For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 59
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
A 5 Gallon bucket of water weighs approximately 42 pounds. Try carrying a full bucket around and you will quickly be exhausted and the water will slosh on yourself and everyone around you. A 5 Gallon bucket of worries is far heavier. Carrying your bucket of worries and anxieties around will quickly make you exhausted and everyone around you will be sloshed with your tension and stress as well.
Imagine two 5 Gallon buckets. One is labeled “My Bucket” and the other is labeled “Jesus’ Bucket.” Every day, you are faced with stressful situations, anxiety-inducing people, and worrisome potential outcomes. The default response is to put those things; money, job, politics, kids, deadlines, conflicts and worries about the future in our own bucket. The weight of worry soon builds and the stress and tension can spread throughout our souls into our bodies.
Where do you carry your stress? Your neck? Shoulders? Back? Headaches? A general physical heaviness? Difficulty sleeping? Difficulty waking up? Strangely, carrying a 5 Gallon bucket of worries can be more physically exhausting than carrying a literal bucket!
We do ourselves no favors by carrying around our stress each day. Stress can literally change you into an entirely different person, not only physically bringing you pain, but changing your mood and your behavior as well. What Jesus told His disciples, He now tells us, “Do not worry about your life…” (Luke 12:22). Ask yourself this question He asked His disciples 2,000 years ago, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:25). Truthfully, Jesus was putting it mildly. Worry not only has no power to add a single hour to your life, it actually can rob your life of hours, days, months and years. Some scientific studies have concluded that heavy stress can take 2.4 years from your life.
So, if our bucket of stress, worry and anxiety is weighing us down and wearing us out, what do we do with it? When you hear Paul say, “do not be anxious about anything”, do your soul recoil or do you just roll your eyes and shrug your heavy shoulders? Every day peace is possible in the everyday. Our buckets were never meant to carry our problems. As the fisherman-turned-Apostle, Peter once said, “Cast all your anxieties upon Jesus because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 The word “cast” is a fishing term, and it literally means, “throw it out of the boat!” In everything, by prayer and supplication (asking God for something), pour your problems out of your bucket and into Jesus’ bucket. Unload it all; everything… the small and the insurmountable on Jesus. He invites you to do this because He cares for you.
Question: When do you pray?
Answer: Anytime you have anxiety in your bucket.
You may respond to this statement with a tinge of defensive frustration… “But the same thing just keeps showing up!! If I prayed every time I got anxious I would never stop!”
Now you’re getting it! This is the very reason Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Remember, “the Lord is at hand,” He is with you and He is for you! What does it mean to live as if the Lord is at hand? St. Patrick captures this truth beautifully in his prayer that is referred to as St. Patrick’s Breastplate-
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”― Saint Patrick
As we empty our bucket of all stress, worry and anxieties, we simultaneously fill it with gratitude, thanksgiving and rejoicing. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Not only are we supposed to empty ourselves of anxiety but we are also supposed to fill ourselves up with His joy! How do we do that? By filling ourselves up with the promises and blessings of God. Every time we cast our anxieties upon Him, we also choose to fill our hearts with thanksgiving for God’s promises and blessings!
Question: How often should you rejoice?
So, here is the final summation. There are 2 Buckets. One is your bucket, the other is Jesus’ bucket. Put your problems in Jesus’ bucket and God’s praises in your bucket. May your bucket overflow with peace, joy and gratitude, so that all around you are sloshed with the Spirit of God.