Saturday, January 15, 2011

Keeping the faith during stressful reality

Psalmcat 51:1.15.11

I was brutally reminded by my body on Monday at work that faith and positive thoughts don't always -- immediately -- overcome the physical effects of stress. But seeking God's will and trusting Him to provide whatever I need, including knowledge of His way and strength and wisdom to adhere to that path, is my only effective option. And I continue to be reminded that it works.

I was already thinking I would have to blog about this topic when a friend posted this on Facebook: "Not sleeping well...stress is slowly trying to kill me...hope you all have a great day!!!"
Others also posted about emotional, stressful and painful days. I think we all hate to post anything negative, but it does seem that sometimes it is the right thing to do, because it allows others to offer support. And that support helps. And at least as regarded myself and my friends this past week, posting also helped the person find a positive focus.

The morning after my worst day of the week, Scripture and devotional readings provided much guidance and assurance:

-- Lord God, according to Your Word, if I wholeheartedly commit whatever I do to You, my plans will succeed (Prov. 16:3). I acknowledge that the heart of committing any plan to You is seeking YOUR plan. Show me the right path, Father! (From my daily devotional by Beth Moore; timely words for me)

My Scriptures included Genesis 22 (God testing Abraham and finding him faithful); Psalm 6:6-10: The Lord has heard my cry for help ....; Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart .... ; and Matthew 8:18-34, including Jesus calming the storm.

After enduring that night of work Monday in which my body was in major stress pain and my mind almost as bad, Tuesday was much better. As I tried to think of what was different, I finally realized it was this simple: God is faithful. He keeps His promises. Some days will be better than others but God is always good and will see me through when I continue to seek Him and to live to His glory.

The rest of the week seemed to be going pretty well, but then Friday brought a lot more frustration and doubts about whether it really is worthwhile to keep trying to do what I think is the right thing. It was a day in which it seemed like no good effort would go unpunished. I hated that I felt so resentful and full of self-pity, but when that is how I feel, denial just compounds the problem. So I just kept praying for God to help me understand and to keep the faith, even when it seemed again like a pointless effort.

Today, I received some answers. Although I don't particularly like them in the short run, I know they bring positive results in the long run. And those positive results are already occurring. The study at my 12-step meeting was about turning our will and our lives over to the care of God and then taking a personal inventory to find out what within us is standing in the way of our usefulness to God and our fellows. The book spells it out clearly, and my experience also bears it out.

Resentment and self-pity may seem justified, but they provide no positive results. But what can I do about them? The book affirmed what I know: I cannot wish them away. But I can ask God to remove them. And He will. I know that, but sometimes I forget. Or maybe sometimes I don't want to let go right away. It helped me to think of how God really has taken these negative feelings away in the past and how freeing that has been to my mind and spirit.

The book also reminded me that God does provide what I need. He sees the big picture. I can trust that God knew I didn't need some recognition I thought I deserved yesterday. And I can also see that God knew I needed to head home after 11 hours of work even though there was more to be done; He helped me see and trust that others who hadn't been there as long could finish it. And then He guided me safely home.

As I was driving home from work after 1 o'clock this morning, my thought was that I do have faith in God and that I'm grateful for that. I was thinking that I have come to trust God completely, although sometimes I forget that, too. I was thinking that it's not a matter of trust, but a matter of not knowing for sure what God wants me to do. But even in my tiredness in that 30-minute drive home, it also occurred to me that perhaps the reason I can't discern for sure what God wants me to do is because I don't trust Him completely. Perhaps my fear and rebellion and self-will keep me in denial. But that's a topic for another day.

For now, I'm just grateful that even though some circumstances continue to be less than ideal, God meets my every need, often through the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues. And as that happens, I continue to respond by doing what I can to share and help others.

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