Standing Firm When Stress Piles High

When I was a psychology student at Oklahoma Baptist University, we learned about “life change units” (where diverse life experiences are assigned numerical values in accordance with their stress-generating potential). We discussed the taxing strain that facing too many of these “units” can put on an individual’s ability to cope. Over the years, Todd and I have rolled our eyes and joked that the “life change units” we were facing were piling up more than we’d like. 

Change can be stressful even when change is good. This last year has been full of change for me, some good and some very difficult with most of it leaving me disoriented. I haven’t felt like myself. I’ve felt weak and incapable. Can you relate?

I was encouraged recently by the words of Habakkuk. He was a prophet who was frustrated with the evil ways of God’s people and stressed out that God seemed to do nothing about it. His life experiences may have been generating a lot of stress in his life. 

In that stressful and frustrating space, how do you exist in a healthiness? How can you live in gospel identify and depend on the Lord for strength? As ministry wives, how can we not become distracted by the brokenness we see in our ourselves and our churches but instead keep focused on who God is? Here are 3 truths from Habakkuk to standing firm when stress piles high:

Ask God the questions burning in your heart even if they are short-sighted assumptions.

Even though Habakkuk was frustrated with God, he still went to God with his complaints and short-sighted assumptions (1:2-4). Things like: How long must I call for help and you don’t listen? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? God was kind yet firm in his answer: 

“Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (1:5). 

Habakkuk took his concerns to God, although he still struggled to believe and trust God (1:12-2:1). Yep, me too Habakkuk!

Know that God is the one in charge, and his answer may not change your difficult circumstances.

To Habakkuk’s questions, he was reminded of this simple truth: God is the one in charge (2:2-20). That’s a relief. We can rest knowing that even if the circumstances remain stressful God answers in the best way and responds in his perfect timing.  We can be confident that he answers my broken-hearted “why” or “how long” questions simply with Himself. He knows I don’t have the strength to know all that he knows, so He doesn’t burden me with it. Instead, He reminds me to trust, wait (2:3), and be faithful (2:4).   

God says, “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” NLT

Remember the sovereign, creative, and loving God will always help you trust him during inexplicably hard times.

As I studied these chapters, I learned that having a patient, resolute, cooperative submission to God’s correction prepares me to endure difficulties that make no sense. This endurance through God’s help gives me strength as I wait and grow (3:16-19): 

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” AMP

Are you living in a stressful season? Maybe “life change units” are piling up for you too, and you feel unsteady and ill-equipped. Maybe you are stubbornly trying to fix a painful situation that only He knows how and what you need. Maybe you are just worn out and tired of choosing that lonely path of walking by faith. 

You aren’t alone. You are not left to handle life on your own. I hope these truths in Habakkuk will encourage you to grow strong and stand firm as you lean into who God is and go to him open-handed with everything that is on your heart. 

Written by Jamy Fisher