I’ve been talking to brothers throughout the holidays about stress.
Not just dealing with the job, our women or church stuff, but REAL, BONIFIDE S-T-R-E-S-S. The kind of stress that has put some men flat on their backs. The economy has financially devastated so many men to the point that they are wondering if God even hears their prayers or will deliver them.
We are reading our Word, holding fast to the promises of God. The fact is that this has been going on so long that brothers are tired, no exhausted, better yet, feeling wiped out.
One brother shared that he feels like he is drowning and can’t catch his breath all of the time. Another was unable to speak without weeping, so he shut up most conversations. Many brothers are fighting hard, continuing to press towards the mark, striving within their salvation and trusting God explicitly, yet they/we are looking up from the inside of a HUGE whole that has no ladder.
Yes, there are moments of confidence in Christ that shine on us, but those are like brief breezes on crazy hot stifling days. In those moments, many find that they see clearer and feel they can get a prayer through, like being on the roof getting a clear cell signal. Then the darkness of fending off depression comes back and fills their thoughts.
Personally, I find that being still helps me—sitting still in a quiet place and listening to God’s subtle voice in a still small way—sometimes I'm alone in the car. I am not one of those Christians that gets the booming clear direction from God Himself, the order of my steps comes in bits and pieces of life —TV, reading, conversations, prayer, driving. His quiet assurance guides me and holds me up, keeps me going, keeps me fighting. The Holy Ghost dresses me with the armor of God and helps me fight each minute/hour/day.
Listen, I thought I was down for the count in January of 2008 … for real, but I’m still standing 2 years later, thank the Lord. A series of devastating life circumstances coupled with the economy have given me a new understanding of longsuffering. I confess that there are days I just want to give it all up—the mortgages, cars, debts, ministry work and accountabilities. I strategize how to just fade into the background and lay in the cut until the struggle ends. But that’s not gonna happen.
What must happen is I get up, workout, shower, eat a good breakfast and get to work, kiss my wife, love my family and friends. I gotta find a way to lift my spirits and thank God for another day to praise Him, to worship Him and magnify His name. Hallelujah!
I’ve discovered that the armor of God not only protects me from the snares of the enemy, but the armor protects me from hurting myself; from doing stupid stuff and claiming stupid stuff, like failure, weakness, lack of discipline, vague decisions, etc.
I heard a minister say yesterday that, “the good news is … the bad news was wrong.” I love that concept. Keep strong brothers. The man you are becoming is the man that can greet life with the strength of God … right now. Continue in faith, grace and mercy and lead your family into 2010. Heavy loads can be deposited on Jesus. Let them go. Wear this world loosely. Don’t let ANYTHING get between you and your salvation—not money, power, material things, love, nothing, that’s the only way to ensure that you will stand strong in Christ and bend ... but not break as the trials come at you.
You are not alone. Never alone. Never give up. He will deliver you.
Bro. Juan Roberts