3 Biblical Ways to Handle Stress
Stress! It’s one of the greatest problems in America today. We face it at work, at home, even at play. So how do we handle it properly? Obviously it’s a question not to be settled in a brief article like this one, but perhaps there are some things I can suggest to help you get a handle on the problem. As always, the best advice comes from the “owner’s manual” for life, the Bible.
Let’s look at a typical scenario involving stress. It’s 7:15 am and you have to leave the house at 7:30 to get to work on time. You know there is a big meeting first thing that morning, and you aren’t sure you are ready. You pour a cup of coffee to help wake up and, suddenly, the entire cup spills on your shirt! Now that’s what I call stress.
But let’s look at what happens next. How you handle the situation is the difference between feeling high stress in the situation and calmly dealing with the natural problems of life. Here are 3 biblical ways to handle this typical stressful situation in your life:
Take Responsibility Sometimes it seems this is really the problem... you take on so much responsibility that it ends up causing you stress. However, the reality is that you often blame the circumstances when they were actually something you brought on yourself.
Remember: It’s not what happens around us that causes stress, it’s how we react to these problems that makes it so stressful. In the example above, there are several ways you could have taken responsibility.
First, you could have studied whatever was needed for the morning meeting the night before. You could have organized any paperwork or notes necessary, and had them safely stored in a bag or briefcase before going to bed.
Next you could have gone to bed early enough to get plenty of rest and still be up in time to dress and have a good breakfast.
Then, when the cup spilled, you would have had time to change and leave the coffee-stained clothes soaking until evening. Proper preparation and planning would have removed most of the stress from the situation. Perhaps you need to take some responsibility for the situation producing the stress...
Trust God The Bible tells us that nothing happens to a Christian that isn’t “God-filtered.” There is a reason for everything that happens to you, good and bad. In my example it might be a lesson God is teaching about planning ahead, but it could also be something else. Perhaps the delay caused by the spill would have you leaving just late enough to miss a bus that would crash that day, or a speeding car that would slam into yours.
Perhaps God has a phone call you shouldn’t miss or a neighbor who needs to “bump into” you on your way out that morning. Accept that some of the stressful situations are coming from God for a purpose as you learn to trust Him more.
The Bible instructs us, “In everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:13), and also assures us God works everything for our good (Romans 8:28). It doesn’t say everything will be good, rather that God will use it for our good in the end.
When I’m anxious, I’m trying to take over God’s job. I think that either he doesn’t care enough about me, or he doesn’t have the situation under control. When I’m anxious, when I’m refusing to “cast my cares on him,” I’m effectively thinking I can handle the situation better than God.
Have “Forever Eyes” Years ago in a Bible Study I saw the phrase “forever eyes.” It referred to a state of thinking in which we remember we are “eternal beings,” not just flesh and bones. This life is not all there is. Part of our God-given mission on earth is to prepare for eternity.
How we handle stressful situations is often a mark of our spiritual maturity. As we learn to trust God, not our feelings, in all circumstances, the bad things have less control over us. We will have a different perspective on the passing problems when we look back and see how God has brought us as far as we are.
The Bible instructs us to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...”, things that won’t be affected by theft, a bad economy or loss. What a lot of stress we would miss out on if we could just get this perspective into our hearts and minds!
When stress builds, ask yourself, “What does this matter compared with eternity?” You will probably find yourself realizing that this is just a brief speed bump in your journey to heaven. You’ll realize you can handle it with God’s help, and stress will lose it’s control over your life. Conclusion The reality of the situation is that we can’t always control our stressful circumstances, but we can control our response to them. Taking responsibility, trusting God and getting a proper outlook on life will make all the difference!