Getting away on vacation gives your body a chance to relax, but what about your soul? Find renewed strength in five of God’s promises during a series of articles called the Summer Soul Refresher.
“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:20 (ESV)
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The world is opening up again.
And as social distancing and mask regulations fade away, you might’ve expected your worries to exit with them. But it’s not so easy to shake the dark cloud that became a familiar companion over past months.
God, are you still there?
It’s no secret that mental health plummeted during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 40% of United States adults struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse in 2020.
So if you’re struggling with lingering feelings of loneliness, anxiety and discontentment, take a breath. You’re still here. You’ve endured so much. And God isn’t angered or surprised by what you’re experiencing now.
Start to process your thoughts and emotions in light of these truths from His Word:
1. Challenges are a sign of God’s love for you.
God is a patient Father who knows our human limitations. But He loves us too much to leave us as we are.
His Word says, “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12) and “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:7).
>> In what area of your life is God challenging you to grow?
“If we look at life from the human point of view, it will seem a great mystery to us. Trust and believe that that which has happened is for your own good.” —Billy Graham
2. Your faith is growing through this trial.
Growth usually isn’t easy. Think about a teething baby, or hormonal teenagers, or the aches of an aging body. But in His infinite wisdom, God often uses trials to deepen our faith and trust in Him.
The Apostle Paul—who endured prison time, shipwrecks and stoning for Christ’s sake—told fellow believers, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
>> How has your faith deepened in recent months?
“Pain and tragedy are often some of the greatest teachers in life. No matter how bad the situation is—whether it’s a life-altering crisis or a sprained ankle—it teaches us that there’s something more important than the temporal things. Through these difficulties, we can understand God better and learn to rely on Him more, having our faith strengthened.” —Will Graham
3. Even as you change, God never will.
For Christ followers, change is inevitable. The definition of repentance is turning away from worldly things and turning toward Christ. And as you seek to honor God with your life, that might lead to job changes, moving homes and new relationships.
When you find yourself in new territory, God is the same. He promises to stay near, even in this new normal: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).
>> Which aspect of God’s character is especially meaningful to you right now?
“I have ‘seen’ His glory … His character … in the dark cloud. I have experienced God’s faithfulness to meet my needs, His grace to pour out His blessings through family and friends, His strength to enable me to endure triumphantly, and His goodness to bring me through one day at a time.” —Anne Graham Lotz
4. Remember, you won’t be perfect.
While God invites us to take on His righteous nature and leave behind our sinful one, He doesn’t demand perfection. He knows we will stumble, and He’s ready to pick us up every time we fall.
As you seek to glorify God in this broken world, give yourself grace along the journey. Paul encouraged the Philippians with these words: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
>> How can you free yourself from the pressure to be perfect?
“Remember, for those who repent and trust Christ for the forgiveness of sin, all your sins—past, present and future—were canceled at the cross.” —Franklin Graham