Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue and why that specific color gives you a feeling of peace when you look at it? Have you ever wondered why the scent of a pine forest or the grass after rain brings calm and refreshing to your spirit? Is there some magical reason why the simple sound of a bird singing makes you feel happy inside?
In a video clip I watched on YouTube some time ago, one of the participants in a panel was talking about a trying time in her life that had led to serious depression. A friend advised her to put together a list of 1,000 reasons for gratitude, so she started keeping track of the good things that came across her path each day, and slowly the tide of negativity turned.
The cares of this life and its many burdens and worries can easily distract you from your close fellowship with Me, and fear of failure can cloud your ability to look to Me and have faith that I hear your prayers and love you and want to bless you. I want to raise you up from your burdens and give you a new start. I want to make you a testimony and a witness of My love.
I am not a fabrication, a figment of the imagination, or a fable. I am real—and I am what you need. I can give you comfort in place of anxiety, faith in place of fear, rest in place of struggle, peace in place of worry, happiness in place of sadness, and answers to your questions. I can be your strength, your help in time of need, your friend and companion. That doesn’t mean you will never have another problem or challenge in life, but I can help you with life’s problems.
Not long ago, I confided to a friend that I felt overwhelmed with stress and anxiety over my work. She suggested that I spend more time meditating on God’s goodness and studying His Word as an antidote. “But I don’t have time!” I protested.
“What do you mean, you don’t have time?” she queried with a twinkle in her eye.
Matthew chapter 7, the last chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, contains a number of succinct statements, which make important points for believers. The focus is on prayer, continued from earlier in the Sermon: not praying like the hypocrites who want to be seen by others1 or like the pagans who babble on, thinking their prayers will be answered if they repeat them over and over;2 but rather praying with the understanding that our Father loves and cares for us.3
Not long ago, some friends of ours wanted to move to another country to explore new work possibilities and be closer to their family. Though they had countless difficulties throughout their preparations, including a last-minute complication at the airport, with the support of friends and the power of prayer, their move was a success. They reached their goal and now are trying their wings on new horizons. I’ve often told my friends and acquaintances who long to travel or live some other dream: put your desires in God’s hands, because He knows your heart and delights to see you happy.
According to legend, there was once an abbey which had a very generous abbot. No beggar was ever turned away, and he gave all he could to the needy. The strange thing was that the more he gave away, the richer the abbey seemed to become.
When the old abbot died, he was replaced by a new one with exactly the opposite nature. One day an elderly man arrived at the monastery, saying that he had stayed there years before, and was seeking shelter again.
Giving is easier to talk about than to do. This is especially true when it involves sacrifice. On the other hand, the Bible shows that God greatly honors this kind of giving.
“Jesus sat down at the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’”1
In the early years of my business activities, I believed that money was everything. When my wife complained that there wasn’t enough love in our marriage, I retorted that love wouldn’t keep food on the table. Since I believed that material things were everything, I didn’t believe in God or His supply.
That changed gradually after I was introduced to the Bible. I started learning about God’s economic plan, which is based on love and sharing—quite different from the “me-first” materialism that had driven me up till then. This helped me readjust my priorities.