Tag Archives: Stress

through the pain

“He looked around the carpentry shop. He stood for a moment in the refuge of the little room that housed so many sweet memories. He balanced the hammer in his hand. He ran his fingers across the sharp teeth of the saw. He stroked the smoothly worn wood of the sawhorse. He had come to say goodbye.  It was time for him to leave. He had heard something that made him know it was time for him to go, so he came one last time to smell the sawdust and lumber. Life was peaceful here. Life was so safe,” Max Lucado writes.

Raise your hand if you like pain. I’m assuming you do not have your hand up. I don’t know anyone who likes pain; however, pain is sometimes a part of life. The safety of jobs, good health, stability, and control can be painfully ripped from our grip. We desperately cling to them, but eventually, our fingers become so sore we have to let go. Pain enters and we are not sure what to do.

Jesus too faced pain. He understands what it is like to be bullied and hated. He understands what it is like to endure physical stress. Jesus helps us see how to handle pain.

Look past today’s pain to tomorrow.

Jesus left the safety of the carpentry shop to walk a path leading to a Roman cross. Jesus knew the agony and pain of the cross would lead to a better tomorrow. He knew closing the door of the carpenter’s workshop would lead to death, but he also knew closing the door would lead to a better day. A day when he would be able to help you and me out of our pain. Jesus looked past today’s pain to tomorrow.

In the midst of our pain, we do not fully know what tomorrow will bring. All we know is the Bible promises the pain will eventually give way to a better day. Try to look past today’s pain to a hope of a better tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better.

Rely on the Lord

As we look to a better tomorrow, Scripture encourages us to rely on the Lord.

  • The Psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
  • Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

As you may be facing painful circumstances, remember, Jesus understands what it is like. He encourages you to look past the pain of today to tomorrow and to rely on him.

Please share this post.

Pressure Cooker of Life

Life is a pressure cooker.

Good cooks, which does not describe me, know a pressure cooker can be a useful tool. It can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender dish. The heat and pressure help cook the dish perfectly. You need just the right amount of pressure though, or you end up with ketchup on your kitchen ceiling. Pressure cookers are useful as they reduce cooking time, and a well-versed chef can use the tool to create delicious food.

Life can be described as a pressure cooker. Each day is filled with stresses which cause our anxiety levels to rise. The decisions we are forced to make can be overwhelming. We have more bills than income, deciding how to keep our families safe amid a pandemic, and juggling our home being the center for work, school, and everything else. The pressures of life can certainly come from all directions.

The pressures of life may cause us anxiety, but we are not alone. Others have had the same experience including the writer of Psalm 119. In verse 139, the writer states he is overwhelmed with indignation. He feels insignificant. Perhaps nothing is working out in the way he planned. Pressure is increasing, yet the Lord is still there.

Psalm 119:143-144 says, as pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right. Help me to understand them so I may live.”

Though he was in the pressure cooker of life, the Psalmist kept his focus on the Lord. The challenge for us is to follow the Psalmist’s pattern.

Amid stress and anxiety, remember…

  • The Lord is with us.
  • The Lord is trustworthy.
  • Jesus asks us to trust him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • The Lord sees the big picture and is a master chef at using life’s pressure cooker. He knows when to release the pressure so the ketchup doesn’t end up on the ceiling.
  • Christ has promised he will come and take us where he is.

Please share this post.

Feeling Hopeless?

You are not alone.

As recent events continue to unfold around the globe, a feeling of hopelessness may be emerging. The unknown of the future is causing much anxiety and stress for many individuals. If this is you, you are certainly not alone.

Half of respondents to a recent survey state they feel hopeless about the future.

In Psalms 42 and 43, the writer shares the feeling of hopelessness. The writer felt separated from God. Perhaps he felt as if he was on an island all by himself. Though feeling separated from God, the writer recognized he should put his hope in the Lord.

Seek the Lord in moments of hopelessness, and he will provide hope.

  • Psalm 42:5 says, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again.”
  • Psalm 43 says, “Send out your light and your truth. Let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God, the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my heart, O God, my God. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God, I will praise him again, My Savior and my God.”

The Bible reminds us there is no hopeless situation. Having Christ as Savior means there is hope in hopelessness, life in death, and light in darkness. “Our hope is the anchor for the soul. ‘Where’s your hope,’ Jesus asks. It is the confident hope of the return of Christ,” states Max Lucado.

Give the Lord your list of hopeless situations, and allow him to provide you with hope. And, do not be afraid to reach out to others for help in this moment of hopelessness. The Lord has blessed us with individuals who can help us in our time of need.

Please share this post.

 

Remember These 3 Keys When Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? These 3 keys can help.

The situation seemed grim. There was no where to turn. The Israelites found themselves sandwiched between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. How could they possibly get out of this situation? They were overwhelmed, and the Bible uses this event to help us navigate overwhelming circumstances.

Overwhelmed? You are not alone. A study revealed 74% of respondents were overwhelmed to the point of not being able to cope. To go with these 3 suggestions to get through overwhelming circumstances, here are 3 keys to remember.

Moses offered these keys to Israel as they were leaving Egypt. God directed Moses to lead the people on a less traveled path out of Egypt, so they find themselves at the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot on their trail. The Israelites surveyed the situation and panicked.

“But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm,” states Exodus 14:13-14.

In his statement, Moses gives us 3 keys to remember in overwhelming circumstances.

1. Stay Calm

“Just stay calm,” Moses advises. Stay calm is a message we receive a lot. In emergency training, we are instructed to stay calm. Flight attendants tell us if something happens in flight to remain calm.

I don’t know about you, but I find this hard to do. Our natural reaction in overpowering events is to panic and run. We immediately jump to the worst-case scenario. We’re not going to make it. We’re not going to survive; there is no way this plane is capable of landing in this condition. But, remain calm is the advice we are given.

Captain Sully did. It should have been a peaceful Thursday afternoon flight from New York to Seattle, but less then 5 miles from the airport, the Airbus A320-214 struck a flock of Canadian geese causing dual engine failure. Captain Sully and his copilot, Jeffrey Skiles, remained calm and attempted to return to LaGuardia Airport. It became clear the plane could not make it back to the airport, so the decision was made to land in the Hudson River. The ditching was successful. The 155 souls aboard the flight were able to be rescued by nearby boats. Lives were spared and disaster was averted because of the calmness of Sullenberger and Skiles.

The pilots were in an overwhelming situation, but calmness helped them remember which switches to flip and levers to pull to successfully put the aircraft on the river. Staying calm in life’s storms allows you and me to think clearly; it allows us to respond to the situation rather than react to it. Rather than panic, we should stay calm and allow the Lord to take our hand.

2. Stand Where You Are

“Stand where you are,” Moses tells the Israelites. “Don’t try to run. Just stand where you are and let the Lord work.” This may be one of the hardest points to remember in an overwhelming situation. Our natural reaction is to panic and run; run away as fast as we can from whatever is overpowering us. You and I try to convince ourselves if we run away from the problem, it will leave us alone. Sometimes, this is a great battle strategy. We run from the problem and it disappears.

However, there are other times when running does not work. The situation puts us in the shoes of the Israelites. The Red Sea is in front, and the Egyptian army is behind. We have nowhere to go; no escape route to follow. This is the moment when we need to stand where we are and let the Lord work, and he will.

David stood where he was, and the Lord worked. David found himself standing on the battlefield with the Israelite army. They were overwhelmed by Goliath. Goliath was around 9-foot-tall, and he was a master soldier who had never been beaten. Israel’s fighting men believed Goliath would overpower them, so when he appeared on the battlefield, they would run in retreat. But David offered to stand and fight.

King Saul tried to talk David out of fighting. David could not be convinced. You see, David had been in some tough spots before and the Lord helped him, so David had faith the Lord would help him on this occasion.

“The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine,” David exclaimed in 1 Samuel 17:37.

David prepared to fight and went out to meet Goliath. The giant taunted David, “There is absolutely no way you will beat me!” It does not look good for David in this moment. Goliath is 9-foot-tall, wearing armor, and has someone carrying a shield in front of him. David, on the other hand, has no armor, no one is carrying a shield, and his only weapon is a sling shot and some rocks. Though it doesn’t look good for David, he knows the Lord will work.

David responded to Goliath’s taunting by telling him the battle was the Lord’s. David stood where he was, and the Lord worked. The Lord overpowered an overwhelming situation for David.

You may have no where to go or no escape route to follow right now. Remember, stand where you are and let the Lord work.

3. The Lord Will Guide You

The Lord guided Israel on the exodus from Egypt. He fought for them and when they were standing between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, the Lord guided them in a way no one could have imagined. The Lord divided the water so the people could walk through on dry ground. Amid overwhelming circumstances, Israel was guided by the Lord.

He will guide us in these times as well.

  • Psalm 48:14 says, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.”
  • Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”
  • “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things. I will not forsake them,” the Lord says in Isaiah 42:16.

I think it is safe to say sometime in life you and I will be overwhelmed. When it happens, stay calm, stand where you are, and let the Lord guide you.

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you remember these keys when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Do you have another key for handling overwhelming circumstances? Please share in the comments.

Please share this post with friends who may find it helpful.

 

3 Suggestions for Coping with Overwhelming Circumstances

74% of respondents reported being overwhelmed and unable to cope. Here are 3 suggestions.

The wind whipped sea tossed the boat as the fierce winds swirled around them. The sky was completely blackened by the thick storm clouds, and the fishermen were overwhelmed by the storm. What should have been a quick and smooth trip across the sea was taking all night and the water was rough. The fishermen were straining at the ores trying to get through the storm, and as each minute passed, the feeling of being overwhelmed increased.

Can you relate? Maybe not to being in a boat amid a storm, but to feeling overwhelmed by circumstances surrounding you. According to a 2018 mental health survey, 74% of respondents reported being so overwhelmed by stress they were unable to cope. So, you are not alone.

According to the study, there were many factors contributing to individuals feeling overwhelmed. Factors included a person’s own, or loved ones, long-term health condition, debt, feeling like messages required an instant response, and younger adults reported being overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed. Comparing oneself to others and low self-esteem were also mentioned as factors.

It may be one of these factors or another causing you to feel overwhelmed, so here are 3 suggestions to keep in mind when feeling overwhelmed.

1. We should focus on the Lord.

Jesus’ disciples can relate to feeling overwhelmed. Matthew 14 records the disciples being in a fierce storm. They had been trying to cross the sea all night, but the boat was buffeted by the waves. Walking on the water, Jesus comes to them, and gives Peter a chance to show us what to do and what not to do in overwhelming circumstances.

Matthew 14:28-30 tells us, “Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink cried out, ‘Lord, save me!”

Peter was in an overwhelming storm, yet he walked on water if he focused on Jesus. It is when he shifted his gaze from Jesus to the waves he began to sink. Focusing on the Lord equals walking on the water; focusing on the waves equals sinking.

When you and I are in overwhelming circumstances, we should focus on the Lord. When we feel we don’t measure up to others, we should remember the Lord loves us, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. When we feel the pressure to succeed, we should remember what success looks like in the Lord’s eyes. When we are feeling overwhelmed, we should focus on the Lord.

It is when you and I lose focus on the Lord we are overwhelmed by circumstances the Lord can overtake.

2. The Lord will grab hold of us.

Peter is sinking, and cries out, “Lord, save me!” The Lord, in turn, grabs hold of Peter.

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…,” says Matthew 14:32.

Jesus grabbed hold of Peter to help him get back in the boat. Jesus will grab hold and help us in overwhelming circumstances.

He grabs hold of us when we believe all options are exhausted and we have no where to turn. He will take our hand and guide us in life’s storms. He grabs us when financial security is gone, physical health is fading, and we are forced into the storm of change.

Who better than Jesus to grab hold of us? In this storm, which is overpowering the disciples, Jesus is taking a walk on the water. In this storm, which is consuming the disciple’s strength, Jesus is about to pass them.

Mark 6:48 says, “Shortly before dawn he went out to them walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them….”

Circumstances we find overwhelming the Lord finds underwhelming. Situations overpowering us don’t even cause the Lord to flinch. When we are consumed by the storm, the Lord is taking a walk. The Lord will grab hold of you and I in overwhelming circumstances.

3. The storm doesn’t last forever.

Peter and his companions were only in the storm for one night. It did not last forever; however, in the middle of the storm, they probably thought it would never end. The disciples would have been exhausted. Hours spent straining at the ores, trying to keep the boat going in the right direction. The elements were physically and mentally demanding, so I’m sure they were tired.

The circumstances which overwhelm you and me will not last forever; however, when they are occurring, it seems like they will never end. We are exhausted. The doctor doesn’t know what to try next. We rearrange our rearrangement of the budget, but we still do not have enough money to pay the bills. We know the situation won’t last forever, but when will it end?

Matthew says the storm ended when Jesus and Peter returned to the boat, and John offers a deeper perspective.

John 6:21 says, “Then they were willing to take him into the boat and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”

John says the boat reached the shore immediately. For Peter, the darkest, most frightening part of the storm was the last part of the storm. He was closer to shore than he realized. Perhaps the same is true for us.

We may be closer to the end of an overwhelming circumstance than we realize. We may be nearing the end. If nothing else, you and I can honestly say we are one day closer to the end. We are one day closer to the end than we were yesterday.

Meanwhile, the overpowering situation is still swirling around us, and Jesus makes the same statement to us he made to the disciples.

Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid,” in Matthew 14:27.

Focus on the Lord. Allow him to grab hold of you and walk with you through the overwhelming season of life. This is not the first time he’s faced overwhelming odds.

This is not the first time the Lord has faced overwhelming odds.

The same day Jesus walked on the water he was faced with the overwhelming challenge of feeding 15,000 to 20,000 people with two fish and a few loaves of bread. The disciples had no idea how to feed that many people with so few supplies, but Jesus did. The Gospel writers tell us there was plenty to eat. Jesus beat overwhelming odds.

Some time after walking on water Jesus was placed in a tomb. The disciples were overwhelmed with sorrow thinking this was the end. But Jesus came out of the tomb leaving it empty. Jesus was not overpowered by death. He knew how to beat it.

Your life may be overwhelming right now. You may be facing circumstances in which you have no idea what to do. The Lord does. “Take courage,” Jesus says, “I am here.”

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you go through the overwhelming circumstances of life.

What suggestions do you have for someone feeling overwhelmed? Please share in the comments below.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it helpful.