Tag Archives: Stressed

Comfort In Calamity

When I was in high school, my physics teacher gave us an assignment where each of us had to build a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. There were some other specifications it had to meet as well. Then, on the date the assignment was due, he put the bridges to a battery of tests to see how well they held up. One test was a weight test. He kept adding weights to the bridge until it broke. Only one bridge in the class survived this test. The rest all cracked at some point under the weights. On that particular one, the teacher ran out of weights to put on it and it was still standing strong.

The book of Nahum in the Bible is a book of prophesy that spoke of a time of calamity and hard times that were coming. Unlike some other books of prophesy, this one was designed to administer peace in those times. Even the name of the prophet God chose to write the book Nahum has significance to the prophesy. It means comfort. I believe God was telling the readers of this book that no matter how bad things get, He is there to comfort us and give us peace.

Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him” (NLT). I love that first phrase. It’s not a promise, it’s a fact. The Lord is good. He’s also strong. Each of us have a breaking point under the weight of stress, but God doesn’t. He is a strong refuge when we are weighed down. We must learn to trust Him with our burdens and the weights that we carry. Even though at times it feels like we’re alone, He is close to us ready to comfort us in our time of need and able to handle the weight that would crush us.

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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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1 VS. 100

Do you ever get to the point where your problems become overwhelming? There are times and periods in life when I just can’t seem to shake free of a cycle of problems. It depletes my energy and saps my spirit. To stop and look at everything in front of me and see a never ending line of things coming at me can easily leave me feeling depleted. It feels like I’m on that show “1 vs. 100” sometimes, except there’s no cash prize at the end of the line of things I’m facing. What I usually forget during those times is that I’m not facing it alone.

In II Kings 6, the king of Aram was trying to attack Israel, but God kept showing Elisha their plans and Israel averted them. The king was angry and wanted who in his army was the traitor. When someone told him that it was Elisha who was giving away their position and plan, he mobilized his entire army and went to attack Elisha. That next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up and went outside. When he saw an entire army camped against them, he panicked. He was overwhelmed and didn’t know what they would do.

I love Elisha’s response to him in verse 16 when he comes outside and sees the army. He said, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!” (NLT). Then Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes, and he saw an army of horses and chariots of fire. The army didn’t defeat Elisha that day because God was on his side. Elisha remained calm under the pressure of being in a 1 vs.100 type situation because he knew that God was with him. He didn’t panic, but instead trusted.

When facing those insurmountable odds, instead of panicking, we need to remember that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). In those moments when I feel overwhelmed and outnumbered by my problems, my prayer is that God would open my eyes to see He’s on my side. I need to know that I’m not going to be defeated and that God has everything under control. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 vs 100 or 1 vs 1,000,000, when God is on our side, there are more on our side than on theirs!

Photo by Menglong Bao on Unsplash

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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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 cure 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, keep trusting in His plan and resting in His love. Let joy spring up from within you and turn the ashes of what was your life and 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.

Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

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Trusting God’s Character

Psalm 10:1 says, “Lord, you seem so far away when evil is near! Why do you stand so far off as though you don’t care? Why have you hidden yourself when I need you the most?” (TPT) I love how honest David is with God. He says things and asks questions like this that are how we feel at times, but seem too irreverent to think or say. Every one of us have felt the same way this psalm starts off. We’ve wondered where God is and why He isn’t there to rescue us in our time of need. We’ve wondered why we feel alone when our world comes crashing down. It seems sometimes as if God doesn’t care what’s going on. That’s normal to feel that way and God is big enough to handle these tough questions.

In my life, I’ve learned to trust the character of God more than my present circumstances. Yes, they are real and they put serious pressure on me where there seems to be no way out. It’s a lot of sleepless nights and stressful days when I can’t move the mountain bearing down on me. I’ve learned though that God uses those time to produce in me things that can’t be produced any other way. One of my nephews likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” It’s not that God doesn’t care or that He has abandoned you. He is producing something valuable in your life in those times that He can use over and over again for the rest of your life.

My pastor recently said, “Put your trust in who God is, not in your plan for God.” You and I get disappointed when God doesn’t do what we think He should do, but if we focus on who He has always been, we’ll trust Him in hard times. That’s what David reminded himself later in Psalm 10. Verse 17 says, “Lord, you know and understand all the hopes of the humble and will hear their cries and comfort their hearts, helping them all!” God hears your silent prayers and sees your hidden tears during these times. He hasn’t abandoned you. In fact, even though you can’t see it, He’s working everything out for your good.

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Releasing Stress

The unofficial motto of Generation X is, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” We were the first generation to be latch key kids meaning both parents worked. We became self sufficient and took on responsibilities at an early age. We tend to look at situations and jump in if no one else is. We see a job that needs to be done, and we do it. We often take pride in doing things ourselves and in making things happen. That line of thinking extends to when we are stressed or worried too. We try to handle it ourselves because we’ve learned to do everything else alone.

In 1 Peter 5, the author writes about how God resists the proud. Then in verse 7 he writes, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you” (TPT). I was a little confused as I looked for a transition between the two statements and couldn’t find one. That’s when I realized that pride is usually what keeps us from giving our worries, our cares and our stresses to the Lord. We feel like we don’t need any help because we can do it. When we think we don’t need God’s help, that’s a bad thing. When we think we can do it on our own, that’s pride and God resists the proud.

God’s desire is that we live balanced lives. In order to do that, we have to be humble enough to hand things off to Him and leave them with Him. Many of us tell Him about our stresses, but we pick them back up after our prayer and carry them with us. That’s not good for our mind, our body or our spirit. We must trust God enough that we hand off our problems to Him, and we must be willing to not pick them back up. God cares for you enough that He doesn’t want you weighed down by worry or slowed by stress. He’s willing to take those things off of our hands and give us His burden which is light. We just have to be humble enough to make the trade.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Soul Refreshing

Do you ever have those times where you’re spent emotionally, mentally and physically? It often happens when we’ve been worrying, waiting or stressed. You add all that together and it takes a toll on your mind and body. In those times, it doesn’t take much to make you emotional or to overreact to things. It’s human to have those moments, and I think it’s ok that we go through them, but we weren’t designed to live in that state.

When life is piling up and wearing you down, God offers to refresh us and renew us. However, we can’t get that refreshing by focusing on what’s going on in our lives. We get the refreshing from the water of God’s Word. When we put God’s Word into our hearts and minds, then meditate on it, we become refreshed because we start thinking of heavenly things. It gives us a new perspective and allows God to speak into our situation. His Word is an oasis in the deserts of life that we walk through. It’s up to us to stop and take a drink from it in order to be refreshed.

Here are some verses from the Bible on refreshing.

1. Hear my voice according to Your [steadfast] lovingkindness; O LORD, renew and refresh me according to Your ordinances.

PSALM 119:149 AMP

2. I will refresh those who are weary and will satisfy with food everyone who is weak from hunger.

Jeremiah 31:25 GNT

3. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25 NLT

4. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 NIV

5. You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, GOD is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again. But I’m in the very presence of God— oh, how refreshing it is! I’ve made Lord GOD my home. God, I’m telling the world what you do!

Psalm 73:25-28 MSG

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Take A Break (Video)

40 But Martha, overly occupied and too busy, was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me to lend a hand and do her part along with me!
41 But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;
42 There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion, that which is to her advantage, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:40-42

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Finding Rest

Are you exhausted mentally, physically or spiritually? It’s easy to get that way. We have so much going on in our lives today that exhaustion becomes the norm for our lives. We have work, school, relationships, activities and families that require our attention 24/7. It seems we can never escape the stresses we allow ourselves to acquire.

When we finally break free from everything, our mind continues to try to solve problems, plan what’s coming next or think through our next steps. We never get a break and our bodies, minds, spirit and relationships suffer for it. That is a high price to pay for doing what we do.

God wants you to rest and recharge. He understands the pressures of this life. He set the example Himself for us by resting on the 7th day. There are some things found in scripture to help us find that rest that recharges us.

1. Hear His voice

If you are going to allow Him to lead you, you must first be able to hear His voice. Jesus often referred to himself as a shepherd and to us as sheep. He said that His sheep know His voice. That means that we need to be able to quiet all the voices and thoughts that are fighting for our attention and to listen for Him.

Psalm 95:7 says we are the flock under His care. If only we would listen to His voice. We have that ability to hear him, but we don’t make the availability. That is where we fail. Stop today to listen for his voice. He’s calling out to you to take you to a place of rest.

2. Obey His voice

Once we hear His voice, we must then obey it. It’s a two part process. We often hear God speaking to us, but we choose not to obey it because we either don’t like where He is telling us to go or we don’t think we have time to do what He is asking. We allow our minds to overrule what we heard from Him and that keeps us from the rest He promises.

Hebrews 4 talks about how the disobedience of the Israelites kept them from that rest after they left Egypt. They did not obey and did not find rest. God renews that promise of rest to us, but only if we obey His voice. That promise is contingent on us following through on our part.

3. Let Him lead you to it

In one the most quoted chapters of the Bible we find a scripture we pass over. Psalm 23:2 says that He lets me rest in peaceful meadows and He leads me beside peaceful streams. God wants to lead you to those places. He wants to be the one who takes you there. You cannot find fulfilled rest on your own.

We try to find that place through meditation, exercise or getting away. We often fail though at trying to find that rest, but it eludes us. You can get there if you allow Him to have that control to take you to those peaceful streams and quiet meadows. His desire is for you to find that rest.

If you find yourself in need of rest today, I encourage you to stop and listen to his voice. Once you have heard His voice, obey it and allow Him to lead you to that place of rest in your life. Without that rest, you will burn out and sacrifice things in your life that you hold dear. What will you do today to find that place of rest you desperately need?

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Stressed and struggling?

Each of us go through times in our lives when we need help mentally or spiritually. We get crushed under a heavy burden of stress mentally or we struggle spiritually to get an answer from heaven. The nights are long and restless while sleep eludes us. We can’t focus in the daylight because our mind is preoccupied with what we are facing.

Jesus was in such a place before he was crucified. He knew what was coming and what he would endure for us. The stress got to him so much that he sweat drops of blood. The mental pressure that he was under would cause anyone of us to buckle. He was stressed spiritually too. He was about to take on the sins of the world and fight a spiritual battle for the souls of mankind.

During this time, Jesus did 3 things that we can do when we are stressed or struggling.

1. He surrounded himself with friends

The night before his crucifixion, he had dinner with the disciples. The stress of knowing what was coming was all over him, but instead of running away, he surrounded himself with his support group. He knew the importance of friendship in a time of need. They couldn’t stop the crucifixion from happening, but they could be near him.

We tend to seclude ourselves when we need help the most. We break away from our friends and family and get caught up in the stress or struggle. We don’t want to involve anyone else because we don’t want to bother them. Don’t run away from the people who love you most. They are there to support you.

2. He asked others to pray

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said his soul was sad and deeply grieved so much so that he was dying of sorrow. In that moment, he turned to his friends and asked them to pray with him for an hour. He knew the power of having others pray for Him. If the Son of God wasn’t too afraid to ask others to pray for him, you shouldn’t be either.

The Bible tells us to share each others burdens. If others don’t know you are struggling, how will they know to pray for you? It will require you to be open and honest with someone else, but the relief of stress and the support in prayer more than make up for it. Let someone else pray for you and lift you up when you can’t even raise your head to heaven.

3. Someone carried his cross

On the way to Calvary, his body was so tired and worn down that He could not physically go any further under the weight of the cross. They had to get a man named Simon to carry the cross down the road and up the hill. Jesus didn’t have the physical strength to complete the mission, but that didn’t stop him. Another person stepped in to carry the load.

Physical weakness often comes with stress. We can’t be who we are called to be and we can’t do what we are called to do under the weight of stress. Allow someone else to come along and help you carry that load. Yes, it is your cross to bear, but that doesn’t mean that others can’t help you carry it.

Are you under a lot of stress right now? Are you struggling or fighting spiritually? Don’t be too prideful. Surround yourself with friends who can help you, pray with you and carry your cross. Do you know someone who is struggling or fighting? Go be the friend that God wants you to be. Pray for them and help them carry that weight.

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