Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Thanksgiving is an antidote to fear and depression. Thanksgiving allows your disappointment to attain the higher level of God’s eternal purpose.
The opposite of living a life of rejoicing is becoming hard hearted. Immune from the ability to rejoice, continual focus on trials, without taking the scriptural antidote of thanksgiving, your heart is unguarded.
Depression, Anxiety, Fear!
The Apostle Paul knew this. I understand Paul. In some ways he is like me. I am always reading, always thinking, always having concern for difficulties, and always concerned for the church.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists his trials including shipwreck, beatings, danger from false believers, and concluded his burden list with, “Apart from all these external things, there is daily pressure of concern for all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)
Paul found peace when Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected through your weakness.” After listening to Jesus, Paul concluded:
Therefore, I delight (rejoice, thankful) in weaknesses (distress, difficulties) … for when I am weak then I am strong.” 1 Corinthians 12:1-6
Through thanksgiving, the Apostle Paul placed a guard over his heart against depression. He had peace.
Consider your heart now. Does it spin out of control with anxiety? Are you constantly worried? Has fear become your familiar attitude?
My concern for you and for me – and I believe it was a spiritual battle that the Apostle Paul also fought – is to guard our hearts against both words and thoughts of bitterness.
Dwelling upon fear, anxiety, and anger becomes you! Your character develops from your words and thoughts. It is a hardening. Joy is lost. You perversely begin to enjoy frustration and defeat more than love and victory.
C.S. Lewis, in his children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, had a character named Puddleglum. Puddleglum loves the moodiness of defeat.
He introduces himself:
Puddleglum’s my name. But it doesn’t matter if you forget it. I can always tell you again.
Puddleglum continues the conversation:
“Good morning, guests,” Puddleglum said. “Though when I say good, I don’t mean it won’t probably turn to rain or it might be snow, or fog, or thunder. You didn’t get any sleep, I dare say.”
Then Puddleglum agrees to an adventure with this description:
It stands to reason we’re not likely to get very far on a journey to the North, not at this time of the year, with the winter coming on soon and all. And an early winter too, by the look of things. But you mustn’t let that make you downhearted. Very likely, what with enemies, and mountains, and rivers to cross, and losing our way, and next to nothing to eat, and sore feet, we’ll hardly notice the weather. And if we don’t get far enough to do any good, we may get far enough not to get back in a hurry.”
The Apostle Paul, Pastor Grant, Puddleglum … and You? Names to consider, advice to follow, examples given.
Will you be thankful or a Puddleglum?
I’m being honest. Since reading about Puddleglum many years ago, I watch for Puddleglums. I guard my heart against them as they are infectious.
Even more honest, the Puddleglum spirit becomes so entrenched that it can only be released by the power of Jesus. But the Puddleglum hardheartedness refuses to see a problem, and resists help.
You don’t want this to become you.