Tag Archives: stress

Ezekiel 48; Daniel 1:1-2:30

This is what I know when I meet Daniel–he was physically fit, attractive, teachable and capable, educated, and qualified. He was going to be treated (somewhat) like a king–at least with a measure of respect and dignity–eating food and drinking wine from the king’s table. And he was going to be taught the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel 1:3-8, NIV

And though he was enlisted to be part of the king’s service and immersed in the culture of the Babylonians, he drew a line he wouldn’t cross: he would not defile himself with the royal food and wine. I take special note of this.

I learn a lot about Daniel and his friends in these opening scriptures. And I see how God works in their lives.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

Daniel 1:17, NIV, emphasis mine

I also take special notice of what happens when Daniel is under extreme pressure. He’s on the cusp of execution because all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers are unable to tell the king the content of his dream or its meaning.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact.

Daniel 2:14, NIV

Daniel speaks with wisdom and tact.

He also takes the issue to the Lord in prayer and expectation.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel 2:17-23, NIV

I think again on the quote, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.” Finding himself a captive of sorts, enlisted, and facing great stresses, I see the level of Daniel’s training–a foundation of solid boundaries, discipline, faith, and humility.

Lord, these days I find myself leaning more and more into you. I’m thankful for a reading today that highlights your presence and provision. And I’m also grateful for a reminder of my own personal responsibility to stick to boundaries and maintain a focus.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66, 67

I recently ran seven miles nonstop. This was a really big deal for me because I’m preparing to run a half-marathon next year, and there’s a part of me that feels intimidated by the distance. I was truly surprised at how good I felt when I finished the mileage. I was surprised I did it. When I was in my twenties, I was very athletic. When I was in my forties, I was very not athletic. In fact, I was unhealthy, overweight, stressed and grieving.

This week when I set out on my long run, I did seven miles again, shaving nearly a minute of my per-mile pace. I was so very thankful to God for all of it. I remember thinking, “I forgot I was an athlete.” And I felt like God reminded me: you forgot a lot of things.

In Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken, I nearly choked at this sentence: “You are no longer a slave to the abuse or addictions of your parents or to the grave where your father is buried.” (198) I sat in awe–Lord, I forgot I am no longer a slave. And He filled in the blanks of other things I forgot–that I am capable and equipped for the tasks He has prepared for me; I am given my own skill set to bring Him glory; I am loved, valued and chosen; I am His daughter.

Today, when I read Paul’s words, he sets my focus straight. My heart and thoughts sometimes get caught in a tug-of-war among the media, my own issues, other opinions, and what is right.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:1-16, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need You and Your Word every day. I forget. I forget when I’m distracted or worried or stressed. I forget when I am overwhelmed. I forget when I am angry. But You and Your Word are never far, and always ready to guide the way. Thank you for reminding me, for giving me freedom, for showing me the way, for saving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 19-21; 2 Chronicles 17; Matthew 24

I listened to a podcast where the host remembered an interview with a businessman about priorities, and he said that taking care of health was the single most important thing one could do for his business. I wonder if business classes teach the importance of self care?

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:3-13, NLT)”

I looked up an image of a broom tree, and imagined Elijah there. I emphasized words in this reading that resonated with me–about feeling afraid and alone, weary and despaired. Stress and worry and hustle are killers, consuming from the inside out.

Rest, nutrition, finding quiet before the mountain amidst the storm and chaos, listening for the Lord–are these things so seemingly simple that they get neglected in the flurry and fury of flight/fight mode? These things have become the top of my tending list, not an afterthought behind a lengthy to-do, and not my last resort when I have exhausted myself. Not anymore.

Father God, I am so grateful for your tender care. Your Word often reminds me of your sovereignty and strength–especially when I feel so small and insignificant. Thank you for meeting me daily in my walks. You are my source of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

I remember watching an actress being interviewed, and she told a story of how her dad said that when life felt like it was too much, to go stand on the beach and look up and around, and she would see how small she and all the issues of her life really are. I imagined this woman, who had had success and fortune and a measure of pull, feeling overwhelmed, and that she needed to know somewhere in her soul that she was small. That she was held.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

 

The issues in life sometimes feel consuming, pressing in from all sides, stealing peace, stealing rest, and I am reminded that the enemy prowls crouched to pounce–a thief to steal, kill and destroy. But my God is sovereign. When I feel defeated, he reminds me of his victory. When I feel weak and powerless, he will be my power and strength. When I trust in him, I will find new strength to soar, to run, to walk and not faint.

Lord, I feel your loving hand upon my face, turning my gaze to focus again and again on you. When I look too long at my problems, they get bigger. But when I remember who you are, things fall back into perspective. You created everything I see. You hold all time. You know my troubles. You know my heart. It is so good to know you and to be known by you. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Titus 1

In the New Testament, Paul shows the contrast in example (elders versus rebellious people)–because people are watching. He appoints Titus to select elders in each town.

An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. Titus 1:6-8, NLT (emphasis mine)

Because there are other influencers who are turning whole families away from God.

10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. 11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. Titus 1:10-11, NLT. (emphasis mine)

Circumcision isn’t a qualifier for salvation in my circles, but I do know people who imply that service, perfection, charity, etc. are markers of salvation. I feel cautious about sharing my bad-day feelings with them, feel pressure to push myself to serve/host/give sometimes at the cost of peace in my home (or in myself). In recent weeks, I’ve tried to balance so many things that when a child’s health problem (and lifestyle changing diagnosis) got put on top, I found I was dropping pieces–distracted, forgetful, stressed, overwhelmed, grouchy.

I kind of need a reset.

I look into an elder’s role, an example, and I see the starting block of faith/belief. So, I’ll start there.

Lord, you know the things that have been pulling me into so many directions they’re pulling me apart. Lord, I give you my heart and my life, because it’s safe (loved, precious) in your hands. Thank you for being able to handle my bad-day feelings and for giving me peace (especially when I dropped it all). Please speak into my life about discipline and wisdom. Thank you for putting so many people into my life to be an example and encouragement through this change.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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