It’s funny… We have known each other for a little while now, but we have never taken the time to get to know each other. In the hour and a half I had with Trey about asking him to be a part of The Well, I got to know a very personal, open, and real side of who he is. He shared things that most people don’t open up about at the first hangout. But, what I learned about Trey is that he is a man that loves the Lord with his whole heart, he is sooo passionate about doing life with people & building meaningful relationships, and he loves to be a vessel in the Kingdom of God. And boy, are all of those things obvious! I left the coffee shop that day feeling extremely encouraged because of our conversation (really Trey poured into me the whole time, so WOW), and I’m so pumped about the message he has prepared today. I pray you are all as refreshed by his post as I have been!
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Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
This is what we call life. Each day we live out the word stress. We exhale stress. We inhale stress. We speak stress. We breathe stress. We show stress. We hide stress. Stress is simply a part of life. We gain stress from the good, bad, and the ugly. Whether from school, divorce, death, loss of job, gain of responsibility, increase in financial obligations, difficulties in marriage, moving to a new home, illness or injury, emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem), or even that crazy puppy that just won’t stop using your brand-new rug as a great place to leave its mark.
During these moments, we often question:
“What the heck?!”
“When will this get easy?”
“Is it even worth it?”
“What’s the point?”
It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to give in and walk away from your problems. It’s actually what we desire more than anything. To live the easy life. To live the stress-free life, even though we all know that’s not even achievable. And if you say you live a stress-free life style, can you give me advice on how to live like you? But, only if you don’t waste away on a couch and stare at the wall all day. The thought that “I have responsibilities that need to be taken care of” drives my very day… Which leads to something very ironic: Responsibilities equals stress. How ironic? his is the very struggle that every individual has gone through. This is where we all can relate. This is where there is no discrimination. There is no separation. There is no segregation. We have all been here. We have all gone through the trial of stress. We have all gone through the difficulty of questioning, “Why do I go through this?” You are not alone. I get it. We all get it. Just by reading this you can very easily start thinking about that one major thing that drives you insane and stresses you out more than anything during this season of life.
“But, you haven’t gone through the EXACT struggle and stress that I’ve gone through, so how can you possibly say you can relate?” You’re right. There are areas where I personally will not be able to relate to you, and you will not be able to relate to me. No, my parents have never been in a divorce, they live a very loving marriage. I’ve never gone through sexual, mental, or physical abuse. I’ve never struggled with drugs or alcohol. I’ve never had a family member murdered. My mom has never had breast cancer. I am extremely blessed to have never gone through any of those situations. But, I am not saying my life has been a breeze. I have lost a family member. My grandfather died at a very young age from his first heart attack. I lost two of my close friends not more than three weeks after his death. Tanner died because of blood shortage to his brain in the middle of the night, while Hannah died because she had a major cause of diabetes. Death was a very real stress in my life when I was only in sixth grade. I’ve gone through anxiety attacks, depression, self-doubt, questioning of purpose, loss of identity, major negatively impacting temptations and addictions, family sickness, school problems, and many more things that have pushed me off the “I want a stress-free life” search. Trust me, I get it.
But, this is how I overcome these moments. I have a way to defeat my stress. I have a way to find victory when all I can see is defeat. I found my flashlight in my darkness. I found my umbrella when it rains. I found my coffee in the early mornings. And I have found the pillow where I rest. I found Christ. Through Christ, I found my comfort. Through Christ, I found my healing. Through Christ, I found my happiness. Through Christ, I found my reason. Through Christ, I found my identity. Through Christ, I found my purpose. Through Christ, I found my medication. Through Christ, I defeated my struggles and overcame my stress. Am I saying that life is as easy as can be? No, not at all. I still have struggles. I still stress. But, I found the one who helps me overcome stress each day at a time.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27
You see, when I seek Christ, I find peace. When my heart is hurting, He relieves my hurt. When I cry because of the pain, He is my source of happiness. Jesus gives me renewal, motivation, determination, and a stress defeating attitude. He gives me victory.
Though there is a beautiful picture that Jesus paints for us, we still question the color He chooses, “If God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing, then why does He not just take stress away all together?! Why does He not just make it easier for us?!” These are the questions that separate most people from the idea of Christ. These are the questions that everyone always asks before they find the true love of Christ. Whether atheist or believer, this is a question that is essential for someone to ask. It seems like we ask God to prove us wrong before we come to Him. Before we commit to Him. And here is my honest answer. Specifically speaking, I don’t know why there is cancer. I don’t know why there is emotional, mental, and physical abuse. I don’t know why there are major diseases throughout the world. I don’t know why there is murder. I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t know why there is genocide. And I for sure don’t know why an innocent and defenseless child dies in a house fire. Trust me, I understand that there are these questions and that life can kick us in the teeth. Life can suck. But, this is the deciding factor on if we find victory or defeat. Are we going to blame Christ for all the bad things that happen to us? Or are we going to go to Him and pursuing Him when we need guidance?
When God created the world, He made it perfect. He made it “Good.”
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” -Genesis 1:31
So, you ask me. Does God let this happen? Is He not all good?
YES! GOD IS ALL GOOD, but we are not. God gave us choice. He gave us the ability to make decisions. Both good and bad. If He did not give us choice, then we would be puppets. That’s not living. That’s not freedom. That’s not love. That’s slavery.
Think about this. God could’ve had a perfect world. He could’ve had absolute perfection, but we would never understand what love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or what self-control even meant. We would not have any idea what life is all about if He chose to have that route. We would be robots without emotion. BUT, our God loves us so much that He did give us choice. He did give us decision. And WE messed it up. We allowed evil into God’s perfectly designed world. God is all good, so He can’t be evil. Not even a little.
“But, why does cancer, illness, hurt, stress, etc. exist?” We can relate to this question through Adam and Eve. I ask you, why did Adam and Eve get tempted to eat the fruit from the tree, even though God told them not to? The answer is simply Satan. Satan is hurt. Satan is pain. Satan is addiction. Satan is depression. Satan is murder. Satan is death. Satan is all bad. Satan is cancer. Like I said before, God made this world GOOD. NOT BAD. Man destroyed this, by choice and by temptation. Satan tempted and influenced Adam and Eve. He threw lies in their direction and they fell for his lies. The moment man allowed Satan to have control was the moment we became sick. This was the moment we chose to burn the perfection of Gods world. “But, I wasn’t the one who ate the fruit!!” Have you ever done something that you should not have done? Yeah, you ate the fruit. Let’s just be real with ourselves. We all took part of eating the fruit. Satan goes and tries to make us all sick. He wants us to hurt. So, on behalf of when times get rough, it’s the equivalent of Satan attacking us. So, when this happens, what should we do? GO TO JESUS!! Because this is Jesus. Jesus is LOVE. Jesus is OPPORTUNITY. Jesus is HEALTH. Jesus is OUR HOSPITAL. Jesus is MEDICATION. Jesus is CURE. Jesus is REVIVAL. Jesus is RESURRECTION.
Do you really think people walk out of the hospital cancer free because of luck? Nope! That’s Jesus. Do you think people walk out of a death ridden car wreck, scratch free? Nope! That’s Jesus!
There is a perfect story that can represent any struggle that we go through in our life in the book of Matthew when Peter and the disciples were on the boat out in the water:
As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. 23 With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. 24 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. 25 At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. 26 They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. 27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” 28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come ahead.” 30 But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” 31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” 32 The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. 33 The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”
– Matthew 14: 22-33
So, let me make this quick because I’m sure by this point you’re like, “I thought this was a blog, not a novel?” Just hear me out. The storm that the disciples went through in this story represents our stress. It represents our struggles. The rain, the wind, the thunder, the lightning, all symbolize the junk that goes on in our life. Through this storm and through our struggles, God calls Peter and ourselves to step out of the boat and walk in faith towards Him. Forget about the storm. Forget about the stress. Forget about the struggle. GOD HAS CONTROL. GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU. Peter started to sink because he got distracted by the storm. He was scared. He didn’t have full faith. BUT, Jesus still saved him and put him back on the boat for safety and calmed the storm. Christ will keep you safe! Step out of the boat and WALK ON WATER. Don’t look around. Don’t look back. Look at Jesus. Don’t sink. WALK!!
“Oh, you of little faith. Why are you afraid?”
JESUS, HAS YOU! HE HAS ME! HE HAS US!
What are you going to do? Are you going to run? Are you going to fall towards the stress of the devil?
Or are you going to walk on water towards Christ?