Tag Archives: distress

Distressed

I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who didn’t go through distressful times. Adam and Eve went through the distress of sinning and hid from God. Moses went through it as he led the children of Israel through the desert. David spent years on the run. All the prophets I can think of had problems. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. On and on it goes. If you’re feeling distressed today, it’s ok. You’re not alone even though it feels like it when we’re going through those times. While your circumstances may be unique, the feelings you’re having have been felt by every person who has lived.

I’ve found that times of distress drive me to my knees. They cause me to cry out to God more than ever. In turn, they push me into a closer relationship with Him. I find that when we blame God for our problems, it has the opposite effect. I like to think of being distressed as having sandpaper smoothing out my rough edges. Yes it hurts while I’m going through it, but i know that in the end I’m going to be changed for the better through the process. God’s desire is to make you more and more into His image, but in order to do that, you must be shaped. Sometimes He uses distress to do that. If you’re distressed now, hold on. Things will get better and you will be better for it.

Here are some Bible verses about distress.

1. When the righteous cry [for help], the LORD hears And rescues them from all their distress and troubles.

PSALMS 34:17 AMP

2. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.

2 Corinthians 7:10 MSG

3. Are there any believers in your fellowship suffering great hardship and distress? Encourage them to pray! Are there happy, cheerful ones among you? Encourage them to sing out their praises!

James (Jacob) 5:13 TPT

4. Set me free from my distress; then in the assembly of your people I will praise you because of your goodness to me.

Psalm 142:7 GNT

5. But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.

Job 36:15 GNT

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Responding To Distress


If you were to take a piece of pottery and a stick of butter into the oven, you’d get two different results. While the pottery would harden, the butter would melt. Even though it’s the same fire, things react differently to it. The same goes for us. Each one of us go through the fires of tribulations and troubles here on earth. Not one of us are exempt from it, but we each respond differently. Even though we have the same physical properties, those fires produce different results in us.

For me, those fires nearly wiped me off the earth. They destroyed everything in my life and left me with nothing. My response was to shut down and check out. I thought, “If I don’t have anything left to live for, why should I live?” Other people who have been through similar fires used it as fuel to get stronger, tougher, and better. They didn’t let it get the best of them. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way when it comes to how you respond to distress in your life except when it comes to your spiritual life.

Fires, tribulation and distress should push us closer to God, not away. Those are really the only two options spiritually. You can run to God and become totally dependent on Him or you can turn your back on Him wondering why He let this happen to you. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “Distress that drives us to God does that (produces all gain, not loss). It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets” (MSG).

In my life, the distress pushed me toward God in the end. It wasn’t until I had nothing left that I told God, “I give up. I can’t do this without you.” That moment sparked a change. Life didn’t get better immediately and not everything was restored right then. It took years, but God has been faithful to me and I don’t regret the pain I went through because it caused me to run back to God. I started off like that butter in the fire, but ended up like the pottery. You can too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not too late to let it push you to God instead of away.

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The Psychological Advantage

I like to think of King David as a warrior. He’s the guy that entire armies were afraid of. When he stepped on to the battlefield, it gave his army the psychological advantage. It boosted his army’s confidence and crushed that of his enemy. But that’s not the complete picture of who David was. When you read the Psalms, you see a guy who was worried and afraid at times. You see the thoughts of that brave warrior written down in black and white saying he was terrified at times.

No one can be brave and strong all the time. No one is impervious to the words that others hurl at us. After a while, they get to us. They penetrate deep into our mind and heart. They start to cause doubt. They can cause paranoia to. That’s where David was in Psalm 31. He said, “I’m in deep, deep trouble again. I’ve cried my eyes out; I feel hollow inside… My troubles have worn me out.” Even the great warrior David had days where he felt insecure and alone.

He didn’t stay like that though. He didn’t let those thoughts dominate his mind and keep him in that state. He knew how to get out of it. Verse 1 gives us his answer to getting free of the mindset that is constantly worries. David said, “I run to you, God; I run for dear life.” He knew that God was his fortress and his cave made of granite that would protect him. In verses 14-18 he says, “Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me.”

Every time the thoughts of insecurity came into his mind, he went back to God. When fear crept in, he called out to God. “Hour by hour,” he said. It wasn’t a daily thing. It was an hourly thing. He knew not to let those thoughts linger in his mind. They’re destructive and counterproductive. They are thoughts meant to pull you away from who you are in Christ. Don’t let them rule your mind. When they pop up, run to God like David did. Call out to Him and speak to who He is.

When we speak to how great our God is, our problems don’t seem so big anymore. When we call out to Him for help, we win the psychological battle. Just like when David stepped onto the battlefield, God steps into our situation and gives us the victory before there is ever a fight. He is our strong tower. He is our defender. He gives us the victory in our hearts, minds and lives. When the enemy hears us call to Him and sees Him co ing to our defense, they know the battle is over. You know the battle is over.

I love how he ends Psalm 31 in verse 24. He says this to you, “Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.” I don’t know of any better words of encouragement than that. When you call out to God, He’ll be on His way to help you. In the mean time, be brave and strong. Don’t give up or let the enemy win the psychological advantage over you before the battle begins. God is on your side today and He’s on His way!

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The Butterfly Effect

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Going through trials is difficult. It’s part of life and especially part of the Christian life. Jesus told us we would have them. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer, take courage, be confident, certain and undaunted for I have overcome the world.” He knew we were going to face difficult times. He faced difficult times Himself. He didn’t want us to be defeated by our problems.

He told us that we should take courage because He overcame. If He was able to, we are able to because His spirit lives within us. We forget that sometimes, especially when we’re in a trial or in distress. We don’t rely on the power that is inside of us to overcome. We worry about the problem instead of focusing on the One who gives us strength to overcome.

I heard it said before that a butterfly won’t be able to fly unless it has that struggle with the cocoon. The difficult battle that it has to emerge from the problem that is wrapped around it is the very thing that will help it to survive once it is free. It can choose to give up in that struggle or it can get gain its strength needed in that struggle. We all have that choice.

We shouldn’t be surprised that life doesn’t always go as planned. We shouldn’t be caught off guard that a person does us wrong. Bad things happen to everyone. We can take courage in our frustrations. We can be confident in our ability to overcome. We can remain undaunted in our mission even though obstacles stand in the way. We can have peace in the storms of life.

Our ability to stand firm in tribulation and to weather the storms of life does not lie in our own strength. If you are trying to stand in your own strength, you will grow tired and weary from the struggle. Zechariah 4:6,7 says, “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says The Lord of hosts. For who are you, O great mountain of human obstacles?” It goes on to say that The Lord will turn that mountain into a plain.

Whatever mountain, struggle, trial, frustration, distress or tribulation you are facing today, The Lord knows about it. He is building strength in you during this time. Don’t give up or quit. You have supernatural power inside of you to overcome. You have the ability to persevere in this time and overcome because He has and He lives in you. Speak to your mountain today. Ask God to make it a plain in front of you. Keep moving forward in His strength today.

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Lord Help!

I love Psalm 107. It talks about people in all kinds of situations and were all at the end of their ropes. He talks of those who were wandering aimlessly, those who were hungry, those who were having difficult times that caused them to live in darkness and gloom, those who have turned from God and rebelled, and those who were enduring a storm longer than they thought it would last. In each case, the people cried out, “Lord help!” And He came to the rescue.

In their cases and in most of our cases, we wait until it is an act of desperation to call out to God. It must be the way he hard wired us. We try to do everything on our own and in our own strength. I’m the first to admit that I’m the same way. I don’t think it’s so I get the glory and not Him. It’s more of an “I can do this” attitude. I don’t need anyone’s help. I got myself in this mess and I’ll get myself out.

Meanwhile, God is patiently waiting for us to call out, “Lord help!” He wants to rescue us. He wants to deliver us. We say, “the Lord is my shepherd,” but we don’t let Him shepherd us. We don’t let Him lead us to the still waters or the green pastures. When we go our own way and fall into distress, He is there looking for us to lead us back to safety. He’s not content to leave us in our situation simply because we’re headstrong and moved away from the pack.

What I’ve never understood about God is how He continues to love me no matter how far or often I move away from the heard. It’s a love I don’t deserve. None of us do. We all do things that get us in the situations listed in this Psalm. There also times where life just happens. There’s nothing we can do about it and don’t feel like we deserve it. Even in those times we have a choice. We can either have a pity party while life continues to rain on us or we can cry out, “Lord help!”

Psalm 145:8 says, “The Lord is close to all who call on Him.” He is waiting for us to call on Him. We often think we’re too far away from Him or done so much that we can never go back. I’ve been there. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to deal with facing those whom I thought I had let down. When I was near my lowest a friend said, “Boy, what are you doing? You need to get your butt back in that church where people know you and love you!” I gave every excuse I could as to why I couldn’t, but none were good enough.

Don’t let pride stand in your way of calling out for the Lord’s help today. Don’t make excuses why you can’t go home. His ear is listening for your voice. His eyes are searching all over for you. Jesus said that He would leave the 99 to find just one. You. You mean the world to Him. Don’t delay. Cry out today, “Lord help!” I promise you that He will come running to you. He will save you and rescue you.

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Victory in your trials

One of the things I love about Jesus is that He didn’t pull any punches in His ministry. He told it like it was. Take for instance John 16:33 where He said, “In this world you will have tribulation and trials and distresses and frustration (AMP).” If He told us ahead of time we were going to experience these things, why are we shocked and upset when they happen? I’ve had my share of these and know there are more on the way as long as I live.

So often when we encounter these in our lives, we ask others to pray for us to be delivered of it. Our immediate response to tribulations, trials, distresses and trouble is to want to get out immediately. If that was God’s desire for them, we would never face them. He uses times like that to grow us, to make us more dependent on Him and to prepare us for something down the road.

Here are some things I’ve found that help me to get the most out of these times.

1. Admit I can’t do it alone

We were not made to go through these times alone. I’ve tried to make it through difficult times by myself and it has never worked. I try and I try, but always fall flat on my face after I get worn out by the stress of it all. It’s only when I come to the realization that I need God’s help that growth truly happens. In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul said that it is when we are weak that He is made strong. We don’t realize our need for dependence on God until those times.

When we think we can do it on our own, our pride grows as a result. I thought it was fitting that Michael Phelps final medal was in a team event. He didn’t get to be the best Olympian ever on his own. He had help along the way. He had a coach to push him beyond what he thought he could do. That’s what God does for us in our difficult times. He pushes us to grow more than we ever thought we could.

2. Trust God

I don’t know what my future holds and chances are, you don’t know yours either. We may have a plan of where we are going, but it doesn’t always end up that way. God has a perfect plan for your life. He knows what you need now to get you where He wants you in the future. Sometimes difficult times are a means to put us back on the right track. He uses road blocks, job losses and dead ends to get us to where we need to be. We have to trust His view of the complete picture of our lives.

Last season I watched a couple of episodes of “Gold Rush Alaska”. In one of the episodes, they took their gold to a refinery at the end of the season. They heated the gold until it melted, they then added borax to the gold and then they let it cool. Once cooled, the gold was covered in black stuff (dross). They hit it with a hammer and all the dross fell off leaving pure gold. When we are walking through the fires of life, God purifies us. It’s not an easy process and it often means that we lose people who are close to us. They, like the dross, may be keeping us from being pure. It may hurt, but it’s for our good.

3. Walk in faith

When hard times come, don’t crumble under the pressure. Keep walking and moving in the right direction. Giving up only prolongs the situation. I know what it’s like to give up when the tribulation seems to have no end. This is not the answer. God sees you where you are and is walking through it with you. He is there every step of the way. You may not be able to see the way out, but He does so you don’t have to.

Victory is found in taking up your cross daily and following Him. It’s in your daily walking out your faith even when you can’t see the next step that you overcome trials. I love how the verse in John 16:33 ends. It says, “Take courage; be confident… I (Jesus) have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.” Your victory has already been won! Keep walking in faith believing in your victory and learn what God has for you in this.

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