Distressed to Rest: Five Questions to Ask Yourself
“When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”
~ Psalm 4:4
Psalm 4 begins with a cry for help in distress. Verse one, “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
It ends with rest from the distress. Verse eight, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Who happens in the middle to bring about this change? The Psalmist does what some many of us have failed to do in difficult moments: he chooses his response instead of reacting, and regretting his reaction.
What if in the moment of distress- an emotional conversation, a betrayal, hearing disturbing news- what if we did like the Psalmist and got some perspective. He goes to his bed. He gets alone. He gets quiet. He chooses his response. He gains some valuable persepctive. Today many will call it “Getting on the balcony.”
I heard a helpful process of gaining perspective when we are in distress:
First, review what happened? Not what you think happened or wish had happened. What really happened. This is your impartial, unbiased analysis. Just the facts.
Second, what are you feeling? Here’s you get personal. Are you feeling shame or guilt about something you did? Are you feeling hurt or wronged by something someone else did? Get honest about what you are feeling.
Third, what story are you telling yourself? Let’s be honest- chances are your telling yourself a story that makes you the hero. You were unjustly wronged, or justly reacted to something or someone. Really? No, really?
Fourth, what does the Gospel Story say? Yeah, you’re basically asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” Jesus, the perfect son of God, took the death you deserved for sins he didn’t commit, to give you the gift of his righteousness. What does the Gospel demand of us who are saved?
Fifth, what story will you tell? Here is where you start to write the rest of the story. How will you respond and what will you do?
One last thing about part five-it will be counter-intuitive. That means it will probably go against your nature and natural inclinations. You probably already know the counter-intuitive response. It’s not difficult to figure out. It’s just difficult, or counter-intuitive, to follow through.
Whatever the Psalmist did when he went to his bed, alone, and got quiet with God. He worked it out, and things ended up working out. And he got a good nights rest!
When your distress has you up at night, pacing and pondering, get alone. Get quiet. Ask yourself these five questions as you take it to God. And chances are you’ll find peace too.