Long before Twitter, teenagers spoke their own language. Adults didn’t adopt their expressions. But, parents clearly understood their child’s messages. Especially when they were conveyed in grunts or in split syllables (for emphasis).
“What – EVER!” was code for, “I’m not happy about it. But you’re gonna make me do it anyway.”
I confess that secretly I’ve groaned, “Whatever!” to God at times. A publisher’s rejection zapped my contentment before I had a chance seek His peace. A new illness flooded me with fear before I remembered His promises.
My Father waited patiently while I wallowed in frustration. On each occasion, I eventually tired of my disgruntled attitude and turned to Him.
“Father, forgive me for my reaction. I know it’s based on fear. Please help me trust You for this new phase of my life. Remind me that You’re still in control. Strengthen my shield of faith so I, ‘can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Ephesians 6:16).”
Sometimes I’d groan, “Whatever!” when a new round of symptoms would emerge in Chris. They’d warn of more stress, another disruption in life, sleepless nights, and endless tears.
Are you good at sensing more fragile emotions in your child who has mental illness (MI)? Does your motherly intuition serve you well? Can you discern something is wrong even by hearing a subtle change in your child’s voice?
If you’re like me, your first reaction is to brace for “Whatever!” I think that’s a completely normal and understandable response. Knowing what you’ve been through previously, fear or worry might be the only logical emotions. Who would see an emotional storm brewing and say, “Oh goody! Bring it on! I was hoping I’d have another trial to test my faith.”
It helps me to know that Paul, the champion of contentment, didn’t discover God’s peace in one day (as if some apostolic genius). It was a process. Thankfully, he revealed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Paul learned to be content no matter what. The unspoken message is that he didn’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or even the third time. Arriving at contentment was a process. The encouraging news is that we too can gain greater and greater contentment.
How can we become more contented in our situations? Here’s the hard news to swallow: through our trials.
Paul lets us in on his secret. Imagine him holding his pointer finger to his lips and whispering, “S-h-h. Listen up. I know life stinks at times. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
His secret: He learned to trust in God, rather than himself, others, or things.
I find that easier said, than done. My first reaction isn’t worry or fear so much anymore, but it’s often to rely on my own wisdom to figure out a solution. God has proven time and time again to be faithful to His Word. Why is it so hard for me to trust Him sooner, rather than as a last resort?
Thankfully, Paul didn’t stop there in his pep talk to his brothers. He included a word of encouragement saying, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
He knew we’d need a reminder that God will meet all our needs. And that He will supply according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.
“Dear Father, Help me get to a place in my walk with You that I can utter with calmness, ’Whatever.’ I know that circumstances don’t change who You are: my loving Father. Give me an image of You standing beside me as I face any trial. Help me feel Your presence and rely on Your promises. Thank You for Your peace that passes understanding, a perfect peace that protects my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen”
How do you cast your care on Him? Worship songs sometimes help.
Matt Redman sings about a heart that can say, “Whatever.” Part of the lyrics to “10,000 Reasons, Bless the Lord O My Soul” include:
The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes
Use Matt Redman’s song as your prayer to God.
We know that their is a difference between our gut reaction (in the flesh) and our Holy Spirit-inspired reaction. Sometimes, I think it gets easier and more natural to turn to God first the longer I walk in faith with God. Regardless, it never stops being a choice!
I love the phrase you used: “gut reaction”…so often MI stirs up feelings deep down in our gut. Like we’ve been punched in the gut.
You hit on the exact difference: our flesh reaction vs our Spirit-led response. Yes, “It never stops being a choice!” Kinda reminds me of the manna God provided for His people in the wilderness. He wanted them to trust Him each day. While we walk in our MI wilderness, He wants us to trust Him each day.
Thanks for sharing your words which come from your solid walk with the Lord!