So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT
When stress erupts and disruption turns life upside down, each of us handles the storm differently. Mental health advocate, Kay Warren, points out that, in a crisis, we all might be battling the same storm, but not everyone has the same emotional resources with which to weather it. If a storm of tumultuous times hits when you are in a relatively healthy place emotionally and financially, you might be able to make it through like someone aboard a stable yacht. Others may find themselves rowing mightily in a leaky rowboat or worse, down in the waves, desperately clinging to only a log.
Problems really show up, though when you are stuck in that leaky rowboat along with the most important people in your life—your mate, your kids and maybe even extended family. When you’re stuck in a difficult situation, with no break in the storm on the horizon, you know what happens, right? Our less-than-best sides of our personalities suddenly show up. Others accuse you of “being in a bad mood,” being “grumpy, grouchy, irritable.” You, on the other hand, begin to notice the incredibly annoying way your mate chews, or breathes or blinks, for that matter. And when did your kids become world champions at whining and fighting with each other over everything?
What is happening, in official terms, according to Dr. Bruce Perry, an expert on the effect of adverse experiences on people, is that stress shifts our regulatory capacities. It moves us away from our usual ability to regulate our feelings and be resilient to the ups and downs of life. “There is an escalation of dysregulated behaviors, especially in kids,” Dr. Perry explains.
The phenomenon is nothing new. When Jesus and his disciples were on their final trip to Jerusalem, things seemed tense. “The disciples were filled with awe,” Mark 10 says, “and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus explained what the situation was to be: ‘Listen, he said, ‘we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed…They will sentence him to die and…Hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”
Not unlike two kids, James and John then blurt out, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” (Mark 10:32). Can you imagine how that went over with the other disciples, right after Jesus revealed the details of his death? Yes, that “dysregulated behavior” often is demonstrated by what comes out of our mouths!
James and John needed grace extended to them and so do we. The good news is this: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews tells us. (Hebrews 4:15-16) “Because we have a great High Priest the throne of God is a throne of grace.” John Piper explains, “And the help we get at that throne is mercy and grace to help in time of need. Grace to help! Not deserved help — gracious help.”
In times of stress, we may need to lower the expectations we place on ourselves to be productive and concentrate on simply asking Jesus to give us the ability to be a calm presence to those around us. He understands your need for grace and help and offers it to you now.
Resource reading: Hebrews 4:12-16
 Hope for Mental Health Community with Dr. Bruce Perry. Hope for Mental Health Community with Dr. Bruce Perry, April 26, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/KayWarrensPage/videos/221359749316417/?v=221359749316417&external_log_id=dfa3a8adb311f83825eb054bc95cdd83.
 Piper, John. “Draw Near to the Throne of Grace with Confidence.” Desiring God, May 15, 1996. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/draw-near-to-the-throne-of-grace-with-confidence.