“If Papa God tells you to build a shed, He’ll provide the nails.”
That’s a quote from one of my Too Blessed to be Stressed books from nearly a decade ago. At the time I wrote it, I had no inkling of the awful, interfering, sometimes debilitating stress we would encounter while building our assigned sheds – not just my own, but also the sheds of so many of my BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever). That would be you.
It’s become the 2020 decade plague: Constant everyday stress. The relentless kind with the power to alter the very fabric of our lives.
Stress ruthlessly imposed on us by impending danger medically, physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Daily insecurities and sleepless nights thick with worries and “what-ifs” about life, death, illness, cultural shifts, political division, racial unrest, impossible schedules, tanking bank accounts, relationship rifts, family strife, and faceless fears about the future.
This kind of stress has no end in sight. And that’s why it’s so draining. And depressing, if we dwell on it and constantly consider the repercussions on the way we wish our lives were going. We ache with longing for a stress-free existence that simply doesn’t exist.
We must learn to deal with so many joy-sucking downers … Discouragement. Disillusionment. Dread.
Just this week, I was discussing this very thing with a BFF who is just plain worn out from chronic everyday stress. She feels as if she has no control over her own life and is at the point of desperation. Her shed (the divine assignment from Papa God for her life’s work) is getting extremely difficult to build as the nails are becoming harder to find. She asked for my counsel.
I think my input probably was a little different than she expected. I said that the truth is: she’s absolutely right. We don’t. We don’t have control over our own lives; we have NO power to alter most of the chronic situations life hands us. We can more easily withstand transient, resolvable stress because we know this too shall pass. The nails for our shed are hidden in the weeds and will become visible again only when we learn to use a divinely ordained weed-whacker.
But faith is truly tested when we encounter stressful situations that out of necessity become woven into the very fabric of our beings with no resolution on the horizon. There’s no way of knowing how long the stress will continue. Your husband leaves. Your grown child refuses to speak to you. You’re downsized. Your longtime ministry dream fizzles. Your friend humiliates you. Bill collectors hound you.
Your partially-built shed sags and drops another board.
Yes, unrelenting stress does have the power to alter the very fabric of our lives. If we allow it.
I encouraged my friend, as I myself have been encouraged, to hang her trust on the biblical promise that Papa God WILL meet you where you are and enable you to bloom, not just limp along in reluctant, barren existence.
Don’t accept victimhood – it’s way too easy to slip slide into that woe-is-me pit. Satan has you backed up to the ledge, teetering, and is shoving you in the chest.
Believe me, I so get it. I’ve been there far too often. It’s hard, so hard.
We all feel like we’re drowning in chronic stress from time to time, but I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again (because it’s worth repeating): Living Philippians 4:6-7 OUT LOUD has been a game-changer for me in weathering the most stressful seasons of my life. I’m convinced it’s the only way to wield that shed hammer for the long haul.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have this incredible Truth tool sticky-noted everywhere I go during the day (computer desk, bathroom mirror, car console, etc.) and I recite it aloud every time I see it. Suddenly, shiny nails become visible through the weeds of my circumstances.
You see, it’s a promise … a covenant (an agreement between two or more parties). If you do this, I’ll do that.
- If we come to our heavenly Father in: (a) prayer and (b) thanksgiving (gratitude for the blessings we have, not dwelling on what we don’t),
- He promises to give us: (a) His supernatural peace and (b) contentment in all conditions in which we find ourselves.
Honestly, I cling to this hope-filled, peace-producing promise as my go-to, everyday covenant now and I’m living testimony to its powerful effectiveness. It’s the only way to find peace through pain. And joy through tears.
Make no mistake: peace and joy are galvanized shed nails, girlfriend. They last forever and make the hammer-pounding less … um, poundful.
But they rarely appear all at once and never in a tidy pile. They’re uncovered from beneath concealing weeds one by one with significant effort on our part. Sorta like the manna Papa God provided to the starving children of Israel in the desert after their exodus from Egypt. They were only given just enough for ONE day, and they had to re-exert the effort to gather their sustenance every single day.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread [manna] from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day …” (Exodus 16:4 NASB).
Likewise, the nails of peace, contentment, and joy that we need to keep building our own shed (life’s work) are provided for us by Papa God one day at a time and on an as-needed basis. So I think of them as manna nails.
Tell me, dearest BFF, what shed are you building? How do you come by your daily supply of manna nails?
Debora, I build my shed by recalling God’s past performance during and through difficult times. I have a “Thank You Lord” praise session and soon I forget what it was that I was stressed about. My shiny nails are visible and ready for building new hope, joy, and satisfaction with how good my heavenly Father is to me.. Thanks for sharing.
I love your attitude, Barbara! I’m convinced that those “Thank You Lord” praise sessions are essential for enabling us to keep collecting nails, even when they’re covered by weeds. Thank you for encouraging us all through your own experience; hope shared is hope restored. Thanks, sister, for taking the time to write.
I am just trying to keep the “shed of existence” from being blown away by the daily winds and rain that keep blowing at me without any break in the storm. God gives me the one nail I need just to hold on one day at a time. I sure wish the sun would come out and have the double blessing of a break from the storm and the light to see a couple of more nails.
It’s true, Sandi. I know. Your shed has been pounded by hurricane winds for the past few years that threaten to rip it apart. But I’m convinced that you’re right when you say we may only get one nail a day, but we must clutch it to our breasts with every last bit of strength we possess. Hang onto your faith, sister. It’s the only thing that’s REAL. Know that I am praying for you daily, and I’d like to ask our prayer warrior BFFs to lift you up before Papa God’s throne and ask Him to send you a ray of light today.
Thanks so much for your words of encouragement and your prayers!!
Always, Sandi! I’m praying for you daily.
Debra Carruthers says
Thank you Deb for this beautifully written reminder. I’m watching my daughter battle breast cancer. It’s so stressful to not be in control and not be able to heal her! I see God working on her spirit and it shows me He has a plan that I cannot understand. I feel blessed that she still feels well and can enjoy life. I’m learning to let go and let God, He knows best!
My heart goes out to you, Debra – I know firsthand how soul-wrenching it is to watch your child suffer and the helplessness you feel. Dearest BFFs, let’s lift Debra’s daughter up in prayer for healing both spiritually (as Papa God works on her spirit) and physically (her breast cancer). Let’s pray for Debra too, that God will give her wisdom and patience as she paces in His waiting room. We love you, sister!
Julie Blackmore says
I build my shed by fasting/praying/ standing on the promises of God! It is not easy….but if I don’t get weary in well doing …I will reap a harvest!
Many continuous blessings to you!
You are so right, Julie – it’s not easy. But like you, I’ve found that there’s really no other way to keep putting one foot in front of the other without leaning on the promises of God. They become our lifeline. Thank you for being such a faithful BFF and for taking the time to comment so often. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Hugs!
Deb, thank you for this! I needed to “hear” this. Our lives have been filled with chronic stress the past 2 years. When I look in the mirror I see that it has aged me and my husband.
My husband has had medical issues and procedures one after another including COVID, our son has gone through a long, nasty divorce and our eldest grandson has chosen to not see anyone from our side of the family for over a year, my mom has had to go from independent living to a nursing home due to dementia and getting physically weaker,
Thankfully my husband is doing his best to push himself to try to walk and regain strength. We have tried to eat healthy meals. The MAC gym has been a true blessing to both of us. Besides the wonderful walking track, exercise classes and weight machines, there is friendship and socialization. Being a Christian environment many days the devotional which is read at the start of class is exactly what I need to hear. We are grateful for the friendships we have formed and the prayer warriors among our friends. I am going to borrow your idea of the scripture sticky notes. Have a blessed day!
Oh, Carolyn, I’m so, so sorry to hear about your hardships. I’m stopping right now to lift you and your family in prayer. I hope that our other BFFs will too. It sounds to me like the MAC is a made-to-order “nail” Papa God has provided to help you stay afloat in life’s stress-pool. The friends you have there bless you, and you, I have NO doubt, bless them immensely. It’s in those hard times like you’ve been experiencing that we need Christian friends the most, isn’t it? Love you, sweet gal.
Patricia Manucy says
Thank you. I really needed the encouragement. Sending prayers up for the others who have commented too. I can relate to some of the struggles. Instead of building a nice, new shed, I’m mostly busy patching an old one and the materials for even that seem scarce.
Then I remember that I’m *His* workmanship (Eph 2:10). He has taken over the management of my life now and whatever He wants to build, He must provide. I’m a steward and remembering that has brought some much needed relief. Thank you very much, Debora, and Merry Christmas!
I’m so glad you’re praying for our other BFFs here, Patricia – my hope is that we become a true community of BFFs, lifting each other through prayer and encouragement. And as you said, relating to life struggles common to so many of us. It’s so much easier doing life together rather than separately, don’t you think? Thank you for your words of wisdom about us being stewards – managers, so to speak – of our sheds, but Papa God being the general contractor. It does bring a certain relief to know He’s large and in charge. Hugs!