I’ve had to overcome unhealthy patterns, yet some I still struggle in my flesh to stop from reoccurring. One unhealthy habit was that of holding my breath. I learned from a doctor that my breathing was fitful, holding my breath in stressful situations had become the norm. He “awarded” me with a pamphlet and cassette tape to practice calm and controlled breathing techniques. It wasn’t long before I saw results. A smooth rhythm of breathing became natural to me. Regrettably though, learning to breathe correctly didn’t correct how I handled stress, it just repositioned down into my shoulders. So, for this irritating agony I’ve seen a chiropractor who perplexingly remarks every time I see her, “you must carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” I’m not sure my declaration of giving it to God looks promising to her. Or, it must look like I serve a puny God Who lacks the power to rescue me from the clutches of STRESS. An ongoing battle with stress keeps me facedown in the Word of God, while learning how to arm myself with truth that produces peace!
Recently the Lord directed me to the truths found in 1 Peter (4:1-2, NLT) – (1) So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. (2) You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
Knowing that Christ was not only God but man as well, we know He suffered. However, His suffering was not self-inflicted, nor did He have a bad attitude as he suffered. His attitude was a submissive stance to do the will of His Father. Suffering opens our eyes to what’s important and drives us to do God’s will. Christ’s attitude is one for us to follow, knowing we will all suffer in this life and it is often our attitude which makes the difference between what burns up and what remains (1 Corinthians 3:13). As I read further in 1 Peter 4, verse five caught my attention, “but they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge.”
In my last post “Speeding Down the Thoroughfare of 2020,” I pointed out all believers will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ and be judged on what they have done, not for salvation (a free gift), but for the rewards they have earned while living on this earth (2 Corinthians 5). This is exactly what thrills me to the core! I love how one of the principles of hermeneutics (Bible study methods) is that you allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. I LOVE how the Bible reinforces what has been taught throughout the 66 books of God’s Word to man. To know that more than 40 authors (driven along by the Holy Spirit) wrote over a period of some 1400 years keeping the same message is mindboggling. I love how the Word connects from Old to New. It is so exciting to me!
You may be asking why I would write on suffering for Christ when I am trying to leave stress behind; Doesn’t the thought of suffering produce stress? Yet, when we “arm ourselves” with the armor of God we can stand up to our fears and the stress that accompanies it. This passage of Scripture explains since Christ suffered pain (3:18) we are to “Arm ourselves with the same courageous attitude or mind-set Christ had regarding suffering” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary]. Additionally, we see that “to arm ourselves” refers to a soldier putting on armor as in Ephesians 6:13.
I found in Charles Swindoll’s Swindoll’s New Testament Insights this passage of 1 Peter with more encouragement for “arming ourselves” well:
“The Christian needs the heaviest armor he can get, to withstand the attacks of the enemy of his soul. Peter’s point is clear. Christ has not sent us into the world as vacationers on a self-guided tour of a playground, but as soldiers on a tour of duty in a battlefield. We are not called to kick back, relax, take in the scenery, and wait for our Guide to take us home. Rather, we are engaged in a fierce conflict on foreign soil. We need to arm ourselves with spiritual armor to withstand the temptations of this world (Eph. 6:10-18). Peter says if you have been conformed to Christ’s death and resurrection, then the power of sin has been broken (1 Peter 4:1). Because the old person you used to be had died as it were, with Christ, you are now free to live with Christ.”
But listen, that’s not going to happen if we casually sit in our rocking chairs unarmed for battle. For “soldiers on a tour of duty in a battlefield” MUST implement healthy habits into their daily lives.
I remember a fidgeting friend sharing concerns she had over choices her young adult child was making that, in her opinion, were too risky and unsafe. She asserted she did not approve and was actively trying to prevent it from happening. The woman was relying on her own assessment of the situation and didn’t show any sign that God could be trusted with her child. In fact, her stress was driving every part of her reactions. I did not see Jesus’ attitude (1 Peter 4:1) nor that she had opened the door to the will of God (1 Peter 4:2b). She was a woman driven by stresses of life and left to her own calculating! I understood, I sympathized, but I also shared.
Where are you? Has an elephant made his home on your chest? Do you live in paralyzing fear? Arm yourself “as soldiers on a tour of duty in a battlefield” for “we are engaged in a fierce conflict on foreign soil.”