"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Psalm 61:1-4
Forget the "Freshman Fifteen." I'm struggling with the "Florence Fifteen." All my life food has served as my escape: from stress, from uncertainty, from insecurities, from disappointment and from anxiety. The other night I caught myself mindlessly chowing down on Oreos like I was the Cookie Monster. The storm has brought with it a surge of emotions and instead of dealing with them, I eat. I consume my feelings with snacks. There's a reason they are called "comfort" foods.
Everyone is different, and so are the ways we deal with difficulty, adversity, and trials. Food might not be your vice. Maybe it's losing yourself on your phone and social media. Perhaps relief resides at the bottom of a bottle, a pack of cigarettes or a Starbucks cup. You might keep yourself perpetually busy, knowing that if you slow down, reality will hit you like a brick wall. Or, instead of working feverishly, you hibernate and struggle to get out of bed and face the day.
During hard times, we turn to these places more often. And, yes, they might provide relief for a moment, however, the reprieve is fleeting at best. They numb us for a period, but the unaddressed wound remains and only grows more painful. We'd like to think our negative coping mechanisms are a refuge, but what really is taking place is us retreating from the problem.
Today, I want to encourage all of us to reflect on the ways we are managing our emotions and processing what we're experiencing. How are you dealing with your circumstances? Where do you look for relief? Are these places healthy and life-giving or damaging your heart? But, take it a step further and ask WHY? Why do you turn to these things hoping they will distract or bring peace and comfort?
Questions like these aren't meant to produce shame or guilt, but rather make us aware of our tendencies and temptations. Recognizing our weaknesses is a critical step in finding strength through the storm. We aren't designed to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Neither were the things of this world created to provide us with everlasting security, safety, and satisfaction.
Only one source provides the hope our hearts and minds desperately need. Christ reminds us time and time again that He is right there with us, through the good and the bad. He sits with us in our grief, pain, and loss, but He also encourages us to get up and place our feet on solid ground, even if our world is crumbling.
Jesus invites the weary to find rest in Him. He wants to free us from our burdens. Rather than running to lesser things, He encourages us to pursue Him with full confidence that His arms will be opened wide to greet us.
How are you dealing with your circumstances? Where do you look for relief?
Why do you turn to these places in hopes of finding relief and comfort?
God, You are my refuge. Keep my eyes focused on You. Remind me that when I am weak, You are strong. Help me to recognize the things I look towards to mask what's going on in my heart. May I be vulnerable enough to bring those broken places to You to be exposed so they can encounter the hope only You provide. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.