Megan France, LCPC
Therapist, Timberline Knolls
A few years ago, I was having a conversation with my pastor about my struggles managing the stress in my life. At the time, I was also working with families that were impacted by complex trauma and PTSD. It was overwhelming to continually try to find ways to help these individuals whose lives had been torn apart by abuse, death, violence, poverty and other tragedies. I often found myself caught between feelings of helplessness and powerlessness when facing these tragic circumstance, which led, in turn, to feelings of anxiety or despair.
My pastor recommended that I read a book written by his own spiritual director, Dr. Bill Gaultiere, entitled You Can Live in Jesus’ Easy Yoke: With His Rhythms of Grace for Your Daily Stress. This book outlined what it means to live in the peace of Christ. Dr. Gaultiere described how, in Scripture, Jesus offers us a way to live hopefully and joyfully even in the midst of great pain and difficulties.
At the time, I remember wondering how it would be possible to face so much stress and pain and yet stay positive and joyful. Many Scriptures exhort us to rejoice in the midst of suffering and to even consider our trials and tribulations blessings in our lives, but how was I to do that in the face of tragedy?
James 1:2-4 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Moreover, Romans 5:3-5 states, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
As I was reading the book, I came across a chapter on facing stress that encouraged readers to “smile in the storm” (Gaultiere, 2010, pp. 53-82). In this chapter, the author used the example of when Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4:35-41. While the storm raged and the disciples panicked, Jesus slept calmly in the stern. When they awoke Jesus, He calmed the storm and then rebuked the disciples, saying “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).
After reading this passage, I realized that I am too often like the disciples. Watching the storms rage around me, I panic and question what God is doing and where He is in the midst of the storm. I quickly despair and forget that God is with me and that He protects me. I should take Jesus’ example. Knowing that He is safe and protected by His Father, He can sleep in the midst of the storm and even smile and rejoice.
The more that I grow in my faith, the more I learn that spiritual depth and growth is marked by one’s resiliency and ability to stay faithful and joyful despite all of the curveballs that life throws our way. I believe that a key to this kind of maturity is continued dependency on Jesus and faith in God’s sovereignty. The more that we rest in the Father and live in the “easy yoke” of Jesus, the more that we can truly stand strong through the storm, and perhaps even smile in the midst of it too!
Megan France, LCPC has worked as a Clinical Lead and Primary and Family Therapist at Timberline Knolls since July of 2016. Megan has experience working in community mental health, foster care and in a partial hospitalization program. She is passionate about helping people to find hope and healing through treatment and incorporating faith into one’s recovery process.