What an interesting season of life. Twelve years ago my mother had a minor stroke. Although I had to transport her to the grocery store, to doctor appointments and other errands, she was able to remain living in her home alone safely. That all started to change drastically about a year ago. Because of changes in her behavior and reasoning ability we knew that, even though we were only a block away, she was no longer safe while home alone. The stress of trying to help her with daily needs weighed heavily upon us and we were asking ourselves, “What are we going to do?” Daily we worked through the possibilities but with limited resources we could not formulate a plan that would meet her needs as well as ours. The stress of the situation was growing each day.
Some time ago I read this statement. “Stress does not exist.” You may be thinking as I did, “Really? I am stressed more often than I can count!” I began to question this statement. Is stress something I can touch? Can I see it or describe what it looks like? I looked up the definition of “stress” and found that there are many uses for the word. A stress test is physical exertion put upon the body to measure how the heart reacts. I’ve done that. But the definition I thought most interesting was “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” I began to realize that stress is something we put upon ourselves. The changes I was forced to make concerning my mother had caused me to become stressed. But I asked myself, “Is there nothing I can do about this stress I am experiencing?” I realized that I had been so focused on trying to solve the situation for my mom that I had let it overtake my peace of mind.
Perhaps you have experienced stress in some way as I have. So how can we stop “stressing out?” The answer to “stress relief” is not a pill or a potion – it is trust. Where stress steals our peace, trust gives us peace. But all too often, yielding to stress is much easier than doing the work of trusting. Trusting requires yielding to the unknown. Letting go of worry about the future. God’s Word reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
I had to make a choice. Do I choose stress or do I choose peace? Rather than focusing on the changes and the unknown I must focus on the One who holds the future, the One whose love endures forever, the One who is good, the One who is faithful, the One in whom I can confidently place my trust. By changing my focus and making a choice I find myself in a place of peace – regardless of the circumstances. In John 14:27 (NLT) Jesus tells us, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
God knew my mother’s needs and He knew that I needed His help. One of the ladies in my Bible study group was sharing about similar needs for her mom. She shared some information that started a chain of events that God had planned before time began. As I prayed for His guidance it was evident that He was a step ahead of us throughout each day. He led us through a door which led to another door. It was evident that God had a specific plan for my mother. Within eleven days we had found a new home for my mother where she would be safe and cared for by lovely Christian people. Here she would get the extra personal care she needed.
Just a few days before she moved to her new home we celebrated her 93rd birthday. It was a happy day. One that she does not remember. She has memories of the past but seldom remembers the present. Now when the pressures arise I make a choice to yield my cares and concerns to God and receive the gift of peace. When you are faced with changes, put your trust in God and make a choice to replace stress with peace.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)
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- Birthday reminder