Do you feel anxious or stressed out when bad things happen to you? The truth is God and stress are related, but perhaps not in the way you might think.
In today’s world almost everyone has some level of stress in their life. Most of the time we get stressed when we take on too many responsibilities, when bad things happen to us, when it seems like our safety is being threatened, or when it looks like our needs are not been met. There’s actually an infinite number of reasons why you could be stressed out because what stresses you might not stress me and vice versa.
Of course as Christians there are chances that we may be stressed in one way or another, but we should not allow it to dictate our relationship with God. In fact, we must understand that our relationship with God comes first and nothing should get in the way of that — not even stress.
Get to it! God and stress — the connection?
Stress can help us become better problem solvers through the process of trial and error. Think of stress as a tool that is used to make us stronger and better rounded individuals. If we react well, stress basically strengthens everything about our character the same way a knife can be sharpened by using specific tools.
God operates the same way. Zechariah 13:9 tells us that God will purify us like silver and gold in a fire. This is really important to lock in on. Not even a relationship with God is perfect. He’s perfect. We’re not. Therefore there can be breaks in our relationship because of us, which is sin.
The verse above tells us something very important. God is purifying us.
He is perfecting us through his love. If he is perfecting us — and that means everything in our character — then a relationship with God can lead to us coping with stress in a much better way than we otherwise would have been able to! See? God and stress are totally intertwined in a weird little way.
The Bible encourages us to be good managers of the gifts that God has given us. These gifts include your able body, time, money, strength, and material possessions. God also gave us the power to manage your spirit and mind. We must understand that just as we’ve been given these gifts, we also have been given the power to manage them.
Steps to beating stress
1. Don’t push yourself too hard. Listen and wait for God’s answer.
A common reason why many Christians get stressed out or anxious is because they haven’t yet grasped the power that Christ has. Jesus’ power isn’t only in granting us salvation, but it is also more than strong enough to aid us in everyday life.
This lack of recognition leads many to battle endlessly with pain over a lost loved one, unpaid bills, a car that isn’t working, etc. Instead we should try our best, but also hand our problems over to God. If he’s powerful enough to be resurrected then why do we act like we serve a limited God?
Learn your limits and respect them. The rest God will handle. Pray that your faith in Christ may grow so that you don’t place limits on a limitless God.
Prosperity is a good thing. However, don’t make money or possessions your main goal. Always remember Matthew 6:33 when the Word tells us:
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
2. Identify your stressors.
The thing we need to realize when it comes to God and stress is that we can’t really remove everything from our lives that stresses us out. Instead we can learn to deal with them, or better said we can learn to tolerate them. Anything that stimulates, or causes, stress is called a stressor.
Stressors can be anything. It can be big or little things. Here’s what I mean:
What causes you stress may not bother someone else and what bothers that person may not bother you! You may bother about something today and tomorrow you’re thinking of something else.
As a Christian, don’t allow outside forces to complicate your life — especially temptation. Always recall that in any moment you are not the first to deal with a specific temptation. I know it can be stressing to deal with any specific temptation; whether it be cursing in anger, feeling the urge to smoke a cigarette, or even pornography.
All of these things and more may feel like too much for us to resist, but always remember that God will not allow you to be tempted with more than what you can handle nor are you the first to face such temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
You must identify God’s role in your life and understand it. Become familiar with God’s promises that are found in the Bible. (A pretty cool way to do so is to check out 365promises.com which gives you a new promise from the Bible every day of the year.)
Don’t let the little things of this world bother you. Remember that our life on Earth is nothing when compared to what an eternity with Christ will bring us. Stressed out about losing a loved one? Fasten yourself to Christ so that you may be reunited one day!
Therefore, before we can remove the big or little things that cause stress in our lives, we must become conscious of who we are in Christ, identify our stressors, study how they affect us, and learn how to attack it from the spiritual angle.
3. Fine-tune your approach to stress
Don’t behave like the rest of the world when a situation bothers you. In other words, let your attitude towards challenges be different from the rest of the world. This can be hard, especially in anger, but we can do so if we ask for a “daily serving” of the Spirit.
Don’t try to overcome challenges alone. You can try, but you don’t have to. Jesus wants to help you in every way possible.
Don’t approach a negative circumstance when burned out. If you do you could be setting yourself up for failure from the start. Remember the mind needs rest too!
Instead of tensing up, calm down. Go to a quiet spot, take a deep breath, try to get a feel of the situation, and pray. Look into the scriptures to see what God says concerning similar situations.
I told myself early in my walk with the Lord that I would not allow life to disconnect me from God. I haven’t been perfect when it comes to this, but I sure do try to follow through. You should also try to do the same.
Don’t get worried by your problems. Those challenges before you are not meant to weight you down; think of them as stepping stones to a better you. Instead of worrying over your problems, take everything to God in prayer.
Check out what Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-7 when he writes:
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Paul was writing to each and every one of us. Present your requests to God. Don’t be anxious for anything. Don’t allow any situation weigh you down, instead present your requests before God through prayer and petition.
I’m not talking about a 30 second prayer either. Those are awesome, but I encourage you to have an ongoing conversation with God as if he were right there in front of you in person. God is not only our creator, but he also longs to be our friend.
That being said I want to remind you of one thing. Just because you pray for something doesn’t mean you’ll get the answer from God that you wanted. He could in fact not want that very thing for you (e.g., that guy or girl you really, really like and hope becomes your boyfriend/girlfriend).
5. Beat stress by singing
This one can be pretty difficult.
How often have you wanted to sing a upbeat love song when feeling down and perhaps heartbroken? Ten times? Five times? Actually it’s probably closer to zero, right?
Luckily, when it comes to God, He is not just there for you in good times, but actually thrives in our rough patches. Therefore sing to Him. You can find a hymn or contemporary song, or perhaps a Psalm by David, that touches on any emotion you could possibly be feeling at any given moment.
Actually it’s been proven that listening to music and singing can reduce stress! Singing is so powerful that it can actually relieve symptoms of depression and increase self-esteem in elderly people.
… and here we were thinking that David was just bored out of his mind in a cave writing Psalm after Psalm (okay, that’s what I used to think).
6. Focus on this very powerful promise.
John gives us one of the most powerful promises found in the Bible. You can find it in John 14:27 where Jesus tells us:
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
I told you God and stress were related!
Hopefully, by now, I have given you enough Biblically based evidence to show you that you can completely dominate the stress in your life. When I say dominate I mean Mike Tyson versus Michael Spinks type dominate.
What are your personal favorites when it comes to beating stress?