In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. (Psalm 118:5)
It is time for me to get back to work! I have taken a few weeks away from my usual responsibilities to refocus on God’s plan for my life and find the best path forward to deal with my recurrent cardiac symptoms. As I have previously blogged, I found it very discouraging to face recurrent chest pain less than two years after bypass surgery. The easiest approach was to ignore my problem as I focused on the issues in the church. But this caught up with me when it became clear that my cardiac condition was only getting worse, and that it was affecting my relationship with God.
And so in my distress, I prayed to God. Such prayers, however, take time. Such a prayer requires specificity, reflection, and listening skills. There are times when 10 minutes each morning may be enough to stay connected with God. But I have discovered that I require much more time than that if I want to deal with my heart issues. When I take the time to open my heart up to Him, I find in Jesus a friend who loves my unconditionally and accepts me when I feel too flawed to be acceptable. When I take the time to pray in my distress, He takes the time to listen, ask questions, and point me in the right direction.
We live at such a fast pace today that most of the time we don’t even realize we are in distress. When we do realize it, we rarely take the time to understand our distress. Where is it coming from? Why do we feel the way we do? What misbelief do we have that is preventing us from experiencing God’s peace? How can we overcome it? These are questions God answered for me when I prayed to Him in my distress. I simply needed to take the time to focus on God and seek His guidance.
God revealed to me the source of my distress. It wasn’t my chest pain. It was my belief that my self worth is tied to my physical health. So as my health deteriorated, this belief drove me to ignore my symptoms rather than face them. The emotional pain due to my misbelief was greater than the physical pain. But Jesus set me free as He corrected my misbelief. He assured me of His unconditional love. All it took was a willingness to voice my distress and listen to His response.
Distress is nothing more than an opportunity to experience peace and freedom in Jesus. All it takes is time with Jesus. We read in John 8:31-32, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'”
Are you abiding in His Word? Are you taking the time to pray in your distress? Are you willing to discover your misbeliefs and allow Jesus to set you free?