Holley Gerth is one of my very favorite people in all the world. That seems a bit dramatic, but I really mean it. I’ve read her words for over a decade, worked as her assistant for nearly seven years, and though sometimes I jokingly say she’s my boss, at the end of the day she’s a dear friend.
This summer I read an early copy of her newest devotional and knew right away—I want you to have her words, too. It’s my joy and honor to share Day One of What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times: 60 Powerful Truths to Protect Your Peace with you!
Think of the last moment when you experienced stress. It could have been at home or in traffic, in your kitchen or in a conference room, in the hallway of a hospital or as you scrolled through social media. It might even be right now as you’re reading these words.
What do all the times we experience stress have in common? The outcome feels uncertain. We don’t know if our dream will succeed or fail, if the conflict in our relationship will get resolved, or if the test result will come back the way we’d hoped.
Humans feel stress when we experience uncertainty, and there’s plenty of it in our world right now. It seems in the middle of all the challenges we face, some people have unshakable faith, that they never struggle with questions or doubts, fears or messy spiritual failures. It’s best you know right up front that I’m not one of them.
Instead, I often find myself worrying about the future. I picture the worst-case scenario—the world falls apart, completely runs out of coffee, or I make an epic and unredeemable mistake. Then I start asking, “Where are You, God? Why won’t You help me?”
In those moments, it helps to remember that when Moses asked God His name, the answer was simply, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Why does this matter in stressful moments? Because I AM is present tense.
God’s name is not I Was.
His name is not I Will Be.
His name is I AM.
This means the only place we can fully experience the presence of God is the present. So, of course, it feels like He’s not in our imaginary, worst-case scenario future. When we get to tomorrow, He will be there. But today He is exactly where we need Him to be—with us.
As Melissa Spoelstra, author of The Names of God study, says, “When Moses needed confirmation, Yahweh said, ‘Whatever you need, I AM.’ If you need a provider, I AM. If you need help, I AM. If you need deliverance, I AM.” Moses wasn’t in church or at a spa getting a pedicure when God spoke the name “I AM” to him. He was in a desert—a dry, lonely, difficult place. So we can take comfort in knowing God is with us even in our hard places. Our challenges do not change His character or commitment.
Paul writes in Romans 8:38, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Here’s what we all need to know in every stressful moment: God is with me right now.
God is with you right now.
And whatever tomorrow brings, He will be there too.
Prayer: God, thank you for always being with me. You are present in every stressful moment, and You alone can bring me the peace I need. I’m so grateful nothing can separate me from Your love. Help me trust you with everything that brings me stress, whether big or small, knowing You care about it all. Amen.
Quote: He’s with us in the big and the small, leaving His fingerprints on every page of the story, forever reminding us: Remember My goodness here. Look around. Do you see Me? I’ll hang the clouds in the sky and fling stars into the velvet night all so that you remember in both daylight and darkness, I’m with you always. – Kaitlyn Bouchillon (it feels pretty strange to include my own words in this excerpt, but it is in fact the quote printed in the book for Day One. So, include it I shall. Thanks for your kindness here, Holley.)
I’ve read all of Holley’s devotional books and What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times: 60 Powerful Truths to Protect Your Peace is my favorite yet.
Each entry/devotional follows the same format:
– a short and relatable story
– followed by Scripture, practical take-aways, and non-fluffy encouragement
– ending with a short prayer, a question to consider, and an inspiring quote
I’ll return to What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times again and again (truth: I’ve already read through it four times) . . . but it’s also one I’ll give several friends. The topic is especially timely and the content is approachable, thoughtful, well-written and encouraging. If you’ve been stressed lately (and honestly, who actually feels 100% easy-breezy given All The Things right now), this devotional is for you. You can order a copy here or, for weekly encouragement, follow Holley on Instagram.