In Times of Stress and Struggle

Proverbs 17:24 NRSV
The discerning person looks to wisdom,
but the eyes of a fool to the ends of the earth.

These are dire times. In most cases, regardless of the time of life or the circumstances surrounding us, these are dire times. There are few days of rest and relaxation, many days of concern and emotional buffeting. And in those times of stress and struggle, we often wear ourselves out looking for solutions to our problems rather than simply laying those problems at the feet of our Savior. In illness, we search for medicines and doctors and treatments. In financial distress, we search for jobs and loans and money. In emotional distress, we search for friends and relationships and happiness. Scripture tells us that “the discerning person looks to wisdom.”

And, fortunately for us, wisdom isn’t a what, but a Who. Wisdom is our Lord who is all knowledge, all wisdom, all solutions to our problems. The psalmist writes:

    I lift up my eyes to the hills
    from where will my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
    Psalm 121: 1-2 NRSV

Our help doesn’t come from the heavens or the earth, but rather from the Creator of them. The “eyes of the fool” look to the ends of the earth for solutions to problems. The discerning look to the Creator of the earth.

S. D. Gordon, a Christian from the turn of the previous century (1856-1936) once wrote:

    “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray before you have prayed.” It’s a quotation that I printed and framed and have hanging on my office wall. The fact is, we cannot seek solutions to our problems unless we have first sought the Lord. He is the solution to all of our problems and the discerning person looks to Him before she looks to do anything else.”

S. D. Gordon writes further:

    “The greatest thing any one can do for God and for man is to pray. It is not the only thing. But it is the chief thing. A correct balancing of the possible powers one may exert puts it first. For if a man is to pray right, he must first be right in his motives and life. And if a man be right, and put the practice of praying in its right place, then his serving and giving and speaking will be fairly fragrant with the presence of God. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray.

    I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean these people who take time and pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. This something else is important. Very important, and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer. There are people that put prayer first, and group the other items in life’s schedule around and after prayer. These are the people today who are doing the most for God; in winning souls; in solving problems; in awakening churches; in supplying both men and money for mission posts; in keeping fresh and strong these lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field where the thickest fighting is going on; in keeping the old earth sweet awhile longer. It is wholly a secret service.

    We do not know who these people are, though sometimes shrewd guesses may be made. I often think that sometimes we pass some plain-looking woman quietly slipping out of church; gown been turned two or three times; bonnet fixed over more than once; hands that have not known much of the softening of gloves; and we hardly give her a passing thought, and do not know, nor guess, that perhaps she is the one who is doing far more for her church, and for the world, and for God than a hundred who would claim more attention and thought, because she prays; truly prays as the Spirit of God inspires and guides.

    Let me put it this way: God will do as a result of the praying of the humblest one here what otherwise he would not do. Yes, I can make it stronger than that, and I must make it stronger, for the Book does. Listen: God will do in answer to the prayer of the weakest one here what otherwise He could not do” (from

In the midst of our storm, rather than be obsessed with doing, we should be obsessed with praying, with seeking out the wisdom that comes from the Father and with which He is fully ready and able to take care of the storm for us if we will but allow Him to do so.