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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sermon Lessons: Coping

34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
(Matthew 6:34)

There are many life events that we just barely eke by with any semblance of being "all together" at the culmination.  There are others that we seem to simply "sail" through.  Which do you prefer?  I think we'd all say that we want the ones that we can "sail" through opposed to those that give us cause to reconsider!  I once read that we should not borrow from tomorrow what rightfully belongs in tomorrow.  That is the definition of worry in a nutshell - bringing imaginations about the "what if" of tomorrow into the "known" of today.  

The very definition of "coping" is to struggle or deal.  I imagine that we all have days where we are simply "dealing" with stuff - not really rising above it, but muddling through with all the intensity of the moment.  Yet, the definition of coping does not end there.  It goes on to say that we struggle or deal on a "fairly even playing field" or "with some terms of success".  Well, I guess that means we are making it despite the pressure to give in!

The very best definition of coping is the ability to face difficulties with a sense of calm and adequate resources.  We all have different "coping mechanisms" - some of us exercise a little more to "burn off" the stress, while others of us "eat a little more" (a method I don't really recommend as it adds more stress because you now have to exercise a little more!).  The simple truth is that we all have the same resources to "deal" available to us - we just may not realize that they are at our disposal.

The passage today points us to the fact that it is "when things come up" that we get the resources to "deal" with them.  Worry gives us an "uneven" playing field - in other words, the other guy has 10 husky linebackers and we only have one puny one better known as "me".  Worry opens the doors of our minds to the infinite possibilities of rationalization.  We think we are "rationalizing" our way "through" the problem at hand, but we are really bringing all kinds of irrational thought into the mix. 

The truth is that we are all given the capacity to "cope" with life - we just have to realize our capacity and then allow God to exercise his capacity where ours is insufficient.  That is where we come to the place where we are really able to "cope" with life - when God is given freedom to intervene instead of us struggling through on our own.  There is a very "old world" meaning to the word "cope" and it simply means that we come into contact with and encounter something or someone.  What better source of contact can we make than to go to the one who holds our destiny in his hands?

So, if you are holding on by the skin of your teeth, just barely getting through today, take hold of this passage.  First, act on the instructive portion of this passage:  Give your entire attention to what God is doing.  Second, stay focused on the time frame we are directed to:  NOW.  Third, stop "planning" tomorrow while we have things to deal with today.  Fourth, know with a certainty that God will help you!  He does not make promises that he will not keep!  Last, recognize the timing:  It is God's, not ours!