It’s a scientific fact. Stress causes memory loss. Researchers have determined that there is a chemical reaction in our brains when we are stressed that causes all kinds of problems, one being loss of memory. We can’t think straight when we’re under stress.
I doubt we needed a scientific study to come to that conclusion. All of us have experienced what stress can do, we forget what we were saying, we forget where we put things, or we forget why we went into a room. And as we get older it just seems to get worse. But we’ll talk about that another time!
We don’t function at our best when we’re under stress. Isn’t it nice when science confirms what God already told us? It should remind us that He has been in control all along and knows exactly how he designed us to function. He created us to handle a little bit of stress at a time.
Did you know that your body needs some stress? Your muscles need stress to get stronger and your brain needs some stress to trigger the release of chemicals that keep everything working smoothly. You also were given a special stress mechanism that allows you to escape dangerous situations quickly. But all those good forms of stress are sabotaged when we allow stress to control our lives.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
We were not designed to carry around stress and anxiety all the time. Instead, we need to heed the words of the Psalmist “I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”(Ps. 16:8)
When we get so tangled up in our worries and concerns, we do forget. We forget what’s important. Today, allow David’s psalm to remind you what’s important.
Psalm 103:2-5 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”
What can you really do in your own strength? What can you accomplish all by yourself?
At first glance, it may seem like you are capable of many things. One of the world’s most common messages is that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. The bookstores are full of self-help books that promise you can succeed in ten easy steps at anything you want to as long as you follow the plan. Weight loss, business, relationships, parenting, you name it and there’s a book to help you reach your goals.
The Bible tells us we can do all things too, if we just follow the plan. But the Bible plan is much different. It says in Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. That’s the strength we can depend on, not our own.
Have you ever seen a domino toppling demonstration? The “artist” spends hours positioning dominos and other props in a design that is laid out in very precise detail. Have you ever tried it yourself? One little bump and the entire display can be ruined in a matter of seconds. All your work gone before you can appreciate any of it. And even if you do manage to complete your design and execute it perfectly, when it’s done all you have left is the pile of rubble that you need to clean up. You have had a few moments of pleasure as you see your creation fulfill its purpose and then there is nothing.
I think we can be tempted to spend much of our time here on earth trying to build elaborate domino displays. We can plan and build and feel satisfied with ourselves for our successes but in the end, if we have been doing all of it in our own strength we will have nothing to show for it. The Bible says in First Corinthians 3 that God will test our works with fire. If what we have done doesn’t pass the test we have nothing to show for all our efforts but a pile of rubble.
God is not stingy with His strength. He tells us over and over that His strength is available to us at the moment we ask. He will provide all we need to succeed at the things He has called us to do. And in the end we will have accomplished something with eternal value and not just a momentary satisfaction that leaves us with a mess to clean up.
1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
These days, it takes a strong person to watch the news and remain hopeful. It’s a good thing that isn’t where our hope lies! With talk of global warming, economic pressures, increasing crime rates, the chipping away of our liberties, not to mention the increased persecution of believers all over the world, it is easy to become discouraged.
We are tempted to ask, “what will life be like for our children and grandchildren if things are this bad now?” We can get so focused on the dark that is getting darker, we can forget that our hope is in the Light of the World. He isn’t worried that the evil seems to be increasing around us. He already knows what we will face as a body of believers, as a nation and as individuals.
It seems that everyone I know is struggling in their daily personal lives with sometimes huge challenges. It may seem like these difficulties are increasing. Maybe they are. Maybe it truly is getting “darker.”
But if it is, we should really be glad. Yes, I said glad. Think for a moment about our first reaction when the power goes out. Maybe a storm knocks out the power late in the evening and everything in your house and neighborhood goes completely black. What is the first thing you do? Look for a flashlight, find the candles and matches. You search for some light to overcome the darkness.
That is what God desires in our world. As the darkness gets darker, people will search for the light. We can help them find it. We can rise above our own circumstances and become vessels of God’s light and share it with those around us. We may be going through difficult times but when others see our light shine in spite of our circumstances they will be encouraged to find the source of that light for themselves.
Someday we won’t need to shine our light. Someday we will be in God’s presence where there is no darkness at all. But for now, when the news is bad, when hope seems elusive, you can be part of the answer. Just hold your candle higher.
Proverbs 4:18-19 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.
When I was a little girl my parents took me to see the Rocky Mountains. We left Ohio and drove for what seemed like weeks to a five year old girl. Would we ever get there? Had my parents promised something that they would not be able to accomplish? I had never seen mountains except in books so I kept my eyes on the horizon ahead, waiting to get my first glimpse of the promise that I was going to see huge snowcapped mountains. Finally after days of driving and waiting for the promise, the mountains appeared. But we continued to drive without much evidence that we were getting any closer to them. We kept driving, we stopped for gas, we stopped to eat, and we stopped at parks to stretch our legs. Still the mountains loomed in the distance appearing no closer. Of course we eventually arrived in Colorado and I was able to experience the Rocky Mountains for the first time but at times during that trip I doubted the promise my parents had given me. Have you been in a similar situation? Have you received a promise from the Lord that you’ve been waiting to have fulfilled? Abraham and Sarah could tell you a story about waiting on a promise. I imagine they could tell you all about struggling to continue trusting when it didn’t seem like they were getting any closer to the fulfillment of the promise they had received. What they waited for was somewhere on the horizon but they never seemed to make any progress toward attaining it. Sometimes the journey is longer than we anticipate. Sometimes God leads us along paths that seem to go nowhere but all the time, He has a plan. He is working in our lives whether we see progress or not. He asks us to trust Him to fulfill what He as promised. Each day we cover more ground even though we may not see it. God will take us safely to the end of the journey where we will rejoice with Him.
Psalm 25:9-10 He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
God’s promises are not earned by our behavior. Some promises require our obedience but that’s not the same thing as performance or merit. God sees our potential and not our failures. We cannot be disqualified from receiving God’s promises if our hearts are truly His. We don’t have to earn His love, compassion or peace by measuring up to some standard. He loved us first, before we had a single opportunity to prove our loyalty or commitment and His peace can be received anywhere, anytime. There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does.