Roscoe and Arnie were friends for forty-five years. They met at work, played golf together every Saturday, and played poker with a few other guys on Tuesday nights. When they retired, they started playing golf together three times a week.
When Roscoe was diagnosed with colon cancer, he bravely endured chemotherapy and two surgeries before he passed away at age sixty-eight. After the funeral, the minister, who knew both men only casually, said to Arnie, ‘You men have been close friends for two-thirds of your lives. Roscoe must have confided in you about his hope for recovery, his fear of dying, and his remorse at leaving his wife behind.’ ‘Nope, Reverend,’ Arnie replied, wiping the tears from his eyes. ‘We talked about golf, fishing, poker, and work. We didn’t talk about what we were afraid of. We were good friends, Reverend, but we weren’t brothers.’
Unfortunately, many men view their friendships with other men the way Roscoe and Arnie viewed theirs. For them, a friend is someone who enjoys working, fishing, playing golf or racing stock cars with. But the relationship rarely gets much deeper than what they do together. The macho code of mythical masculinity prevents them from revealing their fears, dreams, weaknesses, mistakes, or hurts to each other.
Today’s man would do much better at handling the stresses of life if he had some friends who were more like brothers: men to whom he could bare his soul and still be completely accepted. Do you have a friend like that?
We know more about the spiritual life of David than probably any other person in the Bible. The extensive record of his life and the Psalms he wrote show us that he studied and meditated upon God’s word, he fasted, and that his entire life was yielded to God’s service.
Two things he did stand out to me: he worshiped and he prayed. These spiritual exercises renewed David’s spirit over and over again.
For example, David’s first role in the king’s court was as a musician. His ministry of worship touched Saul’s heart, as it has untold millions of others since David lived. His worship is so powerful because it’s a natural, unforced mixture of David’s heart (when he was up and when he was down) with an unwavering faith in a gracious, almighty God.
His prayers often begin with an honest confession of anger, despair, or frustration. He didn’t hide his feelings from God and he didn’t pretend that he was ‘super-spiritual.’ Spiritual renewal flows from the freedom to be totally honest with God. Psalm 145 is a good example of what I’m talking about. Read Psalm 145 and you will see David’s progression from anxiety and distress to faith filled assurance and confidence.
When you consider the worship and prayer in David’s life, you soon recognize that being someone after God’s own heart doesn’t mean you never fall’it means when you fall, you look to God to restore your spirit, and you fall to your knees in worship and prayer.
Forgiving those who’ve committed wrongs against you doesn’t necessarily guarantee and easier life. You may still have to deal with a difficult boss, wife, in-laws, or kids. You still have to deal with the every day stresses of life. There are pressures beyond your control that will wear you down if you aren’t careful to release them to God. So what can you do?
Our brother in Christ, the apostle Paul, gave us a strategy to help us deal with the troubles of daily life. He wrote: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7).
This verse gives you the image of a guard patrolling your heart and mind. When the guard of prayer is in place it will keep out the pressing anxieties of life. If this guard isn’t in place, pain and worry will result.
What pressures are weighing on you? Are you talking to God about them or are you numbing yourself through things like video games, porn, alcohol, overeating, or overspending? Just as you must continually forgive, you also have to continually release your worries and specific needs to God. He will, in turn, protect you and give you the peace that passes all understanding.