Devotions

A Life In Balance

May 31, 2021
“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6 (NIV)
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I’m guessing you can relate because most of us push ourselves well beyond our limits these days. Our margins — the space between ourselves and our limits — have grown smaller and smaller. Often our bodies send us signals to slow down, rest and recover in order to restore healthy balance to our lives. But we tend to keep ignoring those signals and pushing through until a health crisis, panic attack or severe depression forces us to slow down.

Which explains why God’s Word says, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6). Because we have two hands, we feel pressured to keep both filled at all times. We assume if we can do something, then we have to do it — but that’s not true! Not everything doable is sustainable. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

More and more health experts agree it’s better to know your limits, uphold your boundaries and create margin in your life. Recent studies reveal that our stress, anxiety and depression often result directly from our life imbalance, echoing the truth in Scripture. Dr. Stephen Ilardi, a clinical psychologist and depression researcher, sums up this lifestyle problem in his book, The Depression Cure: “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, fast-food laden, sleep-deprived, frenzied pace of modern life.”

Now please understand I’m not trying to negate or minimize people suffering from depression for reasons beyond their control. Our genes and biology can contribute to our depression, though they still shouldn’t control the outcome of our lives. And there are real neuro-chemical changes that can happen when you become depressed that can make it even harder to get out of the dark cave of distress and despair.

But our imbalanced lives may hurt us more than we realize.

If we want to restore balance in our lives and improve our physical, emotional and spiritual health, then we need to make some changes in our choices, habits and routines. Most recent research on depression concludes that if our schedules overwhelm us and rarely include rest, then we’re more likely to experience depression. Similarly, if we never put down our phone or get away from the computer and experience the beauty of God’s creation outdoors, then we’re more likely to feel depressed. Without a social life and daily human connection to others, people are more likely to be depressed (though it’s true that most people have been deprived of socialization because of the pandemic).

Restoring balance and overcoming the depression caused by my imbalanced lifestyle has often been challenging. But I’ve learned to stop trying to do everything and instead consider what God has called me to do. I’ve stopped saying yes to everything and looked for ways to strengthen boundaries around my priorities. If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s likely a clear no. I’ve created margins of time between appointments and eliminated commitments that drain too much out of me for what they involve. I’ve focused on making my greatest contribution to the people and priorities I cherish most.

You can make the same kinds of choices. They’re hard at first, but they’re more than worth it. Knowing that your life is short and that you have a finite amount of time and resources, focus on God and His priorities for your life. Consider what you can let go and what you can hold loosely. Let yourself enjoy the tranquility of one handful.

Dear Lord, I want to focus on You and find balance in my life. Help me to stop chasing the wind and to start spending more time in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES

Want to restore balance in your life? Then join Chris Hodges to explore Out of the Cave: Stepping into the Light When Depression Darkens What You See. Whether you are experiencing depression or want to help others win this battle, this book provides practical steps from God’s Word for healing and balancing your life.

CONNECT

Chris Hodges is senior pastor at Church of the Highlands and author of What’s Next? and Out of the Cave. Experience more of his teaching at www.churchofthehighlands.com.

Enter to WIN your very own copy of Out of the Cave by Chris Hodges. To celebrate this book, Chris’ publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, June 7, 2021.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

What areas of your life are out of balance? What step can you take today to restore harmony?

© 2021 by Chris Hodges. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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