Tag Archives: stress

Peace In God’s Presence

Peace is something that I think is misunderstood at times. We like to think it’s the opposite of problems and stresses in life, but it’s more than that. It comes from relying on and being in God’s presence during those times. Our enemy wants us to blame God for our problems so that we run from Him and the peace He offers during the chaotic times of life. He knows that when we blame God, and lack peace, chaos can have its way and begin to ruin our relationship with our creator. Thankfully, even in those times, God continues to reach out to us to pull us closer to Him.

In Job 16, Job had been arguing with his friends. They had turned his heart from the worship we saw when the chaos in his life began. Instead of worship, he began to blame. In verse 7 Job says, “But now God has exhausted me. You [O Lord] have destroyed all my family and my household” (AMP). He was still maintaining his innocence, but had began to blame God which led to him questioning God. Thankfully, this book pulls the veil back a bit so that we can see what was really going on so that we can understand it’s not God causing the chaos, even though He may allow it. Like Job ended up doing, we must ultimately draw closer to God when our life gets turned upside down.

Psalm 91:1 has been referred to as our 911. It’s what we’re to do when things happen in our lives that’s more than we can bear. It says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].” Not only will we remain secure when we run to God during the chaotic times of our lives, but we will find rest from the peace He offers. The enemy may be able to touch your body, your family, your job and your way of living, but when you run to God’s presence, he can’t touch your peace. He can’t touch your soul. Trust in God who brings you abundant life while the enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy everything in your life. You’ll find peace and rest that are beyond understanding.

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Don’t Fall Alone

One night I got a call from a friend’s wife. When I answered, I heard, “See if you can talk some sense into him!” I could hear him crying before he grabbed the phone. He was spiraling downhill and couldn’t stop. For days he had not been able to pull out of this depression and it was reaching the point of no return. I grabbed my keys as I kept him talking while I drove to his house. After about an hour of talking, he pulled up out of it. After a few days, he called back to thanks me, but was upset that I was called. I explained that friends aren’t just there in the good times. They’re there to help us when we’re low and can’t break free too.

The Bible is full of friendships, and when we think of them, Jonathan and David too the list. However, one of the friendships that has always stood out tome is Job’s three friends. I know they didn’t give him good advice, but I love that when they heard what he was going through, they showed up. I also love what Job 2:13 says. “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” (NLT). Sometimes you just need someone to be present with you instead of words. People like that, who show up in the most desperate times, save lives without having to say a word. Their presence let’s you know you’re not alone. No words needed.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Don’t let pride stand in your way when you need the presence of a friend. Don’t let your pain or embarrassment keep you from reaching out. Every one of us have low moments in life when we need the help of someone to pull us up. Make sure you take time to identify those people in your life who can help you in the low times. Let them know now that they are the person you will call. They don’t have to have a degree in counseling. They don’t have to have all the answers or the right words. They just need to be present so you don’t fall alone.

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Trust God Anyway

To me, one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of being helpless. When everything seems to be going against me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, there’s a sense of fear and desperation. In those times, all my efforts to help myself, or to get myself out of it, are fruitless. Many times when that happens, the harder I try to get out of the situation, the worse it gets. It’s that feeling where you’re stuck in the mud and the more you push the gas, the worse you get stuck. My feelings and thoughts quickly turn negative, and if I’m not careful, those feelings and thoughts can dictate my actions. We all face times like these, even the heroes of the faith who are in the Bible.

David often found himself in desperation. You can see how his thinking affected him and his actions. In Psalm 28, he’s going through a helpless situation. In verse 1 he prays, “I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die” (NLT). At this point, he’s not even sure God is going to come help. His fear is causing him to doubt just like our fear does to us. If we trust our feelings over our faith, life can feel a roller coaster. Emotions were given to us to help us gauge a situation. They were meant to be what we trust in. They often lie and manipulate us. We must learn to trust God over our emotions and over how they’re making us feel about our situation.

In verse 7, David moves his trust his emotions to God. He reminds himself, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” When we switch where we place our trust, our emotions follow. We need to trust God with all of our heart instead of our emotions. He sees what you’re going through, and He will not abandon you in it. He doesn’t always remove us from the situation or give us the answer we’re hoping for. The question is, will you trust Him anyway? Will you have faith that whatever it is, He can turn it for your good? It’s not easy to do. However, where you place your trust will determine how well you come through it.

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Joy In Pain

In the darkest time of my life, I was so upset and angry I couldn’t eat or sleep for days. In the night, I would lay down, but I couldn’t sleep. As tears rolled down my face, I began to sing a couple of songs I learned as a kid. The first one was “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” and the other one was “Rejoice in the Lord Always”. As depression and bitterness we’re trying to make theirselves at home in my mind, I could only combat them with these songs. I knew that I was in a bad situation and that adding in those two things would make things worse. I tried to remember that God knew what I was going through, even if He wasn’t stopping it, and that joy would give me strength to endure anything.

When I was younger, someone once told me that there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on circumstances so it comes and goes based on my condition. Joy is internal and not based on any external situation. It comes from understanding that no matter what my condition is, I’m still loved by Jesus and there is nothing that can separate me from it. When you learn to look at your life through the lens of Jesus’ love rather than your current circumstances, you learn to have a joy that gives you strength no matter what you’re going through.

Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble” (GNT). God is very much aware of your pain, your suffering, your stressful situation or whatever you’re facing, and He knows how to work it our for your good. Even though you can’t see how anything good can come from it right now, keep trusting in His plan and resting in His love. Let joy spring up from within you and turn the ashes of what used to be, or what could have been, into fertile soil for God to do something new and unexpected. His joy will strengthen you and His love will sustain you through whatever comes your way. Keep trusting in His plan.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Goodbye, Worry

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Time to Refresh

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Releasing Stress

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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The Power Of Praise

When I was a child, I started to learn the power of praise and worship. My earliest recollection of it was hearing the story of King Saul who was tormented by an evil spirit. David would come in, play his harp singing songs of praise to God, and the spirit would leave the king. I remember then hearing the story of Paul and Silas in prison. They had been beaten and were in the deepest, darkest part of the dungeon. In the middle of the night, they began to sing praises to God. The prison shook, the chains fell off and they were free. Then I memorized Ephesians 5:19 where Paul emphasizes to believers that we need to be, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melodies in your heart to the Lord” (KJV).

I know when I’ve had major events in my life, I’ve turned on praise and worship music to help me get through. When I’m stressed out and under emotional pressure, I find a praise and worship station on Pandora. All of a sudden, the atmosphere around me begins to change. My mind shifts from my problems to my savior. There is a powerful thing that happens in those moments as I invite God’s presence into our situation. The thought chains that held my mind captive begin to fall off. The way I see and approach the problems changes as I shift my focus from them to the One who is greater than anything I face. I go from being the victim in the situation to the victor because I take up the weapon of the Word of God and began to fight the unseen battle.

Psalm 71:14 says, “No matter what, I’ll trust in you to help me. Nothing will stop me from praising you to magnify your glory!” (TPT). The writer knew that there will be things that happen to you to try to take your focus off of God. There will be lies spoken and heard internally that tell you God has abandoned you and forgotten you. However, he purposed in his heart that nothing (no lie, no circumstance, no situation or pressure) would keep him from praising God. When we focus our hearts on praise, our faith and trust in God rises. We quit listening to our circumstances and begin to speak into them with the Word of God. Don’t underestimate the power of praise in your life. God isn’t listening to see if you can carry a tune in a bucket, He’s listening to the intent in your heart. Don’t stop praising God no matter what is happening in your life because it will carry you through and break the chains trying to hold you down.

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Controlling Anxious Thoughts

How do you react to stress? I know we all handle it differently. One of the times i was stressed out, i couldn’t sleep. I had so many things going on that i couldn’t control. Those problems started causing other problems and things started to compound. The things I couldn’t control became all I could think about. I couldn’t sleep or eat much because i was so worried about all these things. Then my eye started to twitch, which drove me nuts. I figured I could control that so I went to the eye doctor. After checking out my eyes, he said, “There’s nothing wrong. This is usually a sign of stress. You’re not stressed are you?” I laughed and said, “Just a little.” I loved under that stress for a while because i kept letting my thoughts run wild about all the things I couldn’t control.

I eventually learned that worrying about things I couldn’t control was robbing me of so many things. I realized that i had to focus on what i could control which was my thoughts and spending time with the one who is able to control the things I can’t. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive. That means to stop them in their tracks, interrupt them and get them out. I had to train myself to quit letting them go wherever they wanted and force them into obedience to Christ. They don’t have a right to control me. I have been given authority to control them. Once I realized that, I began to use the Bible as my benchmark of truth against the thoughts. When I held them up to the Bible in comparison to what God says, if they didn’t line up, they had to go.

King David reacted to stress the same way. He let his thoughts get out of control until he was stressed out. He wrote Psalm 94:19 showing he learned to quiet them. He wrote, “Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight” (TPT). Many times, we simply need to get out of the present and into His presence to regain control. I like to turn the tide by turning on praise and worship to get in His presence and to start realigning my thoughts. I can then cast my burdens on the Lord and quit trying to do things in my strength. There are many things He created us to do, but carrying burdens that we can’t control isn’t one of them. We rob ourselves of the peace He offers and rob Him of things that should be on His plate instead of ours. If you’re anxious and overwhelmed today, make time to get into His presence and challenge those anxious thoughts. He offers you peace, calmness and His burdens instead.

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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. 2 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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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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