Many of our Devotional writers have admitted to feeling worn out and beat up after this long time of adjusting to life during COVID. I second that emotion. And what’s worse, just as the vaccinations arrived and the masks were on their way out and life hinted at a glimmer of normalcy, my family’s life took an unforeseen turn into the Valley. Unexpected difficulties, unexpected houseguests, unexpected breakdowns and repairs, unexpected medical issues, unexpected expenses coupled with other expected expenses and situations that are just up in the air and cannot be resolved quickly or easily have combined to create a stress swamp that we are just trudging through every day with no foreseeable end in sight. We are really feeling pressed, perplexed, persecuted and ‘beat up.’
I don’t do stress well. There seem to be a lot of Type A people out there who conquer every challenge and zip around from appointment to appointment and ‘get ‘er done.’ I admire that, but that is not me. More than 1 or 2 appointments, big projects or a long to-do list can put me in a tailspin. In those times I resort to ‘one week at a time’ mode. I focus on just the priority items that must be done that week. I break the big projects in pieces and keep lists. I’ve been in ‘one week at a time’ mode for more than a year now. Lately, it’s been ‘one day at a time.’ Jesus was certainly right in saying that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own!’ (Matthew 6:34) Frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m not crushed or in despair, but they are following a little too closely, circling like vultures.
If you aren’t currently feeling this, then I’m sure you have, or you will. Unfortunately, it’s the human condition to experience hard times, low times, stressful times, confusing times. It’s easy to feel under attack in these periods. And it could be that you are on Satan’s radar. Spiritual attacks are real and usually accompany the physical difficulties. It’s easy to be crushed or fall into despair, to feel abandoned and alone. Like a wounded animal, you may want to lash out or hide away to ‘lick your wounds.’ But resist this temptation. These hard times are exactly why God put you in a family and church family!
What you need is encouragement! You need those kind words to wash over you and bring healing to soul and spirit. I’m certain that kind, caring words from others stimulate your brain somewhere, like social media likes, flooding your brain with happy chemicals which probably make your body feel better for a time too. I see far too many people suffer in silence and go through things alone when what they really need is a team of encouragers sending notes, listening, praying and putting things into perspective. Sometimes, just having someone remind you of God’s many promises to be with you always, of his abounding love, or of his amazing ability to make a way when there seems to be no way, can really bring relief. It’s easy to get ‘tunnel vision’ or ‘valley vision’ when you are struggling through that valley of the shadow. When someone reframes your problem, or helps you to see it from God’s perspective, or even just reminds you that He knows more about your issue and has more resources to resolve it than you can ever imagine, it can open a window of possibilities and blessings that you couldn’t see before.
Being an encourager is a high calling. It’s easy to be cynical and critical, but it is much harder to play Pollyanna’s ‘Glad Game’ and find something positive in every situation. There really is always something to be thankful for, but you may need others to help you find it. I like to hold on to any thank you notes I receive. In these times when I am running out of ‘spiritual gas,’ re-reading these notes and emails filled with kind words, or even just acknowledging that there are some friends and family who cared enough to write them, is a true boost.
And if you, like me, can use a few kind words, here you go: If you are reading this devotional, then I can guarantee that there are some people in this church family who love you, who are praying for you, and care about whatever you are dealing with or going through. If you need a hug, or a chat over coffee, or someone to pour your heart out to, just ask! Linda, our office secretary is a real prayer warrior and is always happy to give a listen. I, myself, would be happy to listen to any troubles that aren’t my own! Our church is full of sympathetic hearts. It’s okay to unburden yourself and lean on others for a time, enjoying the sweetness and healing of kind words and loving hearts. After all, Jesus himself likened the church to a hospital where broken spirits are bound up, mended and restored. Hang in there, God goes before us and follows us and places his hand of blessing on our heads. (Psalm 139:5).