Monday, March 20, 2023

Coping Skills

By Andrea Merrell


Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV


My friend brushed away her tears. “I can’t go on like this. I can’t cope with everything that’s going wrong in my life. There’s no peace.”


I could relate as I’m sure many of you can. We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. The cares of this life press in until we feel we can’t possibly make it, and our stress meter reaches a critical level. Then the Enemy convinces us that it’s all our fault, God has abandoned us, and we might as well throw in the proverbial towel.


The apostle Paul faced more cares than most—including many life-threatening situations—yet he gives us three little coping skills that we tend to forget or overlook:

  • Rejoice always.
  • Pray without ceasing.
  • In everything give thanks.

Why are these three admonitions so important? Because “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” His perfect plan. He didn’t promise it would be easy, but He does promise good results.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How can we rejoice when life goes haywire? When the finances are depleted. When the medical report is negative. When relationships are strained. When the world comes crashing in around us and there seems to be no hope. 

We can always rejoice because our joy is not dependent on what is going on around us. Our joy—true joy—comes from the Lord and gives us the strength to endure whatever comes our way.


How can we pray without ceasing? By keeping our heart and mind focused on the Lord and His goodness. By allowing Him to be part of every moment of every day. The Passion translation says, “make your life a prayer.”


And how do we give thanks in every situation? By remembering God’s goodness and faithfulness. By realizing we have been given another opportunity to use our faith—without which it is impossible to please Him. And by developing a grateful heart and placing our hope and trust in the One who loves us and holds our life in His hands. That’s how we walk in peace.


When you're stressed out and can no longer cope, it’s time to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks.

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Monday, March 13, 2023

Ready to Blow

By Andrea Merrell

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses … Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV


When my kids were younger, they probably thought their mother was a powder keg—always ready to blow. I can just imagine them saying to their friends, “Yep, that’s my mom. Blow in, blow up, blow out.”


In my twenties and thirties, anger became my default. I took everything personally and was easily offended. I automatically reacted to the slightest annoyance while struggling to keep my emotions in check. I cried, prayed, and constantly asked for forgiveness. This went on for years, and I could never understand why God didn’t just take the anger away.


Then one day during my quiet time (when I was actually listening instead of doing all the talking), I heard that still, small whisper: You’re choosing to be angry.


Thoughts shot through my head like bottle rockets on the Fourth of July. Excuse me. Choosing? Not me, Lord. I hate being angry. You’ve got to be kidding. But in my heart I knew the answer to my desperate prayers had finally come. The responsibility fell on me, and it was time to choose a different response.


When I was growing up and someone would act in an unbecoming manner, my grandfather would say, “That boy sure has a mind of his own.” Well said, and so true. God gave us a mind and a will, granting us the capacity to make choices. We can make the right ones or live with the consequences of the wrong ones. What a shame when we have to get older before we learn the biblical principle of choosing life and blessings over death and curses.


Since there are no do-overs, I can’t go back and change the past, but many years of walking with the Lord have taught me to make better choices. Am I still tempted to get angry? Definitely. But God has lengthened my fuse, shown me a better way, and I no longer walk around ready to blow.


How about you?

(Photo courtesy of and graur razvan ionut.)


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Give Up the Right to be Right

By Andrea Merrell

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5:21 NLT


It became a stand-off. A battle of wills. Both parties were determined to be right, neither willing to budge a single inch.

Why is it so important for us to win every argument? To come out on top? To prove that we’re right and the other person is wrong?

Early in my marriage, there were many of these stand-offs. Now that I look back on them, I wonder at what expense. If things had not changed, it could have cost us our relationship.

The Bible tells us to submit to one another. The Message says to be courteously reverent to one another. The Passion translation puts it this way: Be supportive of each other in love. Why are we to follow these instructions? Out of reverence for Christ.

Pride can lead us to do and say some very foolish things. Being stubborn and hardheaded might help us win the battle, but we just might lose the war. Relationships are always more important than being the winner—especially our relationship with the Lord. And He’s always right.

If you find yourself constantly butting heads with others, maybe it’s time to give up the right to be right.

(Photo courtesy of and Sira Anamwong.)

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Promise of Things to Come


By Andrea Merrell

Behold, I am coming quickly

Revelation 22:12

It’s a gloomy day in February. As I sit here staring out the window at the wet, brown grass and the bare limbs swaying in the cold breeze, I think about what led up to this moment.

The colors of fall were spectacular and the weather perfect for being outdoors to enjoy God’s glorious creation. Those days led into the Thanksgiving holiday where we stuffed our bellies and spent time with friends and family.

Anticipation built as we looked forward to Christmas. Music filled the air, tree lots popped up on seemingly every corner, and colorful lights could be seen everywhere. It was a wonderful, magical time that filled our hearts with joy.

Then came a brand new year. We celebrated, packed up the Christmas decorations, went back to work, and settled into our ho-hum days. Back to reality. Business as usual.

When Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, the people thought it was over. He had healed the sick and raised the dead. He fed multitudes of people with a young boy’s lunch. He made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem surrounded by shouts of praise and adoration. He did miracle after miracle and made promises of things to come. 

Then He was gone. 

A day of great sadness for those closest to Him, they went back to reality. Business as usual.

But three days later, He fulfilled the greatest of those promises by stepping out of the grave. Now He’s seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting to call us home for all eternity.

When the music fades, the lights go out, and the bright colors disappear, it’s easy to lose heart on gloomy days. But those days are only a promise of things to come. Spring is coming soon … and so is Jesus. 

Are you ready?

Photo by Anna Pavlin on Unsplash

Monday, February 20, 2023

Harboring Resentment


By Andrea Merrell

Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who 

does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.

Love is more important than anything else.

It is what ties everything completely together.

Colossians 3:13-14 CEV

Resentment simmered below the surface like a pot of water. At any moment it could come to a full, rolling boil.

The man tried to hide it, but the resentment he harbored deep inside became obvious in every stressful situation he encountered. And his refusal to deal with it took a toll on him mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually—not to mention his marriage, his job, and all his other relationships.

Walking in forgiveness—the only way to have true peace—means dealing with situations as they arise, not stuffing them down. It’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment process. Dwelling on unresolved problems produces a stronghold that leads to anger and resentment. Eventually, a root of bitterness takes hold, robbing us of the life God wants us to live.

Forgiveness is a choice, and life is too short to harbor resentment—no matter what. Don’t dwell on the past. And don’t hold on to bad feelings. Let them go … quickly.

As the Word says, Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else.

Today is the day. Forgive and move on.

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)