By Melissa Milbourn
This Week’s Verse: Psalm 120:1, “I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” (NIV)
Here are some definitions of distress:
1. Great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble
2. That which causes pain, suffering, trouble, danger
3. A state of extreme necessity or misfortune
Who likes being in distress? Yuk. It is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and generally never a fun place to be. But as ugly as distress feels, can it be a good thing? Yeah, it can. It is good when it turns our hearts back to God.
In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says this: "I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don't feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I'm glad...not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss".
Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
"And now, isn't it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You're more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you've come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter." (2 Corinthians 7:8-13 MSG)
Are you in a tough place? Do you feel that distressed feeling? Allow that to drive you to God, not away. I'm remembering this for myself today, and also encouraging you. Sometimes it takes seasons of distress for us to really stop and sink deep with God. And out of that distress a deeper relationship with God is created, and in addition to that deeper relationship, we are changed from the inside out. As the scripture states we become more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible, and have more purity of heart. This is good.
Dear Father, thank you for the good times, as well as for the times we are in distress. We know that you will work all things to your glory and in your honor. Thank you for drawing us close to you. Only you know us inside and out. As Thanksgiving approaches, help us to be thankful for all the times in our lives, not just the good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: In your distress, draw near to the Lord Jesus, and even if He doesn't change our circumstances, He changes us, and this is good! When we turn to Him it is all gain, no loss.
2 Corinthians 12:10, “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NLT)
Ephesians 3:13, “So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.” (NLT)
2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (NIV)