After I’d gotten settled into the chamber, my body floating comfortably above the water, the room went dark and the gentle music that had been playing in the background went silent. I’d read that isolation tanks were therapeutic, offering relief for stress and anxiety. But this was like nothing I’d ever encountered. It felt like the chaos of the world had stopped, and I could clearly hear my innermost thoughts. I left the experience balanced and rejuvenated, reminded that there is power in stillness.
We can rest most comfortably in the stillness of the presence of God, who renews our strength and grants us the wisdom we need to tackle the challenges we face each day. When we’re still, silencing the noise and removing distractions in our lives, God strengthens us so we can hear His gentle voice more clearly (Psalms 37:7).
While sensory deprivation chambers are certainly one form of stillness, God offers us a simpler way to spend uninterrupted time with Him. He says, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6). God will guide our steps and allow His righteousness to shine brightly through us when we seek the answers to life’s challenges in the stillness of His magnificent presence (Psalm 37:5–6).
In 2009, a research team at Stanford University studied more than two hundred students in an experiment that included switching between tasks and memory exercises. Surprisingly, the study found that students who viewed themselves as good multitaskers because they were in the habit of doing several things at a time, did worse than those who preferred to perform one task at a time. Multitasking made it more difficult to focus their thoughts and filter irrelevant information. Maintaining focus when our minds are distracted can be a challenge.
When Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home, Martha was busy working and “distracted by all the preparations” (Luke 10:40). Her sister Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus teach, gaining wisdom and peace that would never be taken away from her (vv. 39–42). When Martha asked Jesus to encourage Mary to help her, He responded, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (vv. 41–42).
God desires our attention. But, like Martha, we’re often distracted by tasks and problems. We neglect God’s presence even though He alone can provide the wisdom and hope we need. When we make spending time with Him through prayer and meditating on Scripture a priority, He’ll give us the guidance and strength we need to address the challenges we face.
The most powerful orators in history are often those leaders who have used their voices to bring about positive change. Consider Frederick Douglass, whose speeches on abolition and liberty spurred a movement that helped lead to the end of slavery in the United States. What if he’d chosen to be silent? We all possess the capacity to use our voice to inspire and help others, but the fear of speaking out can be paralyzing. In the moments when we feel overwhelmed by this fear, we can look to God, our source of divine wisdom and encouragement.
When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, he immediately began to doubt his own abilities. He cried out, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). But God wouldn’t allow Jeremiah’s fear to get in the way of his divine calling to inspire a generation through his voice. Instead, He instructed the prophet to simply trust God by saying and doing whatever He commanded (v. 7). In addition to affirming Jeremiah, He also equipped him. “I have put my words in your mouth” (v. 9), He assured him.
When we ask God to show us how He wants to use us, He’ll equip us to carry out our purpose. With His help, we can boldly use our voice to make a positive impact on those around us.
As I prepared to ride a zip-line from the highest point of a rainforest on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia, fear welled up inside me. Seconds before I jumped from the platform, thoughts of everything that could go wrong filled my mind. But with all the courage I could muster (and few options for turning back), I released. Dropping from the pinnacle of the forest, I whizzed through the lush green trees, wind flowing through my hair and my worries slowly fading. As I moved through the air allowing gravity to carry me, my view of the next platform became clearer and, with a gentle stop, I knew I’d arrived safely.
My time on the zip line pictured for me the times God has us undertake new, challenging endeavors. Scripture teaches us to put our trust in God and “lean not on [our] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). when we feel doubt and uncertainty. When our minds are filled with fear and doubt, our paths can be unclear and distorted. But once we’ve made the decision to step out in faith by submitting our way to God, “He will make [our] paths straight” (v. 6). We become more confident taking leaps of faith by learning who God is through spending time in prayer and the Scriptures.
We can find freedom and tranquility even in life’s challenges as we hang on to God and allow Him to guide us through the changes in our lives.
On November 4, 1966, a disastrous flood swept through Florence, Italy, submerging Giorgio Vasari’s renowned work of art The Last Supper under a pool of mud, water, and heating oil for over twelve hours. With its paint softened and its wooden frame significantly damaged, many believed that the piece was beyond repair. However, after a tedious fifty-year conservation effort, experts and volunteers were able to overcome monumental obstacles and restore the valuable painting.
When the Babylonians conquered Israel, the people felt hopeless—surrounded by death and destruction and in need of restoration (Lamentations 1). During this period of turmoil, God took the prophet Ezekiel to a valley and gave him a vision where he was surrounded by dry bones. “Can these bones live?” He asked. Ezekiel responded, “
When we feel as if things in life have been broken and are beyond repair, God assures us He can rebuild our shattered pieces. He’ll give us new breath and new life.
My sister and I clashed frequently when we were younger, but one time especially stands out in my memory. After a bout of yelling back and forth where we’d both said hurtful things, she said something that in the moment seemed unforgivable. Witnessing the animosity growing between us, my grandmother reminded us of our responsibility to love each other: “God gave you one sister in life. You’ve got to show each other a little grace,” she said. When we asked God to fill us with love and understanding, He helped us acknowledge how we’d hurt each other and to forgive one another.
It can be so easy to hold on to bitterness and anger, but God desires for us to experience the peace that can only come when we ask Him to help us release feelings of resentment (Ephesians 4:31). Instead of harboring these feelings, we can look to Christ’s example of forgiveness that comes from a place of love and grace, striving to be “kind and compassionate” and to “[forgive] each other, just as in Christ God forgave [us]” (v. 32). When we find it challenging to forgive, may we consider the grace that He extends to us each day. No matter how many times we fall short, His compassion never fails (Lamentations 3:22). God can help us remove bitterness from our hearts, so we’re free to remain hopeful and receptive to His love.
Soccer player Christian Pulisic faced several injuries that influenced the course of his career. After learning he wouldn’t be in the starting lineup of the Champions League semifinals game, he was disappointed, but he described how God had revealed Himself to him. “As always, I reach out to God, and He gives me strength,” he said. “I feel like I always have Someone who’s with me. I don’t know how I would do any of this without that feeling.” Pulisic ultimately made a momentous impact when he was substituted later in the game. He initiated a clever play that led to the game-winning shot and secured their spot in the championship. These experiences taught him a valuable lesson: we can always view our weaknesses as opportunities for God to reveal His immeasurable power.
The world teaches us to rely on our own strength when encountering problems. However, biblical wisdom teaches us that God’s grace, power, and willingness to intervene on our behalf amid life’s challenges will give us strength in the most trying circumstances (2 Corinthians 12:9). With this knowledge, we can move in confidence, recognizing that we never face trials alone. Our “weaknesses” become opportunities for God to reveal His power, strengthening and supporting us (vv. 9–10). We can then use our struggles to offer praise to God, giving thanks for His goodness and sharing these encounters with others so that they can come to experience His love.
Chinese medicine has practiced pearl powder exfoliation for thousands of years, using ground pearls to scrub away dead cells resting at the top of the skin. In Romania, rejuvenating therapeutic mud has become a widely sought-after exfoliant that’s purported to make skin youthful and glowing. All over the world, people use body care practices they believe will renew even the dullest of skin.
The tools we’ve developed to maintain our physical bodies, however, can only bring us temporary satisfaction. What matters more is that we remain spiritually healthy and strong. As believers in Jesus, we’re given the gift of spiritual renewal through Him. The apostle Paul wrote, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The challenges we face daily can weigh us down when we hold on to things like fear, hurt, and anxiety. Spiritual renewal comes when we “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen” (v. 18). We do this by turning our daily worries over to God and praying for the fruit of the Holy Spirit—including love, joy, and peace—to emerge anew in our lives (Galatians 5:22). When we release our troubles to God and allow His Spirit to radiate through us each day, He restores our souls.
“I just don’t think I can do this anymore,” my friend said through her tears as she discussed the overwhelming sense of hopelessness she faced as a nurse in a global health crisis. “I know that God has called me to nursing, but I’m overwhelmed and emotionally drained,” she confessed. Seeing that a cloud of exhaustion had come over her, I responded, “I know you feel helpless right now, but ask God to give you the direction you’re seeking and the strength to persevere.” At that moment, she decided to intentionally seek God through prayer. Soon after, my friend was invigorated with a new sense of purpose. Not only was she emboldened to continue nursing, but God also gave her the strength to serve even more people by traveling to hospitals around the country.
As believers in Jesus, we can always look to God for help and encouragement when we feel overburdened because “He will not grow tired or weary” (Isaiah 40:28). The prophet Isaiah states that our Father in heaven “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (v. 29). Though God’s strength is everlasting, He knows that we’ll inevitably have days when we’re physically and emotionally consumed (v. 30). But when we look to God for our strength instead of trying to sprint through life’s challenges alone, He’ll restore and renew us and give us the resolve to press on in faith.