Graciousness in times of trouble

I am sure I am not the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed. I live a pretty quiet life but there are certain times when situations out of the ordinary come flying at me from all directions and I am unable to find the “pause” button.  Now, I would like to say that I handle the extra stress and pressure with grace and poise but the reality is I reach a point where enough is enough. But I don’t want to just accept that I am not super human and that I “have my moments” and find lame excuses as to why I lose my cool when I am pushed to my limits.  So, I decided that I needed to find comfort in God’s word to help me find peace and calmness in the midst of life’s storms.  When I have times when I am just so busy in a day, for days on end, I can feel my closeness with God slipping away. Then naturally, when I grow more distant from God I am more easily bothered by the little tests and trials of day to day life and I start to descent into emotional instability, creating negativity not only within me, but around me, pulling everyone close to me down into an unhappy place.

Good one, Satan. Get me so busy I neglect my relationship with God. Get me flustered. Get me stressed. Get me impatient. Get me feeling unthankful. Get me into self-pity and loathing. But then, I get back on my knees. Sorry Satan, you lose.

I knew that I just needed to remove unnecessary distractions from my thoughts and ask God to give me strength and peace. And as soon as I did that I felt physically, mentally and spiritually calm once again. Thank you merciful God!

He has blessed me with a quiet Sabbath day to reflect on my feelings, to have an uplifting and honest conversation with my husband about my weaknesses, to read His word and pray. And He has brought to my attention the aspect of graciousness.

Here is a point: IF I had applied a spirit of graciousness to the chaos around me, then it just wouldn’t have been chaos. Grace and PEACE are so often connected in the Bible. If there is peace, there is no chaos. Simple.  So I challenge myself now to learn to be more gracious. It is easy to be peaceful and gracious when everything is going well, but the real test comes when life throws you a curveball.

God needs to test us though. How will we learn if we are never tested? I wouldn’t have been so motivated to learn in school if I had known there wasn’t going to be a test at the end of it. When I knew I was going to have to sit a test, I sure studied hard to get the best grades I could. So it is in the school of life. I am not quite ready to say “Bring on the fiery tests and trials” but I know they will come and I know that I need to prepare for them. To learn to be gracious is just one little aspect of being able to pass the test when it comes.

So, here are just a few scriptures that I found through my study this past Sabbath which I would like to actively apply in my life as I grow from my recent “emotional whoopsie-daisy”.  I hope you find them encouraging too, if you find yourself relating to my recent experience!

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph”. Amos 5:14-15 – LESSON: the LORD God IS gracious! Despite the grief that we as the remnant of Joseph give the almighty God, He is gracious to us when we seek good and reject evil. If grief is being dished out to me, I must also be gracious.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Phil 2:14-15 – LESSON: I don’t represent Jesus Christ when I am a complaining and argumentative “dripping tap”. I have a responsibility to be a positive example to those around me and it does no good to focus on the negative!

“I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” Zech 13:9 – LESSON: To be refined and tested is a good thing! God purifies those whom He loves as silver is made pure through a refining process. When we respond positively to being tested and refined He calls us HIS people! Don’t resent the tests, rejoice that God loves you and use the test to grow in purity.

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the LORD is gracious.” 1 Pet 2:1-3 – LESSON: When it all gets too much, remember the simplicity of little children – their innocence and dependency. Turn to God as our loving Father and learn from His instructions, putting aside our own reasoning and “if, buts and maybes” and depend on Him.

“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Eccl 5:2 – LESSON: Remember my place in this universe. I am but a tiny speck in the timeline of history. My problems aren’t really that big of a deal in the whole scheme of things. When I speak I should choose my words wisely, and seek to honour God with words rather than blurt out things that reconfirm my foolish insignificance.

“The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools”.  Eccl 7:8-9 – LESSON: Patience is not to be underestimated in times of difficulty! By exercising patience rather than anger, the end of strife is likely to come sooner than fuelling it with pride and anger.

“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” 2 Tim 2:22-23 – LESSON: When I feel myself losing control and being overwhelmed, rather than picking a fight to vent my frustrations I should call on the Lord and ask Him to restore in me a righteous, faithful, loving and peaceful spirit.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 – LESSON: Be a peacemaker! Ask God for wisdom to cope with trials and tests, be patient and humble enough to yield. Show mercy and kindness to others with genuineness – maybe consider what it is like if you were in the other person’s shoes and take the focus off of your own woes. Seek peace and pursue it, earnestly!

And now, after my studies and prayers and much needed spiritual rejuvenation this past Sabbath day, I am thankful to God for His mercy towards me. Satan did not win this battle and I come away from this experience with some lessons learned and a new challenge to myself – to become more gracious in my conduct and then I hope that the next time I am getting overwhelmed I can honestly say that I handled it with grace!

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