How do you Cope? by Pastor Rick Edwards

E. Stanley Jones said that, “The art of living is the least learned of all arts.” In his book entitled “Mastery,” he went on to say this, “Man has learned the art of existing, of getting by somehow with the demands of life, of escaping with half-answers, but he knows little about the art of living with all its demands.”

It’s for sure that most people can’t cope with life – that is for sure. For many people life is a perpetually negative existence. Many people don’t like their families, they don’t like the one they’re married to very well, at least they think they like somebody else better. They don’t like their jobs, they don’t like their income. They live a kind of a situational misery. It doesn’t matter if the situation changes, they seem to remain about as miserable. The reason is that inside; they really don’t know how to live life.

Now everybody’s got problems. Job said, “Man is born into trouble.” The question is not who’s got problems; the question is who’s got victory over problems. That’s the question, who can cope with it?

I believe there are only three ways to handle problems in life, only three ways to live life. You either break out, you get a rash or a panic or you get angry; or you break down, you go inside and silently withdraw and eat your insides out and get all kinds of psychosomatic illnesses; or you break through in victory. You either break out, break down, or break through.

And to breakthrough is the only way to live. That’s the only way, there is no other way. To be really alive to the fullest in the richest sense is to break through the trouble and come out victorious.

Ok Rick, How do you do that? Rejoice Always! Philippians 4:4, says, “Rejoice in the Lord, always.”

You’re saying, Rick, that’s impossible. No, “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say” what? “Rejoice”. You say Rick, “I don’t have anything to rejoice about. It’s easy for you to say, you don’t have my problem.” What did Paul say? Listen up! He wasn’t talking about problems, He said, “Rejoice” what, what are the next three words? “In the Lord.” Paul is saying – I don’t rejoice in my problems either, Paul said, “I have continual sorrow and heaviness of heart for Israel.” I cry a lot. And he said, “I’m sick of my physical infirmity, I’d like God to take it away. But he won’t. I’m not real happy about that either.”

Paul goes on to say, “I can’t honestly say that I just love getting beat up all the time everywhere I go. I mean, from a physical standpoint it’s not really a lot of fun. But I rejoice in the Lord.” That’s Paul’s secret to contentment!

Paul’s secret to contentment is rejoicing in the Lord. I can’t always rejoice in my circumstances. But I can always rejoice in the Lord. I can always find something worthy to praise God for. That’s how the same guy can say; “rejoice always” and the same guy can say “I have continual sorrow and heaviness of heart.” In my circumstances I have sorrow, in my relationship to Jesus, I have constant joy.

So whenever your circumstances get heavy, who do you rejoice in? You rejoice in the Lord and His character? The Apostle Paul is in a jail. That’s bad circumstances. He’s singing, that’s rejoicing in the Lord. You always can rejoice in the Lord. What is interesting is that 70 times in the New Testament we’re told to rejoice.

You know what rejoicing is, its reckless abandonment to Jesus Christ in any circumstance. It’s just constantly saying, “Hey Lord, I’m yours and I don’t understand what’s going on but I’m so glad I belong to you.” “You are worthy to be praised.” That’s rejoicing.
Listen up. Let me give you two things two apply to your life today.

This kind of Christian joy is perpetual.
Why? Because it’s in the Lord, it’s not in the circumstances. It’s in the Lord. And I don’t mean it’s some kind of a crazy grin on your face all the time. I mean it’s the kind of joy that comes because of your relationship to Jesus Christ. Have you ever gone through those times of real sorrow and just begun to turn and put your thoughts on Jesus Christ and all of a sudden sense of joy begins flows in to you. Well that joy is always there. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it never leaves us. We just forget it’s there to easily.

There can be joy in the midst of sorrow. It’s perpetually inward, it abides over the circumstance. It’s not joy because of; it’s joy in spite of. It’s PTLA, praise the Lord anyhow. The circumstance is immaterial.

How do you release Joy? Practice the presence of God.

Philippians 4:5, says, “The Lord is at hand.” Now, what’s the next one? “Be anxious for nothing.” Now stop there. Is he talking about the Second Coming? No. That’s absolutely foreign to the text. There’s nothing in the text about the Second Coming at all. You say, what does it mean, “The Lord is at hand.”

I believe he means this, don’t ever forget the Lord is near, don’t worry about anything. WOW!!! Did you get that? What have you been worried about, the Lord’s right here? What is he saying, practice His presence.

That’s security. What do you have to fear, the Lord is here. God promises that I’ll be a friend that sticks closer than what? Than a brother. Is it true? It sure is. Practice His presence. That is Christ-conscious living. You say, Rick I’d like to live that way, how do you, how do you just constantly have Christ in your mind?

Practicing the presence of Christ is having your mind saturated with His thoughts. And there’s only one way to do that and that’s to study the Word of God. The more you study the Word of God, the more God’s thoughts are in your mind. The more God’s thoughts are in your mind, the more the presence of Christ is in your mind. The more His presence is in your mind, the more secure you are.

Message Excerpt form the upcoming message Entitled, “How Can I Cope” by Pastor Rick Edwards