Use stress for strength!

Medical studies are suggesting that one of the reasons for the rise in rates of allergies in American children are the clean environments they live in. Our bodies are designed with an amazing immune system to deal with germs and dirt, but if that system is left on constant idle because of an overly clean environment, it becomes overly sensitive and is triggered by agents it should ignore! Interesting, isn’t it? Every little boy who is up to his elbows in backyard dirt can truthfully say, “I’m strengthening my immune system, Mom!” Our bodies need the stress of physical exercise, too. If we are constantly in a state of ‘rest,’ we turn into marshmallow fluff, our muscle become flabby, our bones soft, and our hearts incapable of meeting peak demand.

Emotionally, we need stress, too. An overly protective parent, who shields her child from every sad situation, who steps into every school yard dispute, is doing that child a tremendous disservice. Learning how to negotiate, how to stand up for ourselves, and how to build relationships are skills that start when we are two and three, and fighting for ownership of our toys. We develop the ability to cope with loss when we experience disappointments that are not life-threatening. Without the experience of those trials and tests of a normal childhood, we grow up to be “Momma’s boys,” who will not move into a fully independent adulthood. America is full of young adults whose parents thought they were helping by over-managing the details of their childhood or by making sure that little John and Jill were never disappointed or unhappy. Now, they are 25 year old men and women who cannot hold a job, build a marriage, or get up everyday to deal with the realities of life. They think that a little stress will kill them!

Dave Dravecky was a major pitcher at the top of his game when cancer invaded his body. The cancer eventually ended his career and took his arm! In all that tragedy, he went through depression, asked a lot of questions, and wondered why. On the other side of it all, years later, he reflected that losing his baseball career was the door to gaining better things in life and becoming a godly man! He writes, “In America, Christians pray for the burden of suffering to be lifted from their backs. In the rest of the world Christians pray for stronger backs so they can bear their suffering. It’s why we look away from the bag lady on the street and to the displays in store windows. Why we prefer going to the movies instead of to hospitals and nursing homes.”

Are you asking God to take away all the challenges of life? Are you praying for your troubles to be erased?

Consider that you might well be praying against your best interests! Paul, the man God called to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus, faced daunting trials. He was often the object of ridicule, arrested by authorities for disturbing the peace, endured shipwrecks during his travels, was rejected by the very people he had brought to Christ, and frustrated by lack of response to his preaching. Did he pray for these trials to be taken away? Yes! Did God do it? No! And, with maturity, here’s what the apostle came to know about the value of those difficult situations: “. . . we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT)

Are you in a tough time in life?
Is each day a struggle, with troubles cropping up everywhere you turn?

Before you conclude that God has forgotten you, that you need a ‘new life,’ or that you should just give up, pray for guts!

Ask God to strengthen you, to keep you on your feet, to keep you facing into the battle unafraid and unbowed. He’s promised – “I will not leave you as a orphan!… I will never forsake you!”
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Here’s a word from the Word to ponder today — “God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them.
But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”
(Hebrews 12:7-11, The Message)

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TFTD will be back on Thursday, March 29. See you later this week!

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