Let’s start today with a little grammar. Please notice the verb (action word) in this verse: “Jesus said, ‘Let not your heart be troubled.’” (John 14:1a, NKJV)
The verb “let” involves the will. It indicates that we get to make a decision. God has given us emotions, and He has given us a will. Those are two separate and distinct departments. Our will is the gift given to us that allows us to choose our attitudes. Although it is hard to take this perspective, it truly is a privilege that God gives us the ability to choose our attitude.
But oftentimes we forget this and we choose to act according to how we feel, which for me leads to chaos and discouragement. You, too?
When Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” He is not saying that nothing scary or bad is going to happen. Instead, He is saying that all kinds of terrifying and hard things are going to happen in this life. He made it very plain to His disciples that they were going to have to suffer a lot, and so will we if we choose to follow Him. But He made it very clear that we are not to let our hearts be distressed.
How in the world are we supposed to do this? In the strength of the Lord and by obedience. He has given us all the choice to obey him.
Let’s together consider this verse:
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NKJV, emphasis mine)
Yet will I rejoice? Really?! There is that little word “will” again. No matter how devastating my economic situation or any other situation may be, I must make the decision to continue to rejoice in the Lord. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that indicate that we must act using our will, not our emotions.
Isn’t this Elisabeth Elliot quote so true? “Choices will continually be necessary and, let us not forget, possible. Obedience to God is always possible. It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them.”
Jesus says, “Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6, NKJV). Now that is a command! Is it possible that when we are anxious, we are being disobedient? Ouch! That thought really hits home for me.
What do we do when we are feeling anxious and worried? We give it to the Lord in prayer and we choose to remember what He has said. He told us, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NKJV). I have this precious verse written on a little card that I have even put in my pocket to have with me on my most anxious day. I read it over and over, asking God to help me know this is true.
What about the feeling of discontentment? In Philippians 4:11, we are instructed to “be content” and Psalm 16:5 says, “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot” (NKJV). You may be thinking, “But I’m not content. I don’t like my situation. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my house. I don’t like my clothes. I don’t like my husband.” And we begin to feel that we are destined to be unhappy because we are surrounded by some very difficult circumstances.
When these feelings arise…
- Turn to the Lord asking Him to help us when we are feeling discontent with our surroundings and frustrated with our life.
- Ask Him to help us to remember to choose contentment.
- Ask Him to open our eyes to our blessings.
I leave you with this story to think about today. Fanny Crosby wrote over eight thousand hymns, many of which are familiar to us, including one of my favorites, “Blessed Assurance.” She was blinded at the age of six weeks by a doctor who made a mistake.
When Fanny was nine years old, she wrote:
“Oh, what a happy soul am I, although I cannot see.
I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot nor I won’t.”
Now that’s what I call choosing your attitude! Today, let’s be like Fanny and accept the privilege of choosing a godly, content, peaceful, and grateful attitude.
Heavenly Father, today I ask you to help me to choose my attitude. Help me to choose to rejoice and not let my heart be troubled. Give me the strength to do these hard things. Help me to remember that You are always with me.
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.