’ll dwell on in regard to your trial. Remember, “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
Excerpt from Pastor Paul’s book titled “Deal With It, When Life Deals You a Bad Hand – Play to Win!”