What do you do when the pressure is on?
Do you try to comfort yourself when life becomes hard or stressful?
Do you seek escape?
I ask because we all have ways of coping with stress. Some are helpful and healthy, others are not, like overspending, overeating, self-medicating, etc. We can become touchy, defensive, abusive, vindictive, fearful, anxious…
…or we can pray and ask God for help.
I truly do not want this to sound like a pat answer to your difficult problem, but this is exactly what God wants us to do. When we pray, we are not praying to some nebulous entity incapable or unwilling to intervene on our behalf. We are calling out to a loving, merciful God who longs to show us His goodness and mercy. This is why Jesus, when asked by His disciples how they should pray, included the following in His instructions:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13 English Standard Version)
The New Living Translation says it this way: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Most people do something in response to stress or pressure, whether they are aware of it or not. Knowing what your weaknesses are, what situations cause you to turn to the bottle or whip out that overextended credit card can put you on the right path- the path that leads away from destruction.
I used to drink and smoke. Or I would shop a lot. I could get extremely irritable and mean when I was feeling put upon or neglected. Or I would think, “Everyone else can just _______! I’m going to ______!” whatever I felt like doing at the time. None of this was helpful. None of it solved my problems. It only alleviated stressful feelings for a short period of time and ultimately compounded my problems later on. Then I became a Christian and got set free from some bad habits early on, but developed some “allowable” habits as alternatives…again, not helpful. God wanted me to learn how to rely upon Him and not food or being a control-freak, an escapist or a touchy, irritable Christian.
So where’s that love and power we are always professing? It’s found through Christ, with the indwelling Holy Spirit. The way we access and receive help from God is by prayer. And not just one prayer, years ago. We need daily prayer, daily connection with our heavenly Father: “…Give us this day our daily bread.”
We need fresh bread, everyday…fresh strength, new mercy, daily grace. And I think it’s better to ask for help in advance rather than during or after the pressure kicks in and intensifies.
Please don’t get me wrong. We won’t live a pain-free, event-free life. Jesus never taught or modeled that. Just reading the bible at all can show you how much people suffered. The issue becomes more about the person we become through the difficult times. Do we give into pressure and become molded into this world’s bitter, defeated, wounded image? Or do we allow God to strengthen us and conform us to Christ’s image?
I want to leave you with several passages of scripture all related to prayer, suffering and temptation. Take these words to heart and call out to God for help. He hears you. He will help you.
“On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22:40
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” James 5:13 . (Read James 5:13-18, it’s all related to prayer)
“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.” Psalm 34:15
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
“Never worry about anything. Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests, with thanksgiving.” Philippians 4:6
“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
And finally, a pointed reminder from James: “You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2b
Blessings! Praying that you are humble enough and bold enough to ask for the help you need. Let Him lead you away from temptation and into a life of freedom and victory. Have a great week!