By Rev. Gary J. Blanchard
Because of my travel schedule, I’ve been watching more weather-related reports than ever before. I’ve been on information overload regarding the “polar vortex” with subzero arctic temperatures, snow, winds, and roller coaster temperature readings.
I’ve noticed that all weather maps have several things in common – arrows showing the direction of the wind and circles with the letter “L” or “H” designating high or low pressure areas. I’m not a meteorologist and don’t pretend to be, but after watching so many reports you quickly learn that high pressure areas are usually associated with fair, sunny weather while low pressure areas are generally cloudy, rainy, storm-related systems. While staring at the TV, mesmerized by the wind lines and circles, I dreamed about a weather map without all that stuff on it.
And then I began thinking, what would life be like without pressure areas?
The results of my very unscientific, hallway conversation poll reveals that many of my friends are living through pressure areas known as stress. Some talk about good stress that’s beneficial and motivating while others talk about bad stress that causes anxiety and even health issues.
According to the experts, good stress can produce bursts of energy that help to meet challenges and motivate people to accomplish goals. On the other hand, bad stress produces a fight-or-flight response that can lead to a variety of physical problems.
So how can we best respond to the high and low pressure areas – the stress areas – on our life’s map?
Let God do the heavy lifting. It almost seems foolish to write this to readers who are involved in ministry. Yet I know I fail at this; I want to handle all the problems myself. If there was a machine that could turn stress into peace, it would make its inventor a billionaire. Yet God has given us the perfect recipe: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Have a clear sense of God’s calling and purpose for your life. God’s calling and purpose serve as anchors in our lives, anchors that keep us in place despite the storms and high winds. Jesus managed His stress by understanding His calling and purpose. As Jesus approached His own death, he prayed, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Get rid of the microscope. All too often we look at our circumstances through the lens of a high-powered microscope magnifying our smallest problems beyond their significance. God is the author and finisher of our faith; He knows the end from the beginning and provides all we need for the present. Don’t live in yesterday; concentrate on today and not tomorrow and thank God for His daily grace that sustains you.
Know that God is at work. Trials always create character and perseverance for the future. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3, 4).
The good thing about living in Illinois and looking at weather maps is that if you don’t like the current weather, hang in there, it will soon change. The same is true with our life map. My wife’s favorite scripture verse, “And, it came to pass;” and it will.
Rev. Gary J. Blanchard serves as Assistant Superintendent & Executive Secretary of the Illinois District of the Assemblies of God.