There was a toy we used to play with called Stretch Armstrong.  It really is not an exciting toy, as it literally just stretches and goes back into place.  That is the fun part, and we always wanted to see if we could stretch it so far it would finally snap!  We tried so hard but could never get him to tear or snap under the tension of being stretched so much.

Sometimes I feel like Stretch Armstrong.  Life pulls in different directions; one arm goes this way, a leg goes that way, and I feel like I’m about to come apart.  Maybe for you it is financial stress, tension and worry from a serious illness, the tediousness of work, can’t find work, difficult kids, difficult parents, distance between you and your spouse, loneliness, not being enough, fear of failure, other deep seated lies–the list can go on and on.  It is in those moments when I begin to cry out where is the Shepherd?  Where is His rod and staff?  Is He with me?  Why don’t I see Him, why don’t I feel close?  Then snap the tension overwhelms and causes me to break.

As much as I blame life’s tensions, the real issue might be my expectations. I expect God to work the way I want Him to.  Can you relate?  I want him to lead me in green pastures and never dark valleys.  When the valley comes, when the enemy prowls, when I feel fear and God doesn’t do what I want, I feel like I’m going to snap under the tension.

BUT it’s being stretched in the tension that God works in us (1 Peter 1:6-7).  He is refining, transforming, and molding (Romans 9:21).  He does not waste the pain, the suffering, the heartache–no He takes out the imperfections, He straightens the crooked, He remains with us.  He uses the tension and does things His way for our good even when it doesn’t feel like it.  Jesus did something that did not make sense to this world, and He did it so even in the midst of the valley, the darkness, the tension, even in our incorrect expectations we could see light, we could be with Him, and be restored.

Read and rest in Hebrews 12:1-3.  If you are being stretched, we are here for you.

Father we need you to make your power perfect in our weakness, allow us to accept your grace and may it be sufficient for today.  Amen.

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