Distress 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. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
There are many in our world today who know too much distress - anxiety, great pain, acute physical and mental suffering. They are subjected to pressure from all sides, stressing and straining to keep it all together, embarrassed and exhausted by the strain. It may seem too simplistic to say this, but what we need more of in this life is 'destress' not 'distress'. To become less anxious, under less pressure, able to let go of the weight we are carrying on our own. That one simple letter changes a whole lot, doesn't it?
Too many times we don't allow our 'distress' to drive us toward God - we allow it to carry us further from God. We find ourselves caught up in the things that push against us on all sides and succumb to the exhaustion of the battle of trying to keep the walls from collapsing in around us. There is a great deal of distress, but our response to it is to move deeper into worry or anxiety. Do you know what the opposite of distress really is? It is a place of contentment - even in the midst of pressure - peace prevails.
Many will admit this is kind of 'pie-in-the-sky' kind of dream for them - to be truly content in the midst of the hardest of hardship. There is just something about distress that can drive us forward, though. We might not fully understand how God can use distress to bring us closer to him, but there is something in distress that can cause us to see the advantage we really hold in Christ Jesus. We just need to draw closer to him in order to see that advantage! It is so easy to allow distress to pull us away, but there is something that happens when we dig in a little deeper, falling freely into the arms of Jesus.
In times of our greatest distress there is something we can do that might just change our point of reference - to change our perspective of the stressful circumstances. We can begin to recall our blessings. There are tons and tons of blessings God has given in our lives - that is one reason I journal those things! To look back and see what God has done before this current stressful time. In those moments of recalling his blessings, there is a flood of contentment and peace that comes. Why? God is honored when we remember what he has done - it is a form of worship.
Distress is undone in the presence of God. Don't let it drive you further away from his presence, but allow it to pull nearer and nearer to his heart. Begin by recalling the last blessing you can remember and work from there. The more and more we focus on what God has done, the more we will begin to see what he is doing right here and now. We will soon find our distress is turned into a whole lot of 'de-stressing'. Just sayin!