So Much More Than Words 

  • ckstubbswrites

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. I wish this wasn’t the case, but I’ve found myself struggling with fear in this season of my life. Fear of the future. Fear of failure. Fear of never living up to my expectations. Fear of not being able to truly live out my purpose. These are just a few that I have been grappling with. The thing is—I know that God instructs us not to fear. I think we all know this. However, oftentimes, this is easier said than done. It’s easy to say “I will not fear” when you’re not in a difficult or uncertain situation. It’s much harder to make that declaration when you’re in the middle of something that makes you very afraid. Can any of you relate?

During my devotional time this morning, I found myself reading Isaiah 41:10 (NIV), where God says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” As I meditated on this verse, my very first thought went something like this: “God, You know what I’m currently walking through. How can you expect me not to feel afraid right now?” Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting a response; I was merely reminding God that what I’m walking through is tough and it is very scary. However, when I looked down at the verse again, something stood out to me that never did before. I can’t count how many times I have read and studied this verse, but today, it seemed like God was revealing something so obvious, yet I found it incredibly profound. I was seeing the verse in a new light. The Holy Spirit helped me realize that the answer to my question was right in front of me. God expects me not to feel afraid in this season of my life because He is with me—like the verse says. He expects me to not be dismayed because He is my God, and because of this, He will take care of me. Why should I fear when the God of the universe is with me and promises to help me? It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I was seeing this season of my life from a different perspective. The promise of Isaiah 41:10 is so beautiful and should be cherished by those of us who struggle with feeling afraid. This morning, I was reminded that yes, what I’m walking through right now is hard and it’s scary sometimes, but even though I feel the fear, it doesn’t mean that I have to submit to it or allow it to control me. In the midst of my fear, I can hold onto God’s promise that He will be with me in the midst of it.

The next time a fearful thought comes to your mind, or you feel afraid or uncertain about a situation in your life, declare the truth that not only is God with you in the midst of it, He will also help you and uphold you with His righteous right hand.

When you’re afraid, remember the promise of Isaiah 41:10.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Whenever I think about my life, I imagine myself walking along a path. I can’t quite see what’s up ahead most of the time, but I know that as I continue walking, I will arrive at my destination. Seeing my life in this way has helped me to develop a healthy perspective when trials come my way. Whenever I’m walking through a difficult season that is causing me some sort of pain, I see them as roadblocks or delays that I have to overcome. In the same way, I look at the small inconveniences of life as potholes that I have to manoeuvre my way around in order to continue walking towards my destination.

Although viewing my life and my journey through these lens has helped me in many ways, I still oftentimes struggle with weariness. While I have already decided that I will keep walking, no matter what comes my way, there are moments along my journey when I become very weary. Moments when I feel over-worked, fatigued and just flat-out tired. I’m sure there are many of you who can relate. Recently, I’ve been wrestling with weariness. Some days, I would wake up feeling rejuvenated, but then the obligations and responsibilities of life would tug on me until I feel like I have little strength left. I think this is the reality of most people working towards their goals, or just going about their day-to-day activities. Weariness is a real thing, and if we don’t know how to properly manage our weariness, it is very easy to give up. It’s very easy to check-out, or wave that white flag in surrender because we don’t have anything left to give.

In the midst of my weariness, I’ve been seeking direction from God on how to overcome it. I understand that only He can truly help me not only manage my weariness but give me the strength that I need to persevere in the midst of it. There are two things that God has been teaching me about weariness, and I want to share them with you.

1. Ask God for strength. I’ve been learning to ask God for strength in the midst of intense weariness. For instance, one day last week, I woke up feeling so weary that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I thought about all of my commitments and I felt incredibly overwhelmed. In the moment, I cried out to God for strength because I honestly felt like I had no strength left in me to give. Isaiah 40:29 (NIV) says that, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” I remember reading that verse and being so desperate for strength that I prayed it over and over. I meditated on that verse as I got out of bed and prepared for the day. By the time I was ready to make breakfast, I felt a surge of strength that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and I knew that it came from God. If you’re feeling weary, ask God for strength and believe that He will give it to you.

2. Rest. If you’re anything like me, then the word “rest” is somewhat of a double-edged sword. I am one of those people who either rests too much, or not enough, and I am praying and asking the Lord for a healthy balance. Even so, it’s important to know how to rest when you feel weary. I think rest can look differently for each person. For instance, when I’m resting, I usually prefer to be alone and sit outside in nature or take time to journal in a quiet place. Rest for someone else may be going for a long walk, or a hike with a friend to unwind. However, whenever I think about rest nowadays, I remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 (NIV) which says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” This is the most beautiful form of rest that we can experience—the rest that comes from spending time in the presence of God. In the midst of my weariness, I’m learning to take advantage of this gift of rest that Jesus offers us. It’s easy to take it for granted, but I am asking God to help me remember everyday that this is the best form of rest that I can ever receive.

We all become weary at some point in our lives, but the beauty is that we can look to Jesus for strength in the midst of it. If you’re feeling weary or fatigued, I encourage you to ask God for strength and find time to rest. I believe that practicing these two simple yet profound steps will give you the strength that you need to keep walking.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Earlier today, during my devotional time, it dawned on me just how hard I am on myself.

I was in the middle of talking to God, when I suddenly felt the heaviness of self-condemnation weighing me down. I thought about the progress that I made in life and how small it seemed compared to other people. I thought about how I’m still struggling with things that I thought I would have overcome years ago. I thought about my flaws and the things that I’m still learning to do right. These thoughts of self-condemnation consumed my mind, so much that I began to weep. I literally broke down because it all felt like too much. Too much pressure. Too much healing that I needed. Too many flaws—I felt like I was drowning in my inadequacies. In the midst of my break-down, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. He told me that this isn’t how He intended for me to live my life. He reminded me that God never intended us to live with self-condemnation as our constant companion; He wants us to live each day with joy, and peace.

As time passed, the tears continued to flow, and the pain of my inadequacies were still present, but in the moment, God continued to speak. He reminded me of two simple, yet profound practices to implement in my life to destroy the stronghold of self-condemnation. I want to share them with you.

1. Celebrate your progress: Learn to celebrate the progress that you make in life—no matter how small it may seem. This is something that I often find hard to do, but I intend to work hard to make it a habit in my life. Oftentimes in life, when we do not make the sort of progress that we were expecting, it can cripple us. If you’re anything like me, you become disappointed in yourself and your ability to the point where you begin to lose confidence. However, God is teaching me otherwise. He is encouraging me to celebrate my progress, no matter how small. I know that this will take time, but each day, I will celebrate any progress that I make—it may be small and insignificant in my eyes, but it is surely not small in God’s eyes.

2. Remember God’s Grace: God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is a truth that I constantly hold onto in my life, but I sometimes forget when self-condemnation comes knocking on the door of my heart. God however is teaching me that when I am tempted to focus on my shortcomings and the things that I often struggle with, I must always remember that He is a gracious Father. He is not waiting to condemn me in the midst of my pain and self-condemnation; instead, He is willing to help me and to bring healing to those areas. God’s grace gives us the strength that we need to persevere; His grace reminds of just how much we are loved by Him. He reminded me that if He is more than willing to be gracious to me in the midst of my shortcomings and self-condemnation, why can’t I show that same grace to myself?

Self-condemnation is very real, and it can be very damaging to our sense of self-worth. It robs of us joy and peace of mind and it distorts the beautiful image of ourselves that God meant for us to have. If you struggle with self-condemnation—I get it. I know what it’s like. I know how painful it feels, and I also know how challenging it can be to overcome. But, I encourage you to put into practice these two simple steps and watch God work. Nothing is too hard for Him. Day by day, I know that He will heal me, and I believe that He will do the same for you.

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