Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drawstring Stress

I opened up the mail the other day and I read "Are the stressful events in your life drawing you closer to God?" This was the heading in some mail from Marriage Today with Jimmy and Karen Evans.

I almost laughed out loud.

Hmmmm, do the stressful events in my life draw me closer to God?
Well I suppose if you count me filling up my journal pages with all the the things that I think are wrong with my life and with just life in general and asking God when or if He's going to do something about it as drawing closer to Him... I would say yes.

However, somehow, I don't think that what was what the question meant.

As I read further Jimmy Evans went on in the letter to say, "When you're under stress, the enemy can tempt you to doubt God's goodness or His motives. Many people think it's wrong to doubt and are hard on themselves for having doubts about their marriage. Doubt is something God wants to use for your benefit, not make you feel guilty about. He wants to strengthen your faith and show you just how trustworthy He is."

As I continued skimming through this intriguing piece of mail I read, "Doubt isn't sin until it causes you to disobey God in unbelief. Doubt and unbelief are not the same thing. Unbelief is what happens in your heart when you don't bring your doubts before Jesus.
Doubt says, 'I don't know if I can do this. It's so hard to trust God.'
Unbelief says, 'I won't do this! There's no way God can help me.'"

I continued skimming through this mail and then laid it down where I could come back to it... I knew I would need to.

It's been a stressful time. Life has been hard. My family has been through a lot, not in just the past few days, but the past few years. I know that most likely your family has faced it's own struggles as well. In these days of struggles. These wilderness years, I have had many moments of doubt, many moments of confusion, many moments of weak flesh, many moments of frustration... but my Redeemer has always seen me through.

I was reminded once again as I listened to the Precept video on Isaiah 53 that I am to count all suffering as all joy. Enduring whatever suffering I am going through for the joy and the hope that is set before me. I was reminded that if I am suffering it is because God is at work in me.

I was reminded that Jesus was not a victim. He willingly subjected Himself to suffering so that God would be glorified, so that I would be saved, so that you would be saved.

I had to ask myself-  "How often do I take on the victim role when suffering comes my way?" I have to admit that when suffering hits I seem to immediately respond as the victim, not the suffering servant that I am called to be in Christ.

 "For you have been called for this purpose,
since Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps"
1 Peter 2:21 

For some reason I still have to go through the whining and crying process before I wake up and realize that I am acting like a child and God ends up having to take me back and once again teach me the elementary principles of Himself. After He sits me down and tells me to shut up, and I stop and listen, I am reminded who He is. Then finally I will hear Him say, "Now press on to maturity." 

I absolutely hate when I doubt God. Isn't that the root of the whining and crying? Doubt. Doubt that He is ever going to deliver? Doubt that I am ever going to get to the point of maturity that I don't go through freak-out mode before I remember who my God is. Doubt that He could ever really use me if this is how I react to ever little thing that doesn't seem to be going right or that hurts. Doesn't the road of doubt lead us directly to fear?

I do not ever want to be the victim.
I want to be able to look suffering in the face the way my Savior did.
With my mouth shut and my face set like flint in full confidence in the sovereignty of my God. Knowing that He works all things for good. Knowing this truth and reacting to this knowledge, this hope, this promise, and not reacting to the suffering.    

I want to get to the point of drawstring stress. When stress comes I want to use it to pull my self even tighter to the waistband of my Saviour. I want it to lead me to tighten my grip around Him and cling to Him.
I no longer want it to cause me to push Him out to a distance just so I can look up at Him with my arms up in the air in the "what gives?" pose. 
Oh my the audaciousness in this... 

"For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man,
so I made the whole household of Israel
and the whole household of Judah
cling to Me,’
declares the LORD,
‘that they might be for Me a people,
for renown,
for praise
and for glory;
but they did not listen.’"
Jeremiah 13:11

Oh God give me ears to hear!
My desire is to listen!
No matter what form the suffering, the stress, comes in... whether it be marital, financial, health, family, children, work, whatever form, however it is delivered.
May it be drawstring stress.
Drawing me closer to Your waist where I can lean into the strength of Your arms and rest in Your embrace. My Jesus, You endured so much suffering for my sake.
You went to the cross so that I could be a person of Your own possession.
You created me in You to be a woman for Your renown, for Your praise, and for Your glory.
How can I glory You in the depths of self-pity?
I can't.
You deserve more than that.
You are worthy of more than that.
I believe my ears are open. I am listening. I am learning. I cannot promise that I will never again feel doubt. I cannot promise that I have finally got it, but at this moment in time, my sweet sweet Savior, I get it and I bow down before You in reverence and awe as I rest in Your faithfulness.

To You my God be all the glory, forever and ever. 



  1. I struggle with this too, this doubt that says "I want to believe! Help my unbelief!"... More and more I am realizing that the "stress" is what it takes to keep me clinging to Him, even in my doubt, and I am compelled to say thanks for it all. "Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle" (Ann Voskamp) Love your willingness to lay it all out there, your passion is always inspiring.

  2. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart and will enter His courts with praise... :-) May we cling to Him with both hands like Jacob and cry "I will not let you go until you bless me" And may that blessing be more of Him...