We’re all under pressure at times. We all need someone to share our burdens with, even those who spend a lifetime trying to encourage others. When the added stress of the outside world enters in, we’ve got a recipe for depression, anxiety, feelings of failure and many other mental health issues. There may be times when we simply need to step back and say, “no.” That word itself is a negative and our world wants to believe that everything should have a positive outcome or a win. I’m thinking about the events that led up to yesterday as an amazing athlete decided to say, “no.” The mental stress and pressure was too much for her and she chose to step down from a possible gold medal.
Are we guilty of setting our young people up for this kind of anguish? I’m not sure where the blame lies, but it seems as though our kids don’t really have much time to be kids anymore. When they enter school, the competition begins. Prior to that, it was all about them and now there are others to contend with. Encouraged or pushed to excel has become the norm in this age of the GOAT. When I first heard that term, I thought it was in reference to the sheep and goats mentioned in the Bible. Then I realized that it was an acronym for The Greatest of all Time. Why on earth would we want to put that kind of stress on our children? Well to some folks, competition builds character and winning is everything. While others believe that God is the Greatest of all Time and He has already mapped out our successes and failures.
In the past 20 years we’ve seen an increase in teen suicide. We hear about kids being prescribed anti-depressants so they can cope. At the same time, those kids are being influenced by an ever growing reliance on the internet and social media, rather than actual face to face communication. Do you think they may be connected? They also receive many mixed messages about self-image, sexual preference, gender identity, racism, religion and everything they have thus far believed is being challenged. Who wouldn’t be stressed? It stresses me out to even think about what our youth have on their plates right now.
Some think that clearing the mind of outside influences works, but I’ve tried to escape the daily news and yet unless I become a hermit, that’s not going to happen. Meditation or getting in touch with our inner whatever just exacerbates the problem. We may not like what we discover about ourselves and how is that going to help anyone? The world has many solutions for us. We can try to free our minds with prescription drugs, but then we become reliant on the substance. We can nourish a hobby that keeps our mind occupied with other things. We might talk to a psychiatrist or counselor. As a last resort, we can turn to the only manual for living that contains an answer for every situation – the Word of God – but why should that be a last resort?
God tells us to come to Him when our hearts are troubled. He wants us to rely on Him for comfort, peace and encouragement. He fills our every need. His Word discloses this fact throughout the Old and New Testaments. His love for us endures forever, so we can be confident that He will never forsake us – even when our hearts are hurting.
If you have been encouraged by someone today, thank them and pray for them too. We all need God’s comforting arms wrapped around us – even those whose hearts are overflowing with encouragement.