First Things @ First

Distress has been a part of the human experience since Adam faced the consequences of his disobedience as he and Eve exited the paradise of God in Eden. Many are facing distressing times in our community, state, nation, and world. It is not a new experience to any of us. Although the distress of the present is originating from a different situation, it has the same source. The stress of distress comes upon the realization that we cannot contain or control what is happening in our own strength or resources.

What do you do? How do you react when God permits more than you can handle in your own strength? Do you respond with His strength presiding over your life? 1 Corinthians 10:13

It does no good to dig in or hunker down until the 'storm' passes because no one knows how long this latest 'storm' will last. In every 'storm' there are some good ingredients flowing out of the press or pressure that we are in although it may be challenging to enjoy them fully at present.

There are some enduring principles for facing times of distress. Any distress.

You and I are able to better overcome distressing times when we first refuse to stand down. Standing down is synonymous of cowardice. Instead of rising to the challenge, this attitude directs action that withdraws. The challenge of overcoming distress is made more difficult when we decide to retreat from it.

You and I can overcome times of distress when we refuse secondarily to stand aside. Standing aside is synonymous with compromise. I know that the world system is consistent on putting forth scenarios in life that call for a compromise of core convictions. There are times when being flexible is appropriate but there are some hills on which you and I must be willing to die, if necessary. The 'hills' I refer to are not the consequence of a continual mounding up of personal preference that overrides the personal considerations of others. The 'hills' I refer to are those challenges that contradict the code of conduct for a Christ follower who is receiving his/her instruction from the Word of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit. When you think about it, the Church has been more active in standing down and standing aside in the last 100 years and this world, our world is the worse for it. Going along to get along will take you farther than you want to go in the wrong direction. This choice will in fact, lead to greater distress and discouragement.

There is another choice that is available to each of us every day when times of distress appear at the front door of our mind and soul. This choice, the best option is to stand up. Standing up is synonymous with courage. It takes courage to stay strong when those around you are in retreat or distancing themselves from you because of your personal conviction. A failure to be courageous will only add to personal distress if you and I are more concerned with how others see us rather than how God sees us.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying this about courage--"Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it."

Winston Churchill endured much as prime minister of Britain during World War II.

Churchill may have best summed up how to live in a world where we often face distress when he said--"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts."

In times of distress, heroes are needed. I am thankful that we see many rising to the occasion on the front line of the fight against disease, death and the distress that goes with it.

Christopher Reeve, famous for his portrayal of superman said this of heroes--"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." After being crippled in an equestrian accident Reeve lived on a ventilator and was confined to a wheelchair the last nine years of his fifty-two-year life.

Even superman needed courage to get up and get going. Reeve could not physically stand up after his accident, but by his action, he stood tall for those who suffered similar kinds of injuries.

Jesus did that for us! He faced the cross with courage, not cowardice or compromise!

"Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right-hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

We must respond in kind to the distressing times we face as well!

And we will in Christ!

Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36