Knowing that this was my week to write for the blog, and knowing that the deadline was quickly approaching, I found myself feeling a bit stressed to find a topic that would be of interest to our readers. Apparently, the answer to my searching was staring me in the face: STRESS!
Let’s face it. We ALL deal with stress from time to time (for some of us more than just from time to time). We live in a face-paced world that seems to want to leave us behind if we don’t keep moving, moving, moving. With that comes the stress of keeping up with all of our responsibilities and making sure that the balls in our wonderfully-impressive juggling routine never drop. Being a mom of 3 young girls and working full-time, I definitely have my fair share of stress.
But God does not call us to a life of stress and worry.
Not only is stress unhealthy, the Bible speaks clearly about laying our anxious thoughts at his feet. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. (NIV)
What an amazing promise! In the same light, what a difficult command to follow at times.
So why do we worry in the first place? Matthew 6:25-34 addresses this very question.
Verses 25 through 27 say, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
It continues in verse 34 to say, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. The problem, of course, that this is often easier said than done.
Stress is wreaking havoc in our lives and in our world. Not only can you NOT (yes, a double negative from an educator) add a single hour to your life by worrying, you can actually LOSE hours and even years from your life! Among many other things, stress results in all kinds of sicknesses and disease, anger, and poor judgment. Might this be the reason that people, those who are normally considered sane, rational individuals, get on the freeway and turn into angry road-ragers? (Don’t worry. I’m not pointing any fingers). The point is . . . stress is bad for you and can keep you from being who God wants you to be.
Several years ago, I was severely burdened with worry. I felt constantly consumed by my stress to the point that I felt a physical weight on my shoulders. I worried most about situations I felt were completely out of my control. Ironically, a release of that burden only came when I realized that I am NOT in control, God is!
This is not to say that I don’t struggle from time to time with stress. Oh, I definitely do. But I have recognized some things I can do to help me keep it in check:
1) Pray – Ask God to give peace in the times that are most hectic and stressful. It is worth reading Philippians 4:6-7 again, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2) Listen and take to heart what the Bible has to say about worry (and HOPE!) and take encouragement from His word.
3) Relax and put things in perspective.
4) Check your attitude. I am amazed at how my attitude and my response to my circumstances can play such critical role in my stress level.
5) Count your blessings and be thankful. Your job may be stressful, but you HAVE a job. Your family may be difficult, but you HAVE a family. Your finances may be tights, but look at ALL you have that others could only dream of.
6) Ask for help. If you are like me, you get a little hung up on just doing everything yourself. It is okay to ask for help. There are usually people around you that will not only be willing to help, but WANT to help.
7) Talk to a faithful and Godly friend who can help bring you back down to earth and encourage you in your trials.
8) Push some things off your plate (and DON’T feel guilty about it). Let’s all practice a simple little word . . . “No”. You may have to tell someone that you are unable to take on an additional responsibility for now. Maybe you can re-evaluate that responsibility when things calm down a bit.
Whether you are stressed about finances (the leading cause of stress), work issues, relationship conflict, health problems, or just the overwhelming circumstances of life, God has more for you than the burden you are carrying. Worrying will not add a single hour to your life and can do significant damage if you are not careful. Take it from a recovering worrier, lay your burdens at God’s feet and just see how He will work!