Has your world ever come crashing down around you? Perhaps this is your situation right now. Are you just one more catastrophe away from your breaking point? Are you worried about your aging parents’ health, your teenager who was caught shoplifting, your adult child with a drug addiction, your spouse who lost his job, your failing marriage or the call from the doctor saying you need more follow up tests with a specialist?
Maybe this doesn’t describe your life exactly, but I know everyone experiences seasons in their lives when nothing seems to go right and stress heaps up like an overflowing dirty laundry hamper. You feel like your life is a boat constantly being smashed on jagged rocks and you have no more energy to keep bailing out the water. Perhaps you even think allowing the boat (your life) to sink might bring sweet, welcome relief. When you try to talk to your friend she casually quotes scripture, trying to be comforting but you stand there feeling as though someone just slapped you across the face with a cold, dead fish while telling you, “Suck it up Buttercup, life’s just like that.”
We’ve all been told to take things “one day at a time”. Perhaps this saying came from Jesus’ teachings in the book of Matthew. In chapter 6 verses 25 to 34, He’s teaching about worry. He ends the teaching in verse 34 by saying, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Truer words were never spoken! Each day certainly brings us enough to worry about and sometimes even trying to take it day by day can be overwhelming.
I recently started to go for a run in the mornings. I decided rather than hurting myself I’d start out slowly, working my way up to extended periods of running. I time myself, running for four minutes then walking for three. I generally start out fairly strong and four minutes goes by quickly, but as I begin to tire, the three minutes seems to get shorter and the four minutes of running seems to drag on forever. I’ve discovered if I set small goals as I run it help me maintain my motivation. I’ll see a bend in the trail or a bench and decide I won’t check the clock until I reach that point. It’s like a bargain with my body to keep going in spite of being tired. As I near the end of my run I come off the trail and get back onto a sidewalk. It’s at this point – the last two segments of four minutes that I find my legs aching and my chest heaving. Even a small goal seems overwhelming. At that point the only way I can keep going for the four minutes is to tell myself to just run to the next sidewalk block, then the next, then the next and slowly I keep going, the time ticks by and my body becomes a little more conditioned every time I go out and accomplish those small goals – just one more sidewalk block.
There are times we need to take this approach in our lives. Sometimes the thought of getting through the day is simply too much to contemplate, sometimes even an hour seems overwhelming and it’s hard to find God and trust the Psalmist who says, “give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (Psalm 55:22) or Peter when he says, “Give all your worries and cares to God for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7) These verses are both true and we do need to lean on God for strength in times of stress. As you lean on God for strength, break down the situations and set small goals for yourself - just get through the next minute, then the next, then the next. Soon the minutes become hours, hours days and days weeks and with God you find the strength to move through your struggles one minute or hour or day at a time.