We all have heard it said, “He/she is under a lot of stress right now.” Whether it is at school, at work, in our relationships with others, or just facing the world, all of us face some level of anxiety and stress in our lives. In some cases, we can see the stressful situations coming; at other times, we cannot.
There is no way to rid our lives totally of stress, so we have to learn to face and deal with it. How? Remember this: you and I are not the only ones facing stressful times. Both Moses and David had to face angry people who were ready to stone them (Exodus 17:4; 1 Samuel 30:6). That sounds stressful to me! Paul’s heart was filled with a daily, “deep concern” for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). Yes, other people understand stress. We thank God that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Try to think on good things (Philippians 4:8). Whether or not you and I like the tune of “CountYour Blessings” is beside the point: the message of that enduring spiritual song is an excellent reminder. What good things do you have going on in your life right now? “I cannot think about good stuff; I have too much stress and too many problems to face.” Let me ask: do you have food, clothing, and shelter? Some do not, you know. Do you have all spiritual blessings in Jesus? (Ephesians 1:3). Do you have a loving heavenly Father? (Romans 8:35-39). Is there at least one other human who truly cares about you? Sometimes we need to step back and look at the big pictures. We are blessed immensely.
Try not to worry. I know, that is easier said than done. Sure, we ought to be concerned about a lot of things, but not to the point of fretting and getting ourselves so worked up that we cannot function properly. Rather than be anxious, God wants us to make our requests known to Him. His peace is able to guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:6,7). Jesus gave us multiple reasons not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34). If God looks after and sustains the creatures and vegetation of this world, He surely will take care of His precious children.
Take time to study, pray, and sing praises to God. “Brother, I just do not have time for that stuff right now.” Make time. It is up to you to fit these into your schedule and daily routines – you will be blessed for doing so (and so will those folks around you who are affected by your high-strung, stressed – out demeanor). Studying helps us grow (1 Peter 2:2) and learn how to draw near to God (James 4:8). Pouring out our hearts to God in prayer helps us get our souls ready to face life after we say “Amen.” The Psalmist confessed, “In my distress I cried to the Lord” (Psalm 120:1). “But I do not want to bother God with all my troubles.” He tells us to cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7), so it is the right thing to do. And singing? Paul and Silas praised God in song when their feet were in metal chains in prison (Acts 16:25). Singing spiritual songs soothes the soul and helps remind us how great our God is.
Stay focused on what matters most in life. Look, if you are a student, I cannot tell you that your upcoming exams are not important. If you are on a sports team, I cannot tell you that your upcoming game is not important, nor can I tell an employment- seeking person that his/her upcoming job interview is of little consequence. Of course, those things matter. But, we need to keep things in proper perspective. Martha was all bent out of shape over preparing a meal (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus wants us to labor for/seek the food which endures to everlasting life (John 6:27). When we set our minds on things above instead of on earthly matters (Colossians 3:1,2), then our priorities are where they need to be.
Take some time for rest and exercise. After Jesus saw that His apostles had labored extensively, He urged them to go and “rest a while” (Mark 6:32). Sometimes a break from our normal routines is a great refresher to the body and soul. Although bodily exercise profits only a little in comparison to godliness, it is a fact that physical exercise does benefit us (1 Timothy 4:8). Find a way, something, anything wholesome that works to help you relax.
Do some serious evaluating. Some things in life we can control, while others are out of our hands. This thing or stuff that gets you all stressed out, is it worth it? I mean, is it worth it to have that stress- causing situation in your life day after day and week after week? Does that stressful situation affect your service to Jesus? Does it affect how you treat your family members and friends? Does it completely control your thoughts so that worshipping God and the work of the church are the last things on your mind? Is it causing you to be sick physically?
Life is tough under the best of circumstances. We do not need the added burden of unnecessary stress. In order to run the Christian race properly, we need to lay aside any weight that ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). With that in mind, if your stress level is harming your physical or spiritual life, it is time to ask the question that we may try to avoid:
Is it time to make a change?” If your job is pulling you down mentally and spiritually, is it not time to consider a change? If your life is packed to the max with activities, is it not time to adjust the schedule and cut back on some things?
Sometimes stress seems to weasel its unwanted way into our lives. In other instances, to be honest, we bring the stress on ourselves. It makes no sense for us to do that, but alas, that is what happens. Let us learn to trust in God and live each day for Him.
— Roger D. Campbell