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.
While waiting in line at the coffee shop on the other side of town, a familiar voice called my name. Before I turned around, I knew the face that would greet me. We weren’t meeting there to catch up. In fact, I had no idea my friend arrived moments after I walked...
Here's something incredible and wildly fascinating: there is a very clear theme in the books below. In fact, 90% of the books I considered for the September-December list circled around the same few topics/themes . . . this is, apparently, what we really need to hear...
I sit quietly in the chair as hair falls to the ground. She works quickly and with each snip of the scissors, another question comes my way: Remind me what you do for work? Are you dating anyone? Did you want layers today? I stare at my reflection in the mirror as I...
You are talented. Before you shake your head, deny those words, and click the little red X on this page, let me ask you a question: Do you remember the parable of the three servants who were given different amounts of talents? In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story about...
I wrote this article three weeks ago, Nana went Home two weeks ago, and Pap-Pop passed away exactly one year ago… to the day. As someone who loves and remembers dates/details, when I was assigned the May 12th article at incourage.me, I was confident it wasn’t a...
Somehow I managed to narrow it down from 40 to 12 last time (here's the January-April list) and I've kept it at a dozen again, but odds are slim I'll be able to go three times in a row. Y'all. As of right now, I have 32 titles bookmarked to potentially be part of the...
My mouth dropped open at the number on the screen. A few minutes earlier, a friend sent a text that a gift was on the way. “It isn’t much . . . but it’s something!” she said, knowing that medical bills were starting to show up and add up. Her “not much” brought me to...
A few weeks ago, I walked into the living room, still groggily wiping sleep from my eyes and mentally thinking through my to-dos for the day, and immediately started blinking back tears. I planted the bulb in December, watered it through January, and kept waiting for...
The post was originally published in the January 2021 issue of LifeWay’s HomeLife Magazine. I’m honored to be included in the print publication, and grateful for the opportunity to share the words with you here as well. As a new year begins and we say goodbye to all...
I'd like to begin by saying you're welcome for only including 12 books. I narrowed it down from a list of 40 titles, but based on the books I already have filed away for May-August, I make no promises for stopping with a dozen next time. But after 2020, "too many"...