Peace in the Chaos

Life is all over the place. One moment we can be swamped with trouble and doubt, and the next, feeling like you need more action in your life. Stress is the infection that everyone feels at some time or another. It consumes our thoughts and distracts us from the joys in our life. Today I want to share a little thought that has been running through my mind of this idea of stress and the times when we feel chaos all around us. It’s something that I deal with on a daily basis, my brain constantly thinking about the next thing I have to do, or reflecting on some issue that is so small in the grand scheme. Since I know my brain works like this, the chances are very high that yours does as well. I want to do a few things today, I want you to know that you don’t have to worry about your problems, I want you to know that you have the ability to be peaceful in stress, and I want you to discover how to find joy each day.

Philippians 4:6-9 is my lifeline when it comes to life berating me with all its’ got. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” This verse holds the key to overcoming the chaos in your life.

God is bigger than your problems.

If there is one thing I can tell you from experience and know for a fact, it’s that when I try to solve every problem in my life, I fail. God is all powerful and all knowing, so why would I even try to do things by myself? Seems silly for me to try and do that right, but we all do this. Most of us several times during our day. God wants us to come to him with everything, all our problems and struggles, even our happy memories in life. He loves us and is willing to help us in everything we do. We just need to take the first step, we need to start the conversation. Realize that God can do all things, and that he loves you. Put the two together and he will guide you in the chaos.

Dwell on the blessings.

The middle part of the verse tells us to think about things that are life-giving, this is the key to having peace. I rarely think about the possibility of a silver lining when faced with a problem. My mind thinks about every horrible outcome that could possibly come from it, rather than seeing how that situation might be a learning opportunity, or an opportunity to show Christ to another person. When we redirect our focus on the positives in whatever situation we are in, we begin to look at the world the way Christ wants us to. Will we still have disappointment and experience hurt? Sadly, yes, but there is always hope. That whole part about God being bigger than your problems stays true all throughout your life, but again, we have to take hold of it. Remember the things that God has already done in your life and focus on how he will use every situation you are in, even when you are in darkness.

Choose joy.

The final sentiment of the verse shows us that when we think about Christ’s teaching and the blessings he has shown us, we have to choose to put it into practice. So often we want to abide in our misery while surrounding ourselves with others in the same position. Stop that! Stand up for what you know is true, and that truth is that God has given us so much to enjoy! We have to actively choose to be joyful, it is an action that must be done in all situations. When we actively choose joy, we find peace in our chaos.

autumn-rhythm

When writing this, my thoughts were drawn to the painter Jackson Pollock. He is the man who is known for his modern art that is splatter painted. He encompasses this thought, because in his work it always seems to be chaotic, yet he understands that he has created something beautiful. Now we aren’t here to discuss art, I love this theme that runs through many modern artists. Beauty in the abstract, they find peace in the chaos. So, no matter where you are in life or what circumstance you are going through, remember that the ultimate creator of life is making a masterpiece out of you. Step into your life, and choose joy when life gets tough.

I hope you enjoyed todays post, I am so thankful for the response that I have been getting. Thanks for reading! Feel free to check out other posts and share some that you have enjoyed. You all rock.

-Joshua Thomas

All Things

Have you ever had a week where you thought nothing else could get worse and then suddenly it got worse? Well I sure do, it was this past week. It started off pretty normal, then out of nowhere a sucker punch knocked me on my feet. I found out something that happened to someone very dear to me and my family, and for that reason I am choosing to not to share the personal details of the situation. When I found out, nothing really set in, like I was numb to what was being said and explained. My mind began to race, not out of anger, but out of confusion and fear. Why is this happening to me? Why does this happen to the people close to me? What good can come from this? I know of several friends that have been dealing with similar situations, situations that shake reality. Things that make ones heart ache like no pain ever before, my heart aches like it never has before. It feels as if nothing can come out of this, but that isn’t true.

There is hope.

During the past few days one verse has helped me to stay above the waves. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I just kept thinking about this verse over and over in my head, even now as I sit here, it keeps me calm. The thing that makes this verse so real to me is the two words, “all things.” It doesn’t say, in the times of really happy fun times, or in times when it feels like God is so close to me. All things. Times when we feel alone, when we feel hurt, in times when we feel like we can’t take it anymore. When I look at it this way, it changes how I read the verse, “I (Joshua) can make it through this pain and hurt through Christ who strengthens me.” It will look different for everyone who reads it and how it applies to your circumstance, but the truth stands firm.

We have a mighty Father.

A good father cares for his child, our God is a father who loves and wants guide us in life. He wants to equip us and lead us through our darkest times, no matter how bad our situation is, He will give us strength. That’s such and encouraging part of that verse, not only is God with us in all things, but he strengthens us. Alone I don’t feel very strong, but when I trust God, I feel like I could fight a thousand armies and never grow weary. I want you to know that I’m not telling you this because I have it all figured out, trust me, I am telling this to you because it is helping me in a time where I feel weak. Our Father wants us to rely on him, not on our own flesh. Our flesh is weak, but in Him, we are strong.

Good will come.  

This week has been tough and my heart still aches, but I have also seen the good that our Father can bring. I was able to help on a shoot for a Daystar bumper video, I was able to hang out with the family of a student in my small group, I was able to mentor another student, and I was able to pull off a Vert event with the help of a great team. I am surrounded by people who care, people striving after the kingdom, people who showed me love, even when they didn’t know how crazy my life was becoming. My family is finding healing and hope for the future, and never giving up on each other. I am so overwhelmed by how God is moving all around me, and even when I feel hurt, He brings healing and joy. I say all this to encourage you and to tell you that our God is good, in him I forgive, I find joy, and I find restoration of relationships. I wish it was easy and I wish that I could prevent anyone else from being hurt, but I don’t have that power. Our God has that power and no matter what you’re going through, I say this with tears in my eyes because looking silly in Geeksboro, He will keep you strong in all things.

With a thankful heart,

-Joshua Thomas

Staying Calm through the Frustration

Frustration is simply the worst. Recently I have noticed a trend in my life and those close around me that as soon as one begins to gain ground and start making their way, opposition immediately decides to push back. It’s disheartening, it prevents the momentum that was started, and it leads to frustration. Sometimes I just want to scream because it feels as if everything is trying to stop me from moving forward. As we grow in leadership and stand up for what we know God wants of us, people, work, and self-doubt creeps in. It makes us frustrated.

Frustration disconnects us from what God knows we can do.

This often causes us as people to run away or feel hopeless. I know this, because I deal with this on a regular basis. I get started moving towards what I think God wants me to do, then someone makes a disrespectful comment, or I find myself in a situation where I thought I was prepared but end up falling. Life is never easy, if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re probably crazy. Moments like this make me want to quit, to give in during the battle. Sometimes God feels distant, like he left me on my own or that maybe he doesn’t even care at all.

The biggest lie the enemy tells us is that we are alone, and God has left us.

I was talking to my sister today as I talked about the frustrations that I face in my life, the biggest encouragement, was that she has the same feelings. That may at first seem a bit strange that I was encouraged by the fact that we both struggle, but it showed me that all of us as humans will struggle. We aren’t perfect, that’s pretty much the basis for everything that happens in the bible. We are fallen, and we need a savior to make us whole. The enemy likes to tell us that we are alone in our struggles and that everyone else has it figured out. When in actuality, we need to come alongside one another and encourage our brothers and sisters because we all struggle. After talking to my sister we were able to encourage each other and speak life into each other. I’m so thankful for my sister and my family, and as believers we should encourage those who are in our spiritual family.

God has a purpose in our time of frustration.  

As hard as it may sound, God uses our hardship to grow us and help us rely on him for all that we need. How do I know this, well the book of Romans has a clear message about the conflicts and trials we face. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose.” Notice how that verse doesn’t say in some things or in the good times of our lives, it says in all things God works for the good of those who love him. We have been called by God, chosen to accomplish different parts of his vision, and even when we feel alone or like we’re going nowhere, God will use us. When we start looking at hardships through this point of view, it relieves us of frustration and prevents us from sinning in our anger.

When we rely on God for support, encourage fellow believers, and live life viewing hardship as an opportunity, nothing will stop us from building the kingdom of God.

Life will be hard and we may feel like everything is against us, but nothing will get in the way of our relationship with God. The last few verses in Romans 8 capture this idea and set it in stone. Romans 8:37-39 says, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse encouraged me today as I was feeling like I couldn’t make it, like I was failing my vision, yet when we rely on Christ he gives me strength. This verse encouraged me and helped me through my feelings of frustration, giving me peace from my anger, it was what I needed to hear.

I hope that this encourages you, helps you during whatever you may be struggling with. You aren’t alone in this battle, God has put you where you are for a reason. He wants to see you grow and gain wisdom from the hardships you face, nothing will separate you from the love of God.

-Joshua Thomas