Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I was talking about ‘help for my distress’. Do you feel distressed? Are there experiences where you feel really burdened?
Millions of people around the world pray what is called the “Serenity Prayer’. It starts off:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
But most have never read the last eight lines to the prayer:
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
taking as Jesus did this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next. Amen.
The Way to Handle Stressful Situations
Daily life has its fair share of ups and downs, and there are days when we want to escape. Most of us will feel this way at some point in our lives. When stress in daily living becomes unbearable. We may want a way out of jobs, relationships, or some other difficult situation. We think we can’t handle things the way they are because they are much too stressful. So we decide we are walking out. Moving on. Heading for anywhere but where we are.
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God has a powerful truth for us to hear. The way to handle stressful situations is to cease fighting against them and instead to be at rest. To the Psalmist, this rest meant being still and knowing God (Psalm 46:10 NIV). Jesus described it as a peacefulness that we will both find and receive as we spend time learning from him (Matthew 11:28-30). Our human instinct clamours for us to escape but God calls us to draw near and absorb the truths of Scripture.
The amazing thing is that God still does a wonderful work in our lives in spite of how we feel—God is still in charge. Even when we may not think he is there at all. G.K. Chesterton’s character Father Brown, which has been made a TV series, once said, “We are on the wrong side of the tapestry.”
The Right Side of the Tapestry
How true. We see the knots, the snarls, and the frayed underside. But God is on the right side of the tapestry—the side he is weaving into a beautiful work of art. We may not always know what the Master Artist is doing in our lives. But the important thing is, he does.
When we see the all-powerful God on the throne of the universe—God our Father committed to our good—we are relieved of much stress.
I would like to say God uses stress to draw us to himself. Time and again it was said of the people of Israel, “But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:4 – NIV). It was in Jonah’s darkest hour, in his most stressful circumstances that he said this: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me” (Jonah 2:2 – NIV).
The Psalms are full of references of turning to God, seeking him and finding him in times of intense stress:
I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me. (Psalm 120:1 – NIV)
May our loving God through Jesus give you a sense of comfort in those days of distress.