Jul 31, 2020

The Difference in Different

The Difference in Different

1 Peter 5:10 ~ "After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever."

I don't know what life challenges you woke up to today but a commonality that you and I share as humans is the assurance that in this life we will face challenges.  You may endure a season flooded with health issues.  You may experience failure and struggles.  You may even be subjected to horrible treatment from someone with an unhealthy heart. 

I'm not sure what Jesus' motive was when He shared that even as Christ followers, we don't get a pass on the troubles of this world. I almost wish He would have considered keeping that nugget of joy to himself.  Taken completely out of context, that statement doesn't stir up any feel-good emotions.

Thank goodness we never have to take scripture out of context to fit a narrative or agenda or message.  In the full context of John 16:33, Jesus kindly shares that we will face trouble, but right before that He prefaces that He's telling us these things so that we will have peace. 

But how in this world can we have peace in a world of troubles?  Well, that's why I love Jesus, He saves the best for last.  Just before dropping the mic, He gives a nod of encouragement and assurance and says, "take heart, I have overcome the world." 

I am so glad that you did Jesus.  So glad. 

The Difference in Different

In 1 Peter 5:10, why did Peter share hope in a similar way?  He removes any sugar coating and let’s you know that you are going to suffer for a little while.  Gee thanks Peter.  But the reason you can be different in such an uncertain world is because God is not just kind, but full of kindness.  That’s not all, He’s going to give you His eternal glory and personally pick you and set you in place.  Cherry on the top is that He will make you stronger than ever. 

So the question is, why is it so hard to be different? There are so many stories  throughout scripture where someone will face bad times, the focus is quickly removed from the hardship and redirected and increased in the hope and assurance that God’s got you.  That’s more than enough reason to be different.

In these trying times, we continue to hear of how so many are falling victim and suffering from overwhelming anxiety and worry.  I have nothing but sympathy and compassion for them because worry, anxiety, PTSD and major depression are part of my story so I’m not standing on the outside looking in on this topic.  I also want to share that I am in no way minimizing or denying the very real hardship when someone must deal with a less than ideal clinical diagnosis that comes with a label that often translates into shame, guilt and feelings of inadequacy.  It’s concerning that many of our God given emotions have become disorders, diagnosis, and debilitating health issues.  It’s important to state that anxiety, worry, sadness, stress and other emotions are God given respondes.  When did they become bad?  What if they never became bad?  What if the problem isn’t in the emotion but how you interpret, experience, and use them?  What if the picture of truth in understanding your ability to manage them and the assurance in God’s promises that you are designed to do just that was repainted at some point? 

The Difference in Different

The difference is believing the truth in scripture and that we can restore the picture of how we deal with our emotions so that it aligns with the scriptures mentioned above.   Are you curious about how to do that?  Great, because I was about to share whether you were ready and willing or not.

To simplify our focus, let’s take a look at anxiety. Anxiety is just an uncomfortable feeling and how we deal with life when you’re uncomfortable.  What steps can we take the moment we begin to feel anxiety?  The answer is so obvious, I feel a little silly like everyone already knows that when anxiety shows up we take steps to get comfortable, relax, chill and breath.  But what’s happening is that when we begin to feel anxious we get tricked into doing that which perpetuates our level of anxiety to the point it becomes debilitating.  

So what are the steps that lead us in the right direction?  The first thing is to remember the truth and power in the scriptures mentioned above and to trust that we can follow the direction of the Word that leads to its promises.  Next, you must identify the source of the person, place, or thing causing the anxiety.  When you are able to own it and name it’s source, that prevents the anxiety from overtaking everything by creating  a separate identity.  If you believe that an emotion, healthy or unhealthy, is just part of who you are and assume you have no power to control it, you have given it permission to control you.  

The Difference in Different

Once you have named your anxiety and began to separate it from you, you now have a choice to make.  Option one - resist it.  If you’re liking option one, I’ll give you a hint by sharing that it usually doesn’t make sense to resist or fight something that God has created to benefit us.  

Option two - react to it.  Another hint, a reaction to an unhealthy emotion is usually just a distraction.  

Option three - avoid it.  This one is tricky because at face value, it seems logical that if we avoid or ignore our anxiety that he must go away eventually.  Yes and no.  Mostly no because the moment we stop actively avoiding it, it comes rushing back with a vengeance. 

Option four - accept it.  (Hint, this is the choice you should go with.)  If accepting your anxiety scares you, I get it but hang with me while I paint this glorious picture of truth that you have control over your emotions.  By accepting it does not mean giving over control, in fact it’s only when we choose to accept something that we actually are the one in control.  

Your next step may be challenging to master but you simply go into observing mode.  That’s right, watch it, study it and begin to witness how watched things change.  The same is true for our thinking.  The moment we stop and observe how we think, they way we think changes.  The more you observe your anxiety, you’ll transition into the last step of giving it permission to be. That’s right, allow it to exist in the knowledge that it is a gift from God given for a purpose.  Once you discover the purpose for the anxiety, you’ll most likely need to set out to mitigate it.  

Through those steps, you transformed overwhelming anxiety back into the gift it is designed to be.  You can take your confidence from the scripture that our focus should be on the promises and not the struggle. 

In Micah Tyler’s song Different, he sings prayers that God will make him different in a world with so many reasons to stay the same.  At the beginning of the song he shares how he faced several life challenges all at once and his response was abundant prayer that God would change the situations.  In a moment of clarity, he shares how he came to understand that sometimes God chooses not to change our circumstances, no matter how horrible or tragic they are.  God often uses less than ideal circumstances to change us and draw us closer to Him.  Having the courage to be the difference in different by accepting the circumstance and leaning into how God might be trying to change your heart is different.  Jesus was very different from anyone else in the way he loved and lived his purpose sacrificially.  

I want to be different.

Walking with you.



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