August 11, 2008

 

Tight Places

Marybeth Whalen

 

“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”

Psalm 4:1 (NIV)

         

Devotion:

If someone asked you what it feels like to be stressed, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, how would you put it into words? The best way I can describe those feelings is that it is as though something is pressing in on me, pushing me down emotionally and preventing me from escaping my situation. It feels I’m in a tight place. The more these feelings build up, the more I want to lash out, strike out, or push back against my burdens. Though I might look okay on the outside (oh, those masks we wear), inside I am screaming and flailing about. Do you ever feel this way?

 

Stress comes at us every day, in a thousand different ways. Job stress, money stress, kid stress, house stress, medical stress, relationship stress—the list goes on. Try as we might, we can’t escape it in this broken world. We feel trapped and imprisoned by these things we cannot change, and they weigh heavily on us. When I read the verse for today, I was struck by the explanation in my Bible for the word, “relief.” It literally means, “make room for me in tight places.” Wow. I can totally identify with that idea!

 

I know what it feels like to want someone to come along and make room for me in my tight places. Someone to remove the boundaries and burdens which threaten to smother me with their nearness. My stress level mounts, my blood pumps in my ears, and my hope takes flight. Whether it is the little irritations in life like being stuck in a car with a screaming toddler, or the big burdens of wondering about the future of my husband’s job, I know these tight place feelings all too intimately.

 

We all do.

 

I love that this verse shows us Someone who can come and offer relief. So many times, we try to make our own space in our tight places—handling things on our own and attempting to solve problems without ever calling on the One who best knows how to make room for us. He is faithful to give us emotional elbow room, easing our burdens and offering us His wisdom. He shows us mercy when we call on Him, hearing our prayers and rescuing us from tight places. The next time you feel stressed, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, call out to Christ and let Him find you in your tight place, and make room where you thought there was none.

 

Dear Lord, thank You for being the God who is near. When our tight places press in on us, Your presence is what we need. Thank You for offering us relief no matter what our circumstances. Help us to remember to call on You in our tight places. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

 

Escaping the Stress Trap by Mary Southerland

 

30 Days to Taming Your Stress by Deborah Smith Pegues

 

Visit Marybeth Whalen’s blog

 

Application Steps: 

The Bible tells us to “take captive” every thought. Determine some personal steps today that will help you remember to call on God in those stressful moments instead of giving in to panic or worry.

 

Reflections: 

What does your tight place look like today?

 

Have you called on God for relief? Have you asked Him to make room in your tight place?

 

How would relying on God help you deal with stress?

 

Power Verses:

Psalm 94:13, “You grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked.” (NIV) 

 

Psalm 143:1, “O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” (NIV)

 

Lamentations 3:55-57, “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’” (NIV)

 

 

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

 

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