A friend of mine would begin this day with, “Happy Friday Brother Mark!” And it is, a happy Friday…but will it be for everyone? This photo is what the day is beginning like here in Atlanta…it’s a beautiful happy Friday. But what if you’ve just been laid off? I started to write this story from the perspective of the person who isn’t hurting financially, and then revised it to those who are, and then I realized that the same principles of scripture apply to both!
You see, yesterday a friend of mine texted me that his wife was laid off. This post is an email to him, I’ll call them John and Jane.
John, thanks for texting me about Jane. I appreciated your words that you, “…have total faith God will provide. We want Him to lead us as He wills…” I know you and Jane, so I know that is what’s in your brain. My concern for you is what’s in your heart? In other words, what are you living? And what will you two live tomorrow? Here’s why I ask this John, there are principles in the Word that tell us how to “live-out” what we say we believe, and that is where the rubber meets the road. So let me just, gently, lay out three principles that you can help Jane with, okay?
The First is WORRY — Psalm 103:19 says, “His throne is above the heavens and He is sovereign over all.” Dr. Stanley has told us at our men’s prayer meetings that when he learned the meaning of this verse, he stopped worrying. He says, that once in awhile something will tweak his brain, but he doesn’t worry. When I speak I like to give an example of a scene in heaven that does NOT occur. God is standing on a cloud looking down onto earth at us, and then He looks closer…and closer…and closer. Then He calls over Michael and Gabriel and He asks, “How did that happen?” John, the principle is that because that scene in heaven NEVER occurs, her getting laid off isn’t an accident, it didn’t catch God by surprise. John, your wife doesn’t need to worry.
The Second is ANXIETY — Did you know that scripture tells us that we do not need to be anxious? In fact, the same passage that tells us this tells us how to receive peace…it gives us a “formula” for receiving peace! Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to “not be anxious about anything,” and of course, to “come to the Lord with prayers and petitions” BUT it adds another attitude that we are to come to the Lord with, when we are leaning towards being anxious. It not only says come to Him with “prayers and petitions,” but with thanksgivings also. That’s right! We are to come to the Lord, being thankful about our situation! In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to the thankful for everything. Why? Because this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you! Now hear me…God is saying that (see above) because Psalm 103:19 is still true, because that scene in heaven does NOT occur, this is NOT an accident to God…the evil one DIDN’T slip one past the God of the universe. What’s the principle? It’s similar to the first. Remember the definition of faith? “Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 in the NIV/1984)? The second principle is to give thanks. You really can give thanks to God for this situation, not because you like it, but because you know (by faith, even though you do not see the future) that He really is in control…you KNOW it!
The Third is the UNKNOWN — When satan “loses” the battle of making Jane anxious, because she will not worry, but will in fact, give thanks to God, he (satan) will come back to her with something like, “that’s all well and good, and Mark may be right that you do not have to worry, but let’s just think about the future, okay? How are you going to pay the mortgage next month, or when your severance runs out? How are you going to buy groceries? You probably want to start thinking about which bills you won’t be able to pay.” Sound familiar? That’s what the evil one does. When he fails in one area he moves into a different area. Let me “up-the-ante” here John. Today is the first day after Jane has been laid off, please, Please, PLEASE, do not let her focus on, “Oh My God! I need to get my resume out in as many places as possible…today!” This is what we tend to do and it is wrong! It is wrong because it is us, our brains, trying to figure out God’s will for our lives, BEFORE we’ve even sought Him. So then the question comes up, “But how will I know if He’s talking to me?” Great question and there are a number of answers in scripture. Let me just focus on one of them…1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace…” (NASB). Here’s the principle…Until you have PERFECT peace, you do not move forward! Here’s why, in Proverbs 21:1 we read that God directs the hearts of kings. If He can direct the hearts of kings, He can direct my heart in spite of any anxiety that may be trying to force itself upon me. Really, this is the essence of trusting God…as opposed to yourself. There is another argument, which usually my, and I say this lovingly, my “control-freak” friends postulate, namely, “I have to get a job so I’ll throw my resume out and let God open the doors He wants.” John, this is just “worry” and “anxiety” in a different form. Let me say this properly. This is NOT trusting God, rather, it is us saying, “I don’t trust God enough so I’m going to help Him.” Here’s why I make this point. Too many times God opens doors, NOT for us to go through but TO TEST US. To see if we will go through a door because WE WANT TO rather than the door He wants us too. Remember the principle, “No peace, no move!”
Interesting isn’t it, all three of the principles above lead us to peace…or focus on peace. Is that an accident? I don’t think so, you see, the third peace of the armor, “your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (NIV/1984) tells us that Jane can go through this time in her life with peace. Because she has accepted the Gospel of Christ, she can go through this time in peace…believe it or not! And that, my friend, is your role…helping her, by lovingly showing her these principles, to go through this time in peace. As you and her do this, it will actually be an exciting time! Where you two see God move, showing Himself faithful to you. That’s what He wants to do. That’s what He always wants to do, but we mess it up by worrying, getting anxious, focusing on the unknown, and God is sitting there saying, “Trust me…” (Psalm 143:8)
I love you my friend. I hope this is helpful.
For those of you that are interested, we have the following tools:
Prayers from Psalm 119 and prayers from the Book of James
GBC Prayer Initiative and our weekly prayers
Daily Radio Spots
And of course my new book
In His Name, with great thanksgivings,
Mark S Mirza