[Editors note: This is an excerpt from the book Exstresso: Taking a Coffee Break with God by Leah Whitton with Jessica Casarez. I received a copy of the book for review, and this excerpt is uesd with permission. I absolutely love this devotional! I’m not a big coffee person (in fact, I really only like espresso) but the coffee break theme of the book just makes it cute. It’s refreshing to read (and I go through a lot of devotionals!) with its STIR method which stands for Scripture, Thoughts for the Day (the devotional/story aspect) Invitation to Prayer, and Respond (questions for the reader). I chose a devotional from the second week of the book to share, aptly titled “Exstresso.” It really summed up what the whole book was about for me! Enjoy.]
Week 2, day 1
By Leah Whitton
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
Thoughts for the Day
Have you ever been stressed? I would imagine most of us have been or currently are under a lot of stress. Life is stressful and messy at times.
When you combine “ex” with “stress,” you get “ex-stress,” which means without stress. How can we live without stress?
When we call out to God, he answers us and can help us live a life with less stress. One of the Greek words in the Bible for stress is thlipsis, which means pressure, burdens, affliction, or trouble. When Stephen was preaching in Acts 7:9-14 about Joseph from the Old Testament, he used the word thlipsis to describe Joseph’s plight. If anyone had a right to be stressed, it was Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of rape by Pharoahs’ wife, and thrown into prison and forgotten-all while being completely innocent and serving God. Joseph could have asked God: Where are you? Why have you left me?
Have you ever caught yourself asking those same questions? I know I have had times in my life where I had to go through extremely challenging, stressful, and heartbreaking situations, yet God was with me through each of those seasons.
In the year of 2001, I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were thrilled and anxious for our son’s arrival. On December 27, around 10:00 p.m., something was about to change. We had not anticipated any problems—we expected joy, not stress—but suddenly our situation changed. Hudson was born with an aggressive infection called Strep B. This infection was so powerful it began to shut down every working system in his little body. The doctors estimated that he only had a 50% chance of survival. So, here we were, brand new parents, not knowing what to expect, and feeling the heartache of possibly losing our newborn son.
Hudson was placed in the NICU and was not improving. He was living on a respirator and IV antibiotics. The worst of it was that I was not able to hold him or touch him because it affected his blood pressure too much. I was at the end of my rope and I remember screaming out to God saying,
“If you are really God, you will send someone here face-to-face to tell me audibly that my son will be healed and that he will come home with us.”
That evening, a young pastor who we were friends with felt a strong sense that God was telling him to drive to our hospital. He wrestled a bit (especially because of the time and the distance) and he asked God if he could just called the hospital. “No,” God said, “You must go.” Around midnight that evening, this young pastor showed up in our hospital room. He told us God had woken him up and that he was supposed to come and tell me face-to-face that my child would live and he would come home with no complications. I called out to God in my stressful time and He answered my prayer in a powerful way. God showed himself faithful. The next day, Hudson began to improve and two weeks later came home 100% healthy.
During Joseph’s distress, he called out to God. Joseph didn’t allow stress to overwhelm him, and thus “God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.”
Joseph could have let stress swallow him up, but instead he brought his stress to God. Life will bring stress, but before letting that stress consume you, drink a good cup of God’s “exstresso” (God’s grace, mercy, and love) and allow him to bring healing to every area of your life. 1 Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Hold onto that scripture when you walk through stressful times. God was with us through the horrible nightmare we faced when my son was born, and he will be with you also.
Release your stress to him today and have a coffee conversation with God who is ready to carry your burdens.
[Closing Editor’s Note: This is a good opportunity, in light of a blog post about “stress” to say that I’m experiencing a lot of it in my life and I’m going to honor taking more time for rest and family. I’m transitioning, starting now, to a one post per-week Devotional Diva Lite schedule for the time being. Thanks for understanding!]
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