Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stressed-Out but Stressed-Toward

Last week, I was struggling with a challenge. Wanting to learn and grow but feeling very tempted just to chuck it all and quit! As the day of the challenge arrived I grew more frustrated with my insecurities and more anxious about having to press through them. I went up to my room for a good cry! Thankfully, I've learned over the years where to direct those cries! I picked up my read-it-in-a year-Bible and turned to the passage for the day. Seriously, just flipped it open, hoping to take my mind off all my mess!

This is what I read:

2 Corinthians 7:8-9 I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don't feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I'm glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him.

Paul was following up with the Corinthians after his first letter had been received. He had written to bring correction, to encourage them in truth, to challenge them in their faith, and it caused them stress, just like my challenge. I felt so validated that I too allow my stress to bring me toward God. I felt like God was speaking right to me. Baby, I know this is hard. I see you are upset. But we are going to turn this around for good, you and me. So that's when the tears really started to fall.

Then I read the very next phrase: The result was all gain, no loss.

All gain and no loss. This momentary stress, this little bit of pain, brings with it gain, growth, progress. That's a good thing. Paul was saying in his letter, that good thing was worth every bit of discomfort.

Paul goes on: 10Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
11-13And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter.

No one says in the middle of their stress...Isn't it wonderful? Well, I guess Paul does. I would much prefer "Isn't it wonderful to live stress-free with complete confidence in the face of any new situation." That is so much nicer. I prefer things to be nice. But nice isn't the same as wonderful, is it? Who doesn't want to be more alive and more passionate? That IS wonderful.

I was so touched by the way this passage was speaking directly into my life in that moment. It was overwhelming. All I could think is...this book really IS alive and powerful! So I cried some more. :)

My dear son walked in and of course was curious about all the commotion. He asked why I was crying and I explained to him that I was challenged to sing during our worship team leadership class and I was feeling so nervous about it. He replied with the honest truth "Mom, you sing all the time"

"Thanks, I know, this is different and it feels harder and I'm not sure I can do it, but when I picked up my Bible it was like God was speaking right to me, encouraging me."

Pause....little boy thinking.....

"Maybe God told you that because He thinks you can do it"

Out of the mouths of babes.....


DavidC said...

I love that boy! I love how God uses our children to speak into our lives as well.

Ruth Luke said...

Awwww, this is so sweet!