Where Did You Take Your Stress in 2020? - Encouragement for Today - December 2, 2020

Wendy SpeakeDecember 2, 2020

Where Did You Take Your Stress in 2020?
WENDY SPEAKE

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV) 

I’ve heard it said that banana bread was the official food of quarantine, and part of the reason many of us gained “the COVID-19.” We turned to comfort foods rather than the Comforter. Likewise, Amazon Prime helped us deal with our stress online. From retail therapy to streaming distractions, we self-medicated our way through a very hard year.

Jesus knew our tendency to take our stress to false-fillers and false gods. That’s why He invited us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

This year wasn’t the first time I found myself turning to something other than God for comfort. In 2014, I was struggling as a young mom. My emotions were all over the place, and I kept turning to the pantry to get me through my days. I could see the way my children crashed after eating candy and knew I was crashing multiple times each day as well. So, I reached out to my friends on Facebook to see if anyone would join me in a 40-day sugar fast, and the response was overwhelming.

There’s something about sugar that has a grip on us, and we know it. We run to it for our comfort and our reward. We turn to it in boredom. We depend on it when life is stressful. We crave it when we’re depressed and use it as confectionary therapy. And even when life is at its best, we celebrate with cake.

My sugar addiction was only exacerbating my problems, not alleviating them. I was up and down on an emotional rollercoaster. I was gaining weight, my muscles and joints were always hurting, and my sleep was fitful. I was grumpy, tired and continued to be impatient with my kids and my husband. Sadly, sugar wasn’t making me sweet.

I didn’t need any more conviction; what I needed was transformation. I needed more than a diet; I needed something deep within me to change.

You see, my problem wasn’t merely physical, emotional or relational. At the core, my struggle was spiritual. I didn’t have a sugar problem … I had a God problem. I was running from sugar high to sugar high to get me through my days instead of running to the Most High.

Perhaps sugar isn’t your vice, but maybe your phone is. You reach for it when you’re weary and stressed. Instead of bringing your heavy load to the One who made the world, you turn to everyone in the world on the web. Or maybe retail therapy is where you run — not because you have an empty shelf but because you suffer from an empty self.

You see, the issue isn’t our highly sugared lattes, mindless scrolling or online shopping … our issue is that we’ve stopped taking our burdens to God. But the more we turn to other things, the less we find what we need.

Given the stress we’ve experienced this year, I think we could all benefit from a radical pivot. Turning away from that thing we’ve been running to, in order to return to the One who said, “Come to me.” That’s exactly what fasting is: setting down something temporary and ordinary to return to the One who is eternally extraordinary.

What would happen if you laid down everything you’ve been turning to and started this next year with your eyes on Him?

It was never banana bread’s job to comfort us during these “unprecedented” times. It was never coffee’s job to give us the strength to get through 2020, or social media’s job to meet our deepest social needs when we’re social-distancing. It was never food’s job to fill the holes and make us whole. Only Jesus can make us whole … and holy. And only by taking our heavy load to Jesus can we finally find the rest and help we’ve been craving.

Dear Lord, nothing has worked to set me free from the compulsive way I turn to other things when I could be turning to You. I need more of You and less of the stuff that leaves me hungry. Take all these heavy idols I’m laying down and teach me to lean into Your gentle refining. Take my life as I empty it out and fill me with Yourself. Your Word proclaims: “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free” (Galatians 5:1, NIV). I’m choosing to believe that’s true. Set me free! In the bondage-breaking, freedom-giving, sweet name of Jesus, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (ESV)

Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Join the next annual 40-Day Sugar Fast today! The fun begins January 4, 2021. Find out more at 40daysugarfast.com.

CONNECT:
Connect with Wendy Speake on Instagram and Facebook, or follow along at WendySpeake.com.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of The 40-Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speake. To celebrate this book, Wendy’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win  by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, December 7, 2020.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What do you turn to in an effort to alleviate your stress and weariness? Do you overload on sweets, binge on TV shows, obsess over exercise?

Remember, Jesus said, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) In the comments section, share with us one way that you plan on turning to Jesus instead of to something else this week.

© 2020 by Wendy Speake. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Baker Publishing Group for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28106
www.Proverbs31.org



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