We live in a fast-paced world. We want everything done well and quickly. We demand immediate results. We want to know our efforts will be productive and end in success. It seems that, to a degree, everything in our lives is now marketed for speed. Even though we have every modern, time-saving convenience, we never seem to have enough time on our hands. We sometimes wonder if this constant pressure is all life holds.
Many families are finding it difficult to provide the amount of time expected and needed to accomplish everything on their “To Do” lists. They find that working and caring for a family under these time constraints and pressures takes a toll on their physical and emotional health. Yet, they feel they must keep trying: there’s no relief in sight.
I have discovered that Jesus also had stress in His life. In fact, at one point, He tried to find a place to rest, but the crowd followed Him and wouldn’t leave Him alone. I always smile when reading that passage. I think that many of us can relate to the frustration Jesus felt. Sometimes, we just want to be left alone!
While He was in the desert, Jesus was tempted to assert power and control, but He chose, instead, to follow His Father. We have those same temptations today. Many times we would like to have power and control over others, or negatively exercise the power we have.
The media tells us we need nice cars, material trappings and pills to alleviate our pain. It says we should all perpetually appear as though we are in our twenties; young, healthful and beautiful. The movies portray heroes who conquer the evil villain and do so in a harmful manner. Simultaneously, we are bombarded by the violence constantly being shown on television and in the movies. Is this the way we should handle the stress and challenges in our life? Our culture seems to think so.
Of course, we all know that movies and television are fiction, yet we must consider how they affect our thinking and our feelings, even without us recognizing it. I am not a theologian or an expert in human behavior, but it makes common sense to me that the constant bombardment of negative impressions must impart a degree of influence.
In addition, many people find it hard to balance work, school, family life and personal responsibilities. The stress and expectations of the workplace denies us time for our spouse and children. We often bring work problems home with us. For some, the action of coming home itself presents problems. We see no end to our stress. The constant expectations cause inner turmoil, which, at times, seems insurmountable. The added stress of paying bills, dealing with an ill family member, auto repairs, burned dinner, or any of a myriad of problems can be overwhelming.
Some try to find relief through alcohol or drugs. Others may repress these anxious feelings until they explode in anger or the abuse of others. Some become clinically depressed and withdraw from friends and family. Others try to lose themselves in their career, because they may feel “in charge” in the workplace. Some may try to be overly controlling, which they believe gives structure to the chaos of their lives. There are many ways people try to protect themselves from the inner storm of stress and anxiety. These may sound like valid options; however, they don’t work. We have all tried at least one of these and can say from experience that it only makes matters worse.
In the coming chapters, I will talk about finding peace and a sense of purpose and love. Please read my suggestions, as I believe you will find them helpful. I have learned much from my mentor, a doctor of psychology, and from my experiences in workshops, ministerial courses and through spiritual direction. I will provide reflection questions and prayers that will offer you a means of dealing with the daily problems of life. My prayer is that these will help you on the path to a joyful and faith-filled life.
There is hope! You don’t have to live under pressure while confused and operating in survival mode. Yes, there will always be the cross we have to bear, but I will suggest some ways to carry your cross—even through the storms—and in a manner that doesn’t weigh you down.
Come with me on this journey. Jesus is waiting for you with love in His eyes. He wants to show you compassion and peace. He wants to calm the troubles in your life. After all, He was there when you were created. He has been with you every minute. You are His beloved son or daughter! He is like the father in the prodigal son parable. He waits to embrace you and dance when you return home!
Think of whatever it is in your life that is causing you stress. How are you handling it? Talk to Jesus regarding whatever is happening in your life right now. Ask Him for wisdom to handle the stressors in your life and for peace to sooth your spirit. After your prayer, record your feelings and thoughts on paper. You can use the pages in the back of this book if you like.
Prayer: Jesus Can Calm Our Storms
Do you feel turmoil?
Is the internal storm
raging with wind and thunder?
Do you feel like you
are holding on for dear life
so you won’t be blown away?
You say to yourself,
“Where can I go for shelter?
Where can I go for peace?”
I know a place where
you will feel loved and secure
You don’t even need to leave your room
Within you, there is an inner light
This light has more
love than you can imagine!
It is more powerful
than any storm,
more powerful than any fear
This is Finding the Light of Jesus