Dear People Who Keep Company With God,
Last year our church was suddenly thrust into a very topsy-turvy situation. Literally, one Sunday morning we were enjoying a freshly remodeled sanctuary that we had invested a lot of money and sweat equity into and the next day we were being told our building might be condemned. This all happened in the midst of mourning over the passing of some very dear loved ones. Without any forewarning we had sailed right into a perfect storm.
Talk about stress and pressure! I heard John Maxwell say the final leadership book he would write will be titled, “Leadership Sucks!” It really does especially when you find yourself suddenly thrust into a pressure cooker of circumstances wrought with one hard decision right after another with very few answers.
In those pressure cooker situations you find out real quickly that dealing with stress is very critical to making right choices and decisions. When we are all stressed out we tend to really complicate and foul things up.
We need to know that God has equipped us to manage short-term stress. For example, if we see a child about to stick a metal object into an electric outlet our brain releases adrenaline into our body that raises the heart rate and makes us alert and focused so we can quickly deal with the situation.
However, God did not equip us to live with long-term stress. Long-term stress causes fatigue, irrational behavior, and all sorts of physical and mental problems. It is one of the most cunning and lethal weapons in the devil’s arsenal of lies.
By the mercy and grace of God within a couple of days we had a plan to repair the building, a temporary place to meet and a team working to make it all happen. Yet, I was still struggling with stress, as we had no money to pay for any of it, plus I was very concerned about the negative impact this may have on our congregation.
I found a simple, but powerful answer for the stress. I did the only thing I could do, prayer with thanksgiving; and when I did, little by little I became more and more restful and peaceful within (Phi. 4:6-7). The storm did not immediately blow over, but my heart shifted and my thinking followed. Yes, over the following weeks God did some miracles and the storm finally subsided.
I don’t think we can avoid the storms. No one in the Bible, including Jesus, avoided storms so it is important to know how to navigate the storms. Once Jesus was sleeping through a hurricane on the sea and his disciples knowing the boat was about to sink and they would all drown woke Him. He got up and spoke peace to the storm (Matt. 8:24-26). That is a beautiful picture of the peace of God at work first inside of a person and then in His circumstances.
It seems the new normal in the world is going be more tumultuous than what we are accustomed for who knows how long, but if we can find the peace of God on the inside then we can deal with what is going around us without our health and future being jeopardized. The peace of God transcends, surpasses, rises above and goes beyond both the stormy circumstance and our understanding.
Prayer with thankfulness releases the peace of God that will guard our hearts and mind from being overcome by the inevitable stress that comes with the storms. Then we can think soundly, clearly and be enabled to cooperate with the God of peace who is right there with us in every storm (Phil. 4:8-9).
Many Blessings, BW