Bad Moods!

I have 2 children; so most of you know what that means! Even when I get in a slightly bad mood, they let me know! I love them dearly, but they love to remind me how salty I can be and that when I'm grumpy, I'm not fun to be around and that I'd better deal with my attitude. 

We all go through things, we have tragedies, dislike what's going on and sometimes we just wake up in a rotten mood; that's normal! My kids remind me that it's how I respond that's important. My kids remind me that I gotta deal with whatever's going on and that I can't let it linger and hurt others.

The Bible isn't full of people who were always perky and happy. In fact, God used a bunch of men and women who experienced some pretty crazy stuff, got in bad moods, got depressed, got down, got angry and had to respond. They had to ask themselves the same question we have to ask ourselves; how do we not let our bad moods consume us?

I want to look at one guy who simmered in his bad mood; he just couldn't or wouldn't let it go. His name was Jonah. He was a prophet God chose to use. Most of us have heard his story....

God tells him to go to the city of Nineveh and tell them to stop doing evil things. Jonah doesn't want to do it, so he runs away from the Lord. He actually runs in the opposite direction. He was so opposed to the idea, he even hopped on a boat to get as far away as possible. God isn't finished with Jonah yet, so He sends a big storm. In their fear, the people on the boat end up saving themselves by throwing Jonah overboard into the raging waters, and then God sends a huge fish who swallowed him. Jonah lives in the belly of that fish for 3 days and 3 nights, until finally this stubborn man prays and repents and God makes the fish vomit him out onto dry land. 

God comes to Jonah again and says, "Go into Nineveh, tell them that I am going to destroy this great city in 40 days." This time Jonah did what God told him to do, the people heard him, they repented, they changed their ways and sought God's mercy. 

Jonah 3:10 says, "God saw what the people did. He saw that they stopped doing evil. So God changed His mind and did not do what He planned. He did not punish the people."

You would think at this point Jonah would be happy. God had used him, the task was finished, God had shown mercy, he could go home and relax, but instead he got in a real funky mood. Jonah 4:1 says, "Jonah was not happy that God saved the city. Jonah became angry."

He did not like what God had done. He tells God that he ran away, not because he was scared but because of who God is. He was in a bad mood because God is forgiving, kind and full of mercy. Jonah knew the loving character of God, he knew that if the people repented, God would change His mind and not punish them. This makes Jonah so mad that he asks God to kill him, as it's better for him to die than to live. 

God listens and responds with a simple question, "do you think it's right for you to be angry?"

Jonah was so consumed by his anger that he goes out of the city, finds a good location with a good view, makes himself a little shelter, so he can watch to see if God is going to destroy the city. But God isn't finished with Jonah yet; he has a lesson for him. God does some things that only makes his mood worse. It's hot there, so God makes this plant grow overnight to give him shade, but then the next night He sends a worm to destroy that plant, and then to increase the intensity, God makes the sun hotter and the wind stronger. Jonah, sits in the blistering hot sun, getting weaker and weaker, watching the city, hoping God would destroy it! In his exhaustion, Jonah once again begs for God to kill him. 

God asks Jonah again, "do you have the right to be angry just because this plant died?" 

Jonah responds this time by saying, "Yes, it is right for me to be angry! I am angry enough to die!"

Jonah could not get over it. It had consumed him so much that he wanted to die! God tells him "you may stress over this plant, but My concern is the 120000 people living in this city." God tells Jonah that they will receive His compassion and mercy. God wanted to save the people and animals of Nineveh; they were important to Him. He loved them!

For some reason Jonah did not like the Ninevites; he wanted them obliterated from the face of the earth. Maybe it was because of how evil they were? Maybe it was because they'd hurt him and his people? Maybe he was racist? Jonah may have hated them, but he knew God was more powerful and he knew how compassionate God is and that is what set him off; that is what made him angry, that is what put him in a bad mood. This is what often sets us off too. We want God to go one way, but He goes another. God's ways are not our ways, and when He does it His way, there's nothing we can do about it, we can just watch and choose how we respond.

I work in a homeless shelter. I work amongst people who are not where they want to be. They want a home. They want work. They want to be connected with their family. They wish they didn't have their health concerns. They want to be able to pick out their own food. They want privacy. They want things to be different. They have legitimate reasons to be in bad moods, but most of these guys are in far better moods than this salty prophet. They keep their heads held high and don't sink into depression. Every day I am impressed!

There's a saying that goes around Cornerstone I've grown to love; it goes something like this: "There ain't no point in complaining, because even if I do, there's nothing I can do about it!" We all have things in our lives we can't do anything about. We have to learn to adapt. We have to learn to live with it. We have to choose how we'll respond.

These guys at CCO have learned something Jonah struggled to grasp, there's no point simmering in the stress of uncontrollable circumstances. By saying this phrase, they acknowledge not everything's good, but why focus on that and put ourselves into a torture chamber like Jonah did? Life is hard enough without simmering in it. 

The writer of Psalm 46 wrote about how everything was out of control, it's depressing to the naked eye, wars are waged, kingdoms fall and earthquakes happen, and then in verse 10, God says, "Be still, and know that I am God."

This phrase "be still" means stop fighting, stop stressing, stop worrying, stop trying to control what you can't and trust in God, because He is going to do what He sees as best, and there's nothing we can do about it. "Be still" is about finding rest in stressful and painful times by putting our faith in the One who loves us and wants the best for us. "Be still" is believing God's ways aren't our ways, but His ways are always good and right.

Jonah tortured himself because he couldn't "be still". I often torture myself because I can't or refuse to "be still". It's a spiritual battle. I've been through times where I'm in an uncontrollable situation and I'm feeling my life being sucked out of me. Like Jonah, I find myself sulking in misery and justifying my bad mood, and then when I pray, meditate on this verse and hand it over to the Lord, I find the burden being lifted. The circumstances didn't change, but in "being still and knowing God is God", peace is found. 

We all go through times of having bad moods, and there's often good reasons, but God is there and hasn't forgotten about us. He loves us and understands our stress, He doesn't call us to be perky, but He calls us to trust Him, even when we don't understand what's going on, and He will comfort us and give us His peace.

God tells us: "I know what you're going through, but I'm here, trust in Me, be still and know that I am God"
God tells us: "I know you're homeless, I know it's not easy, but I'm here, trust in Me, be still and know that I am God."
God tells us; "I know you heard some news you didn't want to hear, I know that sucks and you don't understand, but I'm here, trust in Me, be still and know that I am God."
God tells us: "I know you're lonely, but I'm here and I love you, trust in Me, be still and know that I am God."
God tells us: "I know exactly what's going on, I know how it makes you feel, I know how painful it is, but I'm here and I love you, trust in Me, be still and know that I am God."

A brief summary of why I wrote this: There's a ministry on the West-side of Chicago called Mission:USA; every Tuesday night they have a Church service called The BRIDGE. Their services are open to everybody, but especially those who find it hard to gel in their local congregations! Or to put into cruder terms; a lot of these men and women are ex-offenders, homeless and low-income folk who have felt ostracized and rejected by many churches, so their mission is to be a bridge between prison, the streets, and the Church. The Bridge helps these wonderful men and women find churches that will welcome them with open arms..... 
And isn't this exactly what the Gospel and the "Kingdom of God" is all about? 

Every Tuesday night, The Bridge has a host team from a Church, who greet the guests and provide a meal. The guests anonymously submit questions about their "walk of faith", and staff from The Bridge pick out a relevant question. Meanwhile, they have invited 3 pastors from 3 different churches to come and give a 10-minute sermon each about this specific question or topic. In my humble opinion, this is a great concept and ministry, who's staff is very loving, compassionate and supportive to the "least of these".
This was a sermon preached on 2/28/2017, in response to this question; Bad Moods

What do I do about getting in a bad mood? Sometimes it’s like I just wake up in a bad mood, and I’m salty with everyone. I do have enough reasons to be in a bad mood, but sometimes I just get in a bad mood for no reason. What’s the deal with that? Is this spiritual warfare? How do I deal with it? Should I expect people to be cool with me being this way? Everyone gets in a bad mood sometimes, right?

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