March 30, 2018
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Storms are a reality of life. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God is bigger than any storm we will ever face.
When our daughter, Danna, was a toddler, she and her daddy had a favorite game. Dan would place her in some high spot. He would then hold up his arms, and say, “Jump to Daddy!” I hated that game, but Danna loved it. She would always jump into his arms, laughing and giggling. One day, Dan picked a spot that seemed just a little too high for Danna’s taste. She did what I do when I get scared. She closed her eyes. When her dad said, “Jump!” she said, “I can’t! I can’t see you, Daddy!” Dan said, “It doesn’t matter, baby. I can see you!” With a smile on her scrunched up face, my daughter bailed off into the strong arms of her Father, secure in the knowledge that he would catch her just as he always had. Talk about a major stress buster! Knowing we belong to God and that He will always be there to catch us when we fall is the foundation for a life of peace. Today, let’s look at four more ways to deal with stress.
Recognize your source. I believe a large part of our stress is the result of misplaced expectations, requiring the people and circumstances in our lives to meet needs that only God can meet. Most people who know me well would describe me as a strong woman. It took a complete physical, emotional, and spiritual breakdown for me to realize I was only as strong as my human personality and abilities would allow me to be. I was, in short, looking in all the wrong places for the deepest needs of my heart to be met. When all was stripped away by a two-year battle with clinical depression, I was left with nothing but broken dreams and unanswered questions. There, in that dark pit, surrounded by the meager remains of a shattered life, I discovered that God is enough. “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” Just as the shepherd meets every need of His sheep, God meets our every need. Just as the sheep totally depend upon their shepherd’s care, we must depend totally upon God for our care. He is our Source, and in light of that reality, stress flees, leaving only peace.
Learn to rest. I am terrible at this “rest” thing, forever walking the thin line between being productive and my life spiraling out of control. I have repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow “above” both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Stress shouts: “Get busy! There’s so much to do!” Stress applauds and dances with delight as I keep on “doing” instead of “being.” I’ve discovered that when I’m tired, it’s much harder to handle stress. Just as ninety percent of income goes farther when we tithe ten percent of it, so does our energy when we tithe it in rest.
Manage your fears. It’s not God’s plan for us to dwell in fear. He has already set in motion the fall of every giant we will ever face. Our responsibility is to step through our fear, confronting those giants in God’s power instead of our own, while counting on the promise that God really is the same yesterday, today and forever. We have nothing to fear, not because we are clever or self-sufficient, but because we are His sheep. We can learn to manage fear and stress instead of allowing fear and stress to manage us.
Take the long look. We must be very careful to choose the right backdrop against which we live. Our backdrop is eternity – not the daily tyranny of urgent demands. Our backdrop is an old rugged cross - not the condemnation of our own heart or the judgments of others. Our backdrop is an empty tomb – not the stress filled prison of despair. When stress threatens and it seems like you can’t go on, rest in God’s truth. Take the long look at life, knowing that He will provide your every need and fill your heart with peace.
Stress is tenacious in its quest to derail and destroy us. Marriages and homes teeter on the brink of disaster because we’re too busy. Personal and family needs are consigned to the bottom of our priority list. Distractions are rampant because our lives are not rightly focused - and the enemy laughs in the shadows, applauding our foolishness. Stop. Get off of the merry-go-round. Come into God’s presence and rest there until stress has gone and peace has come.
Father, I refuse to surrender my peace to the stress of life. Help me learn how to truly rest in You, knowing that You will never leave me or forsake me. Today, I submit my will to Your plan for my life. You are my Shepherd and my God. I put my trust in You and praise You for Your perfect provision in my life.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read Psalm 23 every day for one week. Beside each phrase below, write you own thoughts about how God is at work in your life:
- He makes me to lie down in green pastures___________________________.
- He leads me beside the still waters__________________________________.
- He restores my soul _____________________________________________.
- Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me_____________________________.
- He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake ___________.
- Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life _________.
More from the Girlfriends
Dealing with stress is an ongoing battle. Just about the time I think I have it all figured out, some storm blows into my life and, instead of trusting God to calm the waves, I panic and give in to doubt and fear. I am amazed at the grace of God that simply reaches through each storm to calm my heart and guide me back into His peace.
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Originally published Friday, 30 March 2018.