Luke 22, Verses 39-44 - Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
"On Responding to Stress", You Tube Video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski
The Road Not Taken, poem by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
1 Corinthians 9, Verse 24 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Romans 5, Verses 3-4 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
James 1, Verse 3-4 - Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 5, Verse 11 - Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Our desires often involve moving away from a place of discomfort to a place of comfort. However, it's important to nail the process of living uncomfortably at times. Why? We can grow in a way that prevents us from living a status quo life. We can build stamina that will pay off in the future. We can learn something about ourselves, others, or God.
So avoiding the status quo - what does that mean? I have an example. In my own life I've lived status quo and I've risen above it - I've had it both ways and always had pride when I've chosen the more difficult path. My current struggle is holding down a new full-time career with schizo-affective after years working part-time at home. It is certain that I am well enough to maintain a career right now. But some days I'm tempted to succumb to ending the anxiety I feel mid-week by quitting early on in the game, and go back to mid-afternoon naps so I can reduce my medication and live easy. My prayer is that I don't give in and that I rise above the discomfort so I can grow in new ways by dealing with a tough scenario. I have everything in place to do that - supportive family, friends, and church, an award-winning psychiatrist, and a counselor I work well with. Can I make it through? Will I give in to an impulsive end? Am I really that desperate to avoid pain, after all it has raged through my life in the past and I'm still OK. And have I though to pray about it? Am I being mindful to promote positive optimistic self-talk on those tough days? Am I lazy or wanting to give in to sin? The answers to these questions lie in a gray area - because I have succeeded in the past and I have built some stamina in my life from pressing on before. It's kind of a thing most women have experience in doing - that pressing on thing. But lying in the mix are worries from time to time that hold me back; worry is another thing most women have experienced and often been held back by. And sin is still tempting.
What can we learn about ourselves, others, or God from difficult circumstances or outright pain? Patience, right speech or right thinking under pressure, further development of our relationship with God, how to give or receive help from others, understanding what it means to be human, or a wife, mother or friend, and/or increased wisdom and perspective that finds a useful place in our minds. We learn that God sees over us even when we are tempted or tested, and that He not only allows for us to be tested but sometime authors the situations we endure for a greater purpose.
It sounds all nice on paper, but enduring and growing your relationship to God and others and with yourself is not pink roses at all; it's a thorny process. What Jesus endured, for instance, crown of thorns and all, He endured for us and His fruit is lasting. While it is beyond our capacity to run the race He ran, His example is a lesson in endurance and payoff - the two are related however unusual it seems to be. Good things lead to more good things, but bad things can lead to good things, and discomfort is not always a bad thing anyway (in most cases it's good). God had a plan for Jesus; God has a plan for us.
Dear God, When I feel weak and vulnerable give me wisdom and strength. When I feel like giving in to sin or anxiety give me wisdom and strength as well. I have given up on myself or Your plan or my responsibilities in the past, and there is always regret and tribulation. For I cannot run from tribulation but must face it in order to grow past it or above it. I seek Your wisdom and counsel and appreciate the wisdom and counsel of others. May all women seeking a better life from the discomfort they are facing, see another day and obtain both an earthly prize and the ultimate prize after this life has passed. We are so very lucky to have the freedoms we do in this country - may we not squander it or any other blessing we may receive. Glory be to God. Amen.
John 15, Verse 8 - “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
What does it mean to be alive? The mountains and the stars have an eternality about them. The rocks, the grass, the trees, etc. are all living in one sense; they leave an almost eternal imprint. Think of the millions of years that some of these things have existed, transforming, offering resources and land and life to humans and other lifeforms across the universe. God is the “eternal rock” so to speak being our foundation. He is also omnipresent; he is sovereign; he reaches our hearts. He is very much alive. And we too are alive.
Are we alive to do good? I read the book “Chaos: Making a New Science” by James Gleick. The chaos theory is a science based conclusion that explains how a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world affects the weather in another part. Just think of how a human life is one life and is worth living. As U2 puts it, it is “one life, we got to do what we should”, and that is because of our impact. Maya Angelou, a famous writer and poet, states that “words” are alive. She is very careful about her choice of words, and recommends this to others. Being careful with the tongue is also elaborated on within the Bible. Words have value to God. Morals are related to the type of impact one makes. Living a moral life is the type of life worth living.
Christians believe we are alive after death. One of the differences between the atheistic view of life and the Christian view of life is whether we are “alive” after death or not. Some of us picture ourselves like spirits floating around in new bodies, worshiping God and visiting with our loved ones. Is this reality? Christians should know their loved ones in the afterlife. The atheist does not feel value in believing in the afterlife, but are only doubters of the truth, not knowers of it. Dante left the Christians of the day and into the present with a view of hell and heaven that pervades to this day, much of it incorrect. Yet, the few descriptions of hell and heaven in the Bible are indeed symbolic and sometimes literal of what life means after death. We do continue to be alive after death.
Jesus is very much alive. Very few deny that Jesus lived. Most Christians, as they define themselves, accept Jesus as the Son of God. He established the kingdom of God on earth; he left an everlasting imprint - one that means we must strive in our living. He atones for our sins and He is our savior. He taught us we are saved through grace, and to accept the Holy Spirit into our life and be baptized, and to start producing good fruit. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.
Living a good life, striving to make an imprint on the hearts of others, recognizing the beauty of the natural world and putting faith in an everlasting life - these are ways to reduce the cruelty within our own species and to move forward with a better vision of life on earth and the hereafter. Our vision originates with God and Christ and as living Christians we have many promises from God along with responsibilities as one within His kingdom.
Pray a silent prayer along this topic. God bless!
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.