November 4, 2020

Here Is The Shortcut To Peace

Speaker: Bonnie Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  Psalm 16:7

For the person who understands that the circumstances of life are never bigger than God, there is a short‑cut to peace in life.  It is one of the few shortcuts that you will ever experience in life that can save you a lot of pain and turmoil. It is learning the secret of praise and thanksgiving.  “Thanksgiving for what?” you may think?  For the fact that I am so depressed I’m looking up to see the bottom?  Thankful that my job ended when there aren’t many jobs available for people my age?  Thankful that my wife of 18 years left me for another?

I’m not going to just glibly tell you, “Hey, this too shall pass,” trying to make you feel better.  No.  Let’s take a moment and take a hard look at the paradox of giving thanks in time of difficulty.  First: The New Testament suggests that thanksgiving and praise are matters of your will, not your emotions.  When trouble leads to discouragement and discouragement to depression, the last thing that you feel like doing is to look up and praise God for anything, right?  Maybe shake your fist in anger, yes! Sometimes we really feel like that.  Blame God for not intervening, perhaps.  A lot of people do just that.  But praise?  “For what?” we ask ourselves.

The first step in breaking through the gloom of your difficulty is to understand that what you are doing is right, if not necessarily what makes you feel good.  Do it in simple, straightforward obedience to Scripture that says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Second, you will never be so far removed from God that you cannot focus your thoughts on the nature and character of God and say, “Thank you, God, for who you are and what you are.”  Far too much of our relationship with God is experience‑oriented.  We praise God when we feel happy and things are going smoothly.  But in prison, Paul and Silas sang praise to God.  David, the Psalmist, knew what difficulty and trouble were about, yet he said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

No matter how low you feel, no matter what has happened to you, you can yet center your thoughts on the faithfulness of God, upon the fact that He knows your heart and that He will accept you and that His love is not dependent upon your goodness. You can take heart in the fact that the injustices of life are temporary and that someday there will be a final day of reckoning.

Zephaniah, one of the minor prophets of Old Testament days, lived in a period of great turmoil and distress.  To people who were facing their fair share of difficulty, he wrote, “The Lord your God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; you [paraphrased] will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, KJV).

That phrase, “you will rest in His love” is interesting.  Faced with trouble, it is easy to forget that He loves you, so having made the decision to give thanks, begin to quietly do so, knowing His love is an unchanging constant.  You can thank Him that He can still take the fractured, broken pieces of your life and put them together again.  He knows your pain and hurt, and yes, no matter what happens, He is bigger than the need that confronts you.

Praise is the shortcut to peace.  Yes, in every situation, in every circumstance of life, we can still give thanks, for He is worthy of praise. It is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Resource reading: Acts 16:1-40