I have lots of inner breeding grounds for stress to take root in me. Last week I revealed that one of my toxic swamps is when I take on the job description of controlling the circumstances of life around me. It’s not my job to manage the universe. I need to lay that one down.
I have another swamp to tell you about. It’s related to last week’s desire to take control, but this is a swamp in its own right – yet I find both draining into each other. Its like they are partners ganging up on me. A nice way to describe it is I simply forget that God is always with me…in all circumstances. I am on my own…therefore I must take control. A not so nice way to describe this stress inducer is I intentionally ignore His continual promised presence. Why would I do that? Because I think I know better what I should be doing or how things should be going than God knows. Whether I unintentionally forget or purposefully ignore His continual presence, the result is always the same – stress!
Notice the underlined words in the following scripture:
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). To be afraid is stressful. Hugely. So one way I like to paraphrase this verse is like this; “Don’t stress out, I am with you. And don’t let circumstances be a source of discouragement – I am your God and that is sufficient encouragement for you. And don’t be stressed by not being enough to meet the onslaughts of life – I know exactly how much strength and help you need. Not only do I know, I will deliver the exact amount at exactly the right time. Relax. Trust me.”
But there is even better news that keeps stress from taking root:
- “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you“ (John 14:16-17). These words of Jesus changed thousands of years of theology. All through Old Testament times God promised that his presence would be with us. Now Jesus says that he will not just be present with us, but will actually live in us by his Spirit! Now that is help. Real help. Here’s how:
First, this Spirit in me has the ability to comfort me – if I let him. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father…” (John 15:26, NAS).
Secondly, the the Spirit is always committed to telling me the truth and helping me live in it – if I will listen and then trust. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13). God’s perspective always seems to relieve my anxious and stressful thoughts.
Thirdly, the Spirit helps me by giving me an inner strength to face life that I cannot muster up by my own willpower. “…According to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being“ (Ephesians 3:16).
I need to remember that God is more powerful than the circumstances of my life. And that power resides in me…for me. And so others can see it for His glory.
SOME PERSONAL MEDITATION: Is there a circumstance in your life right now where you have forgotten His presence with you and in you? What is it? How would dependence on the reality of God’s comfort, truth and power de-stress you?
HELP A FRIEND REMEMBER: There is someone in your circle of friends who is right now overwhelmed and stressed out by the circumstances they find themselves in. Perhaps it might be helpful to pass this post on to them. II Cor 1:3,4.