God is speaking to me this week. It sounds weird, but when a repeated topic comes up, I don’t believe it’s happenstance. It’s God. Already slated to speak on a topic next week, a speaker on a similar topic fell through for a different group, so I stepped in. Coincidence? Nope, it’s just another opportunity to talk to others (and myself) on a topic I need as much as they do: stress.
God often talks to me through what I share with others: clients, family, friends and here on the blog with you. It’s been a stressful few months (actually over a year) and I sense more is coming. Hence the extra opportunity from God, perhaps?
As we pursue being PRESENT this Lenten season, we’ve discussed being Purposeful, showing up in Real life, and keeping our Eyes open to the world around us. But being present can also be Stressful. S=Stress.
Sometimes, we don’t want to be present; preferring to shy away from difficult or less than desirable situations or people. We don’t always want the stress of others or even our own issues. It reminds me of the old bubble bath commercial-take me away!
Yet we can’t run from our lives. God often allows us to be in valleys for a reason. Maybe it’s to be His hands and feet, learn (or relearn) a lesson, or because it’s His plan for someone else. It’s not always our place to wonder and ask why. Although we often do…
In the middle of a mess, stressful situation or valley of life, it’s our job to walk through it, knowing we are never alone. God is always present and a presence in our lives. We never walk alone, which should ease our stress. Should is the keyword.
I should take comfort knowing God is always present. But so often I feel like I have to do things all on my own, in my power. Hard places and seasons of life cause us to look only at the problem. We don’t want this issue so we get stuck and stress begins to build. If you’re like me, you then try to power through the problem. Instead, we should be seeking and sensing God’s presence and following His lead.
This reminds me of the Israelites as they journeyed to and lived in the Promised Land. Along the way, they thought they knew better than God and ended up wandering in circles for forty years because of it. Finally settled, they still didn’t quite follow as God asked. And so began the slippery slide to further sin, punishment, and exile.
It’s time for a better way.
In a recent stressful season as well as other pivotal times in my life, there was one thing I knew without hesitation: God was there. I clung to the truth He was present and would see me through. In many of these moments, I didn’t know how things would work out. So I simply trusted. It wasn’t fun, easy or good, but I did what I could do and gave the rest to Him.
Now on the other side of it, I’m tempted to go back to my way of managing it all. But God is here again speaking, just like He’d warn the Israelites. Let it go, surrender your stress to me, He’s saying.
This life is not our own. Difficult situations will continue and the stress of being present in them should not be our focus. Stress relief comes when we shift our eyes from the problem to the Problem Solver. If all we think about is the problem, that’s all we’ll see and where we’ll wallow. When we shift our attention and stress to Jesus, we find comfort and the next step as He lightens our load.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30
Being present can leave us weary with burdens. But God never intends us to shoulder the weight alone. He wants to help us carry the stress and burdens of our lives as we walk with Him.
No doubt more stressful times lie ahead and we’ll be tempted to escape and not be present. Instead of looking for bubbles to take us away or choosing not to be present, let’s cry out to Jesus. Shifting our focus to Him helps us find the next step as we travel through life’s valleys. Let’s choose to be present in any situation that comes, trusting in Jesus’ presence with us.