After a string of stressful events, I long for life to return to normal—for me to return to normal. We all have our ways of dealing with stress, coping mechanisms that kick into gear while we try to balance it all until everything calms back down. I can usually roll with the first couple of punches that life throws, but after the third, fourth, fifth, or more, I start looking for a bed to crawl under. If there is no bed to be found, no relief from the onslaught, then I get a little cranky. Maybe not just “a little.”
Ravi Zacharias (one of my favorite Christian apologists) quotes an old Indian proverb, “Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out when you are bumped.”
For me, that is not a pretty picture.
Recently I confided in a friend and unloaded my frustrations and snotty little secret thoughts. She told me to find solace in the Psalms, and that she has been working on thanking God in spite of her feelings. This was not a trite response. This came from someone who has spent a great deal of time in the trenches and still manages to be one of the most uplifting and godly women I know.
So I pondered her advice. Praise and thanksgiving are not my strong points. When I get bumped by life I do not automatically thank God. Praise is not what spills out of me. Not exactly a great thing to admit from someone who writes devotionals.
I believe this proves two things. 1. God has a sense of humor, and likes to use us despite our brokenness, bad attitudes, and unworthiness. 2. Getting back to my “normal” is not the answer. I have to go to God.
My “normal” is not a peaceful, well rounded, humble, loving, kind-hearted, joyful, tenderhearted, caring person. I’m really too embarrassed to describe the true nature of my “normal.” I’ve already admitted it leans more towards “snotty” with a side of “bad attitude.”
Yet God has faithfully been working in my life. He is replacing my normal with something better. Something deeper. When I get bumped by life, God waits for me to go to him. To hand over all that is spewing out of me, the anger, frustration, and crabbiness. He takes it all. And I don’t know how, but he changes it, and replaces it—with him, his love, his light.
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
So when I’m stressed, and overwhelmed by the darkness outside and inside of me, God steps in. He reminds me that he is a God that calls me into his hope-giving light. He takes my darkness, resentment and anger, and replaces it with something better. He changes my heart, whispers his words of life into my mind and thoughts, and creates a soul that cares.
God loves us enough to transform us.
Sara Nelson O'Brien is the author of
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