by Shane Fookes, MA LPC Intern
This is the 3rd post in a 4-part series on Stress and Distress. The first post introduced the idea that stress occurs when you experience disruption in your relationship with yourself, with God, or with another person. The second post addressed disruptions in your relationship with yourself. This post focuses on disruptions in your relationship with God.
Crying Out to God: Stress and Distress
Distressing experiences often provoke us to cry out to God. Sometimes the cry is one of desperation, “God where are you?” Other times it comes in the form of a curse: actually cursing God, angrily denying the existence of God, or invoking a curse in the name of God like “God Dammit!” Sometimes it’s a simple cry for help. We cry out to God because distressing experiences confront our inability to manage or control our circumstances.
This makes sense in the Christian worldview. We are created as dependent beings, designed to depend on our Creator God. Dependence on God is the foundation for worshipping God. You may think of worship as merely a genre of music or something you do when you sing in church. But worship is so much more than that. All life is worship! We worship as we breathe. At any given moment, the question isn’t IF you’re worshiping, but what or whom you are worshipping. God through the Bible invites us to repent, to turn from whatever you are worshiping in a moment, and return to worshiping God. If you want to know what you’re worshiping instead of God, read on.
Consider these questions when you feel distressed:
…what or who do you turn to first for hope and help?
…what or who do you think is necessary for “the good life.”
…what or who can you not live without?
This happens in small ways every day. You make plans with someone and they bail on you. How do you respond? You have a deadline to meet at work, but your co-worker hasn’t delivered you what you need to get the job done. What do you do? You’re late for work and your kids are slow getting their things together to leave for school. How do you handle it? Your distress is real AND it says something about what you worship. This is even more noticeable during big life changes and transitions – the loss of a job, the breakup of a marriage, the death of someone important.
Distress and Shame
At least some of your distress in such situations results from shame before God. You question how God could ever welcome such a failure. You avoid God because you cannot fathom God receiving you as you are. You do this even though God’s response to those who come to him in distress is clear and consistent in the Bible. Over and over you see God respond with gentleness and kindness to those who are distressed. One of God’s most repeated promises is: “You need not fear, for I am with you.”
Stress and Distress: Release
When you’re experiencing emotional distress, God invites you to release the person, the experience, the desire, or the expectation that you’re clinging to. So much of your distress comes from demanding that someone or something come through for you in a way only God can. “I have to have that job.” “I cannot lose this relationship.” “That dream must come true.” Life is full of pain and loss and grief. Your impulse to avoid loss and grief is a huge contributor to your distress.
Turning to Jesus in Times of Stress
Jesus gives us glimpses into God’s invitation to come to him in times of distress. For example, notice what happened when Jesus encountered a woman caught in sexual sin (John 8:1-11). Instead of confronting her or shaming her about her sin, he confronted her accusers and invited them to deal with themselves before God. Jesus then extended grace to the woman both by welcoming her and by encouraging her to turn from her sin.
God is Here, a Christian Counselor Can Help
God’s message to those who turn to him in distress is clear: “I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I love you. You are welcome here with me. Nothing required. Nothing condemned. Grace upon grace. Release this (person, experience, desire, expectation) to me and trust me. I will provide for you.”
This understanding of the power of “God with you” is what a Christian counselor seeks to emulate and model to all who come with their distress looking for hope and help.
Learn More About Stress & Distress
You can also learn more in the following posts in our 4-part series on stress and distress:
- Why Am I So Stressed
- The Internal Dynamics of Stress
- Distress & Worship
- Distress & Belonging
CONSIDER ONLINE THERAPY IN OREGON FOR CHRISTIAN COUNSELING
Our Clackamas and Hillsboro-based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon. Your relationships can thrive again. We can help you get back on track in a way that aligns with your faith and values. When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:
- Learn about our therapy team in Hillsboro and our caring counselors in Clackamas
- Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
- Feel more connected to the important people in your life
OTHER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AT LIFE DISCOVERY COUNSELING IN OREGON
If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, or Hillsboro, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinics. Christian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatment, anxiety therapy, trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, relationship issues, marriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!
About the Author
Shane Fookes is a graduate of Western Seminary’s Counseling program and a Licensed Professional Counseling Intern. He was previously a pastor and is still involved in churches, and writes about marriage and relationship issues, anxiety, depression, and spiritual development.