Are You Stressed or in Distress?

Being stressed and being in distress are not the same thing. We can relieve stress by good preparation, but there is only One who can relieve our distress. #WomenLivingWell #stress #givingthanks

Life has dealt us all, a long list of things that weigh us down including laundry, dishes, relationship problems, financial issues, health scares, marital struggles and parenting fumbles.  We have stress from our to-do lists and clutter to manage and here come the holidays making our calendars full with activities.

How will we respond?

Under pressure – I pretty much crack.  Those closest to me have seen this – sometimes it comes out in tears, sometimes in an overflow of chattiness, sometimes in a temper and other times in a critical spirit.

One tool I have learned that helps me deal with the day to day stress is this handy little saying:

“Preparation relieves pressure.”

This is SO true. On the days that I wake early, have my quiet time, have dinner meat thawing and the kids school lessons all ready to go – the day starts out so much more smoothly than when I’m unprepared.

But here’s the thing – what about when I am totally prepared.  I’ve woken early, had my quiet time, I’m loving my husband and children the best I can and I’m serving the Lord and I’m “living my priorities” and I’m STILL totally stressed out.

Maybe something more is going on inside?  We can’t always work our way out of our stress.

Working harder does not solve the issues inside of our minds and the spiritual attacks and warfare we are facing in daily life.

Here’s what I’ve learned – too much on my to-do list and not enough time to get it all done, causes stress.

But extreme anxiety, worry, bitterness and emotional pain – is not called stress.

It is called – distress.

You see, I think there are a lot of women feeling “stressed out” because of their busy schedules.  Positive stress helps us accomplish things, energizes us, motivates us and helps us cope with the things life brings our way.

Good stress comes from things like getting married, a new baby,  buying a new home, starting a new job, taking a vacation or the holidays.

But when we are feeling broken, sad, depressed, anxious, and angry – this is bad stress.  This can come from a host of troubles like being the subject of gossip by others or feeling like things in our life are beyond our control – spiraling in a direction we can not stop.  Things like the death of a loved one, a divorce, failing health, financial issues, marriage problems, parenting problems or conflict with others.  These all lead to distress.

Are you stressed or in distress?

I received an email from a friend just a day ago saying – she is not just stressed, she is overwhelmed to the point of tears crying out to God for help.  And a few days before that, a close friend told a story of going to the dentist office and how she broke down in tears there – she cried and cried and she didn’t even know why she was crying! Lol!  Have you been there?  My hand is raised!

It happens!  Stress can push us past the brink of what is healthy for us emotionally.

So what do we do when perhaps we aren’t just stressed out — but there is something more going on in our lives?

Something deeper.


Give your thoughts over to God.

A passage of scripture that has been my safe place and help in times of distress is Isaiah 43:1-3.  God says:

Isaiah 43:1-3

CLICK HERE to print this image.

Do you hear all of these words of encouragement from the Lord to you.  He says:

Fear not!

You are redeemed.

I call you by your name.

You are mine.

I am with you.

These difficult times will not overwhelm you or consume you because I am the Lord your God – I am with you and I am your Savior.

Oh friends!  If you are in distress, as this holiday season creeps up on us, will you please print this scripture.  Print 10 copies if you have to. Put God’s Word – the truth – before you daily.  Meditate on this!

Let His Word comfort you, guide you, protect you, give you right thoughts and transform your mind and your life.  He loves you so!

Your pain has a purpose.

Perhaps it’s as simple as bringing you into a more intimate relationship with Him or maybe it’s more – perhaps God is taking you through the fire so He can more fully use you for His glory.

Take This Week’s “Giving Thanks for the Ordinary” Challenge:

Go to God in prayer today for yourself.  So many times we pray and pray and pray for other’s needs.  Pride can keep us from praying for ourselves.  Humbly light a candle, bow your knee and go to God in prayer.

Give thanks to God for His grace, for the ordinary in your life and then hide nothing from Him. Pour out your soul before His throne.  He loves you so.

Philippians 4:6,7 says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Are you longing for peace today?  No matter how high the waters or how hot the fire –God’s Word says you will not be overwhelmed or consumed because He is with you.

Fear not.  Let your heart and mind be at peace through focusing your thoughts on God and His truth today…and give thanks for the ordinary things in your life.  He loves you so.

Walk with the King,



Are you stressed or in distress? 

What is your favorite scripture to turn to, when you are overwhelmed?


  1. This is so true, Courtney! And I hope you don’t mind a man visiting your website. I actually also have a website. It is called Hand Of Love. If you would like to know more, search it on Facebook and message us if you want.

  2. I guess I never realized the difference between the two, stress and distress. So many times I say, “I’m so stressed out!!!” When really it’s other peoples “big rocks” that have some how landed on my plate and now I’m dealing with them. Taking on TOO much is definitely a weakness of mine, believing I can “do it all. This post is really going to help me determine what I feel at the moment, focus on what God has promised in the midst of turmoil, and take on each situation. I’m so blessed to have found this site! Thank you for your inspiration and support.

    1. Brittany,

      I have been learning this in my own life too as I try to sort out what things need to be taken off of my plate to lower my stress levels and what things need to be dealt with emotionally to lower my stress levels. I realized that sometimes I’m “stressed” when really I’m facing spiritual warfare and need to ask friends for prayer.

      So glad we can sort this out together!
      Lots of Love,

      1. This has been my life for a LONG time. I told my husband recently, I can’t even commit suicide because I am a Christian!!! The thought that committing suicide is something I would WISH I could do…I couldn’t believe I really feel that way. I am on distress OVERLOAD.

        1. You and me both. I completely understand how you feel! I am on overload. It seems that no one understands and when they try it is not good enough. I don’t know if it is me who is keeping me here or if it is the family I live with. How about if I pray for you, will you pray for me?

        2. OH Teresa and Samantha,

          My heart breaks for you both and the pain and heartache you must be facing. I’m so glad you are not giving up. You must not give in and let the enemy win! This is spiritual warfare – please read Ephesians 6:10-18:

          Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

          Do not give up – do not give in – stand strong in the strength of His might. Guard your heart – guard your mind and thoughts and persevere in prayer.

          Saying a prayer for you both now.
          Lots of Love,

  3. Wow, I think you wrote this post just for me. It’s funny, I’ve been struggling with fear and worry after all that’s been going on in the world. I felt impressed to go to your website tonight and found just what God wanted to speak to me. Thank you, once again, for being a willing vessel and letting God speak through you.

    1. Kristi –

      Yes – I worry about this world sometimes too – especially for my children.

      So glad we can encourage each other tonight. Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts!

      Lots of Love,

  4. Courtney, this was perfect for me right now too! I have been in distress lately. It seems every day has been bringing on a new worry that has totally weighed me down. I decided today to not live in fear anymore, but instead to focus on God’s promises to me! This blessed me so much tonight, I will be printing this verse and meditating on it daily!!

    Thank you for being such a postive influence!

    1. Candice,

      I’m so sorry you have been feeling this way. You are not alone. The weight of this world is too much to bear sometimes. I am so glad you have decided to no longer live in fear! Keep focusing on God’s promises. He will see you through.

      Lots of Love,

  5. Thank you Courtney for these precious thoughts! I have four children and an ailing 89 yr old Mum and a husband who is self employed in a very difficult economical climate. I have bn so overwhelmed by all of these responsibilities along with the terrible happenings in Europe this weekend. I have printed Isaiah 43 first thing this morning and am sticking it on my kitchen cupboard door!! Thank you for your faithfulness to Gods calling to encourage other women (and men!) – I am reading all the way from Northern Ireland! Have a blessed day! Love in Jesus. Fiona x

  6. Courtney,
    I never stopped to think about stress types. I can relate with distress lately and I love your verse and advice. This momma wants to destress this distress:). Thank you for sharing!!!!

  7. Yes, this post has God-inspired timing. Thank you, Courtney! These verses from Isaiah 43 have always been some of the most comforting to me when I am feeling both stressed or in distress. Thank you for sharing this reminder. No problem or worry is ever greater than God.

  8. Wow, This was for me today!! The Lord gave me and another co worker this verse years ago when we were going through some things at work and He brings it back when I am overcome by my circumstances. “smelling smoke” as we call it. Lately I have been smelling smoke and not realizing how much. We are dealing with an alcoholic son that refuses treatment. We have had to take his children out of the home. Thank you for this reminder that I will not be consumed even if I smell some smoke.

  9. Thank you for this devotion. I ask all who read this to pray for conflict in my family. Two of my brothers aren’t speaking to me because of incidents that happened over five years ago. Ive talked to them in the past and thought we’d resolved these issues. They remain angry, I continue to pray diligently each day for resolution. My niece is expecting her first child and my brother hasn’t called. My niece uninvited me to her wedding five years ago, my brother allowed it. I’m distressed, hurt, upset. Please, I beg you all, help me.

    1. Dear Ann,

      I am saying a prayer for your relationship with your brothers now. I pray that God will bring healing and reconciliation there.

      Stay strong in the Lord – keep clinging to Him – His love is perfect and unfailing. Even when people fail us – He does not.

      Lots of Love,

  10. How appropriate for me today. I have the normal stress of homeschooling, holidays, and balancing the calendar. But I didn’t really see how it is not those things which are to blame for how I feel lately. Those are the issues that I vocalize. The real problems are not the stress but the distress.
    I am broken over continual disappointment. Financial woes and the hurt of so many things not working out have taken a toll on me. I am trying not to be bitter and angry. So now, I’ve become quiet, reserved, uninvolved, sleeping more, engaging less. Totally not my personality. I guess it’s a defense mechanism.
    I agree, Courtney, that we can not work our way out of distress. I’ve tried that.
    Thank you for the reminder to claim scripture and pour out my heart to God. He alone can relieve my distress.

    1. Courtney I’m a newbie to you and your site has rocked my world. Bernita I’m with you. I’m withdrawn in order not to say hurtful things to hubby but doing nothing is is Gods will either. I want to do right but I can’t hardly stand to be with him! I my goodness I need help! Want to engage but don’t want to! Hang in there Betnita. I’ll pray for you!!

  11. Wow. It is surprising to see how many of us are feeling this way. Thanks so much for being open about this Courtney. It helps to not feel alone, especially when we are stressed and distressed. Thank you for the tools and scripture. I am praying for each of us that commented!

  12. What a beautiful verse! I just read about how God reminded Elijah he wasn’t alone. Reading through these comments made me realize I’m not alone in my stress or distress either!

  13. This message couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m a person who likes to stay busy and at times I take on more than I can chew. This has become a disappointment to people because I signed on to do something and at the last minute realize I simply can’t do it. I realize that I have placed myself in situations that I just have no control over or I have taken others problems that I simply don’t have a solution for. I’m starting to realize that it’s OK to want to help but it’s not healthy to take on so much at one time. It’s OK to say no, and to simply pray for the person or a situation. I don’t have the solution He does.

  14. Courtney,
    This spoke volumes to me today! I printed three copies of the for my office, one for my kitchen and one for my teenage daughter who has been under a lot of stress lately.
    Thank you for the reminder that God is always here for us!
    Thank you for your ministry!

  15. Yes God is true to His promises!! He is always there and only a breath away. I can relate to so many of you, especially about the lady whose brother is not speaking to her. I have had family members stop talking to me for more than 7 years and counting. Even after apologizing for what??? don’t know what I did, but I ask for their forgiveness anyway. But God will turn it around!! Remember God can’t lie, He is true to His word. Just wait and be patient and He will work it all out in His timing not ours. One of those family members approached me and the ice was broken. I am looking forward to reconciliation and a greater relationship!! Glory to God!

    1. I’m so glad there is reconciliation for you! Praise God! I too have to believe God is working. I am in a similar situation in which siblings don’t talk to one another. I actually stopped talking to my sister this past year and she called me a week ago to apologize. But there is still difficulty. My brother also doesn’t talk to this same sister. It’s a mess. If I think in a worldly way I would believe that we all could never reconcile, but when I believe that all things are possible with God, I have hope. I pray Brenda you will have continued healing in your relationship with this family member.

  16. I think those tears “for no reason” are important and very healing. Mine usually come in the shower (where I also do a lot of dancing and worshipping, lol) and I feel like they cleanse me of that distress.

  17. Sometimes it seems impossible to give God my distress. I wish my distress was as simple as relational or financial problems, but mine is much deeper and more painful. This is the second holiday season since my son was killed by a reckless driver. The sadness of the proverbial empty chair is difficult to just give over to God. I have daily reminders of my son’s absence because I’m raising his daughter. She is a delight, but I can’t stop thinking about all of his love she is missing out on. She was 11 days old at the time of his death so, she didn’t experience his excitement and pure love he had for her.
    I pray every day that she will some how know how much he loved her and had plans for her.

    1. OH Tara – I am so very sorry for your loss and pain that you walk in everyday. I can’t imagine the heartache you must feel. 🙁 Keep holding on to faith, hope and love. This little girl is so blessed to have you in her life. Stay strong,
      Lots of Love,

  18. Great blog post today. Thanks for the encouragement.

    If us women learned need to learn to say no and decline more events, our stress levels would go down dramatically. We always want to be people-pleasers and help others. Volunteer time, give money, stay up late doing this or that for someone. However, the focus of our attention must be our household and our family. All of the household’s needs must be met before we help others. It does us no good to be out serving food to the homeless while popping in frozen tv dinners for our family. Or, buying gifts for the needy creating more debt for the family if you have credit card debt. It is hard to say no during the holiday season, but we have to take care of our own household first and not feel guilty about it.

    1. I do feel that guilt around now. Even just for not packing one Operation shoe box for a needy child during the holiday! But yet we are struggling financially and I needed to take another job to make ends meet. I need to hear that it’s ok to take care of my own first. Thanks.

  19. Thank you so much Courtney. I needed to hear this message today. Just this morning, as I prayed, I realized I needed to call out to God and just pray “help!”. It felt almost uncomfortable to just pray for me but yet I knew it was right. I knew that He wanted me to call out to Him. And He wanted that fellowship. Meditating and believing in the truth of God found in in His Word has been a strong strength for me as of late. It has given me courage and comfort in ways I didn’t allow it to before. I will keep leaning on Him and begging Him to increase my faith and trust. He is Good!

  20. Romans 8:28 is my go-to. I believe Satan is prowling and attacking on so many fronts now. He must be desperate. We have authority to banish him in the name of Jesus Christ. I struggle with many of these things, but am getting better at remembering to tell him to get lost. Call in the King and his host. Thanks, Courtney.

  21. Thank you Courtney., this really hit home with me today. Im distressed and feeling defeated too often. Our family has had a really difficult year, and I find myself feeling very emotional alotbofthe time. My time with the Lord and in prayer with my husband is what gets me through. I feel so much better when I start my day with Jesus.
    Thank you for your blog!

  22. Thank you Courtney., this really hit home with me today. Im distressed and feeling defeated too often. Our family has had a really difficult year, and I find myself feeling very emotional alot of the time. My time with the Lord and in prayer with my husband is what gets me through. I feel so much better when I start my day with Jesus.
    Thank you for your blog!

  23. I struggle with defining my value on performance and that is what causes anxiety and worry. I know in my head the truth that my value is in Christ and I know the Word, but I don’t always embrace that in my heart.

    Thank you for sharing this and for being so honest and transparent.

  24. One thing that I’m taking from our Numbers study, and keeping in mind with this post on distress is that we have a God who can work miracles! If you have burdens cast them on the Lord, he can handle them! We were discussing the book of Daniel in Sunday School this week and we were taking about what it reveals to us about God, and ladies, when we cry out to God he has compassion for us! He hears our prayers, and he can give us his grace, his wisdom, his peace, and reveal mysteries! I too often feel “overbooked” and sometimes it feels like I have nothing left to give, but God sees our needs and he provides for us and never gives us more than we can handle. It helps to step back sometimes and just praise God for what is good, even when we are in distress! I just want to encourage you ladies to let the Lord restore you because he can!

    *The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”*

  25. Are you f***ing kidding me? Well, there’s 10 solid minutes of my life I will never get back. From the entire fibromyalgia community I just want to go ahead and offer a huge “f*** you” to the author of this bs. I attended Catholic school for 18 years and I have to say this author is an idiot. How about all the ill health effects women end up with because of stress? Adrenal dysfunction anyone? Hormonal imbalances? Lymph system dysfunction? Hypo/hyper- thyroidism? What about people with depression? Generalized anxiety disorder? Social phobias? You have actually CHOSEN to ignore ALL of the mental and physical health issues that could be going on for women – or any human being for that matter – when they reach this point of behavioral functioning. Courtney, you are by far one of the worst, most arrogant, religious nut-bag bloggers I have ever read in my life. Your “writing” does the entire universe a disservice. Close your laptop and go back to church before you make the world a worse place than it already is. I cannot believe I had to waste time reading your trash and I feel bad for everyone else who has to experience it.
    -A Legitimately Concerned Citizen

  26. Well this will be fun going after the last comment. After reading the last comment I now want to change my beginning slightly. I saw the last responder said they HAD to read this blog. I’m not sure why they HAD to read this particular post, but I HAD to as well. I used to read your blog daily. I was reading my bible and your blog and God was changing my life and my family’s life. And then somethings happened and I got out of the habit. Lately I have felt unmotivated, unhappy, and in a cycle of mediocracy in both my life and spiritual walk with God. I knew I needed to get back into my daily walk in life with the Lord. Today when opening up your site I should have just jumped right into this week’s reading plan, but I didn’t. I kept scrolling down until I saw this post. My husband and I just had this conversation together not even 30 minutes ago. God gave me the desire to stop my daily routine of busy and to find this.

    You never once said this verse would fix medical conditions. You just showed women that there is someone on their side. Sometimes in my busiest time of year, when I’m surrounded by the most people, I feel alone. Like I’m the one running 100 mph and there is no one for support. This verse helpes me know there is always someone on my side helping me and fighting for me. I believe! I know there are medical conditions out there. I’ve suffered from axiety for years. At the age of 29 they thought I was having a heart attack from anxiety and stress. I need littlle to no medicines when I’m regularly connecting with God. When I stop for Him I feel Him walking with me and it makes walking through the fire a whole lot better.

    I appologize for this being so long, but I want to say thank you for persevering daily and weekly through life to always bring us such wonderful studies. I know you’re very busy and it’s greatly appreciated. And I hope evereyone who sees Chris’ comment will know they are probably needing prayers. Lets show Jesus’ love and pray for God to bring them comfort and peace during this time in their life.

    1. Candace,

      Thank you so much for this encouraging comment! It means so much – especially after the previous one!!! Lol!

      Thank you and God bless!

      1. Courtney, just read the comment from “Concerned”. I will pray for her as it is clearly her condition which is speaking. One must be in great pain to write such words. Thanks for all your encouragement and biblical knowledge shared so freely with those of us who seek it..

  27. Thanks for such an awesome post. I feel distressed too often. My family passed a very difficult year. To overcome this situation, I spent most of the time in prayer.

  28. You made me laugh at how you said your hand was raised when crying at the dentist for no reason, I thought I was the only one. Lol! I love your blog and its been a blessing in my walk with the Lord. Your have blogs have made me cry and have made me reflect and are so inspiring. I thank the Lord I found your blog and I also pray for you that you continue with this that has been a blessing to soo many of us women out there to feel that we are not alone in our walk with God. To inspire us to do better in our family life, in our marriage and with our children. You just don’t know what a blessing you have been in life. YOu just don’t know how God used your blog to answer a prayer I had. I wish I could tell you in person, because I have you know that I am praying that I am able to one day meet you in person and tell you how God answered my prayer thru your blog. I am so Glad that women like you answer to God’s calling and do not coward down. Praying for you and your family! Love your blog!!!

  29. I am conscious that this post is a few years old , and maybe not even exist , but my sister sent me this , and it’s never a truer word .Distress utterly as my world seems to cave in under extreme situations , a survivor of childhood abuse and adult , a special needs momma on her own with many kiddos trying to find a way in this confusing world .A momma who, despite saying she has strong faith – needed to hear that it’s so much ok not to be ok , that even if my mother and father abandon me God loves me always . Some days the anxiety and PTSD ravage deep from within , and I know it isn’t because my faith isn’t strong enough or that I don’t pray enough , but that God is preparing me for more . Lord give us all strength in the distress and have grace abounding to admit that : today is not ok but God loves me

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