“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?. – Psalm 118:5-6
Today it seems like everyone is stressed. Yes, it’s true that we’re built for and we have learned to withstand a certain amount of stress. Stress can make us tougher and better problem solvers when we learn to deal with it. But a little stress goes a long way. There’s only so much we can take.
Have you ever been at a store and taken out a bottle of soda only to drop it and watch it roll on the floor. It has obviously been shaken up. The contents are now under a lot of pressure. Your first and maybe final inclination is to put the soda back in the cooler and take a new one. But you know if someone buys that soda in the next hour they are going to get a big surprise. So you grab another bottle, careful not to mix the two up. You will drink the shaken one later when the pressure dissipates. You wait because there’s no safe way to open the can after it’s been shaken up. It is the same way with stress in our lives.
You and I were also designed to bear a certain amount of physical, mental and emotional strain. When we take on more than we can handle, we eventually get shaken. Stress and worry are a normal part of life. So the question is how should we deal with it? Many people internalize the stress and end up suffering consequences. The good news for Christians is that God gives us a strategy to deal with pressure in a healthy and non-consequential fashion.
“…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.” – Philippians 4:6-7.
Of course, it is not that easy. There is some irony at play here. As I was preparing to teach on stress, I found myself, well stressed. I mentioned the reasons on Sunday: Having 7 mortgage payments taken out on the same date and the flooding of my house. Other times I have been stressed over other things, some important and some not so important. But then it dawned on me that worrying never solved anything. And I remember that God is with me. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – ”Deuteronomy 31:6.
So don’t worry. Replace worry with prayer. Let God know your concerns. A sense of God will settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. The ultimate question at stake here is this: “do I really believe God is good and He knows what He’s doing?” You see, much of the pressure we let build up in our lives is a result of not believing that God is in control and has our best interests in life. That’s why prayer and thankfulness to God shifts our perspective off the circumstances and onto the One who can do all things and works all things together for our good. God promises to provide us with the strength needed for daily life in a stressful world.
- Read Proverbs 12:25 and John 14:1. How would you rate your current stress level? What is your primary source of stress and how does it affect your life?
- Read Philippians 4:6-7. How do you typically manage stress? In this verse, Paul tells us to pray and present our requests to God. Is this normally your first response? What are some ways you can incorporate prayer into dealing with stress and anxiety?
- Read Matthew 6:23-34. Most Americans worry about time and money. Do these two top your list? What others are in your top five? How does trusting in God’s provision decrease stress?
- How can you gain strength in times of stress or difficulties? Is this something that you practice?