You know what it feels like. An unforeseen situation sneaks up on you … looming like a giant with massive strength to topple you … this unrelenting giant by the name of stress!
Has overpowering stress almost pushed you to the breaking point?
Have you ever thought … if one more pressure is added to my life, I’ll snap! If so, you are not alone. How well I remember a time when I thought, I can’t take any more stress. I can’t handle one more thing!
My heart had been deeply hurt in a friendship. Words spoken were untrue. I felt misunderstood and betrayed. The pain of this broken relationship created a hole in my heart.
At that time, Hope For The Heart was still in its infancy and my daily to-do list was filled beyond my ability to accomplish it all. This stress took a toll on me physically. I began staying up past midnight answering counseling letters every night. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem because I’m a night owl … except I also began waking up at 4:00 a.m. every morning! My instantly alert mind raced through the endless list of tasks I needed to accomplish to meet the needs of the ministry.
Waking up before sunrise has never been my norm. (I’ve always thought, if the Lord wanted me to see the sun rise, He would have scheduled it much later in the day!)
Nevertheless, these early morning awakenings proved to be immeasurably beneficial – enabling me to be much more productive in accomplishing essential tasks within our young ministry. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized my rising abnormally early had nothing to do with a natural change in my biological clock. Instead, my sleep disturbance had everything to do with stress – specifically, the stress of a broken relationship and ballooning responsibilities.
As difficult as the physical burden was, the emotional toll was even weightier. Our compassionate ministry – always such a joy before – began to feel like a giant two ton boulder. I didn’t have as much help as I needed to answer all the counseling letters. I didn’t have as much research as I wanted to teach on so many subjects. I didn’t have a release for all the pressure I was feeling while ministering to so many people. In truth, this time in my life was both a blessing … and a burden.
Adding to the responsibilities on my shoulders was the weight of my own wrong choices. I became acutely aware of my own “if only’s.” If only I’d made different decisions. If only I’d thought a different way. If only I’d been a different person … if only!
Finally, I began to meditate on two of the most poignant verses in the Bible:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
These Scriptures coupled with wise counsel from friends, helped me turn a spiritual corner. Slowly, as I surrendered my personal remorse to the Lord, my stress began to diminish.
What I’ve learned since then is that stress can have either a positive or negative impact in our lives. On the positive side, stress can move us to be overcomers. On the negative side, stress can cause us to feel overpowered!
The Lord knows you intimately.
He knows how much pressure to allow in your life. Your response to that pressure is critical. I’ve personally learned I must let the pressure I feel press me closer to my Savior—to the only One who can transform me and reproduce His character in me.
For years, I kept these words by British evangelist Alan Redpath attached to my bathroom mirror, which gave my stress-filled times a much more accurate perspective.
There is nothing—
No circumstance, no trouble, no testing—
That can ever touch me until, first of all,
It has gone past God and past Christ,
Right through to me.
If it has come that far, it has come
with great purpose,
Which I may not understand at the moment;
But as I refuse to become panicky,
As I lift my eyes up to Him,
And accept it as coming from the throne of God
For some great purpose of blessing
to my own heart,
No sorrow will ever disturb me,
No trial will ever disarm me,
No circumstance will cause me to fret,
For I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is.
You can be “at rest” when the trials of life come if you focus – not on your trials – but on the Lord, who is over your trials. My friend, He will use the stress in your life to bless your life!
During my own times of stress, one particular Scripture has continued to comfort my heart and I pray it will comfort yours:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Yours in the Lord’s hope,
P.S. Let the pressure you feel press you closer to Christ your Savior. It’s the safest place of all.
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!