Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
We talk a lot about stress today—and I wonder if most of us are experiencing stress most days? I think many of us have experienced the symptoms of stress—whether it’s at home or at work or those trying to find work.
Those who have studied the topic say it is a serious matter if it’s ignored or downplayed. Headaches and insomnia can be symptoms, and unchecked stress can even lead to more serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Trouble is we live in a society that pushes us to try and get more done in less time with better results—so stress becomes inevitable. But how do you manage it?
Stress is all about being under abnormal pressure. A little bit of pressure usually doesn’t cause an issue, but when it starts to build up, you face problems. It may be increased responsibility at work, an argument you have with your wife, or knowing you can’t make those mortgage repayments. Each stress builds on top of the other—you become tense, get upset more easily than normal, and you have that awful sense of being overwhelmed, having difficulty relaxing, or feeling aches and pains, especially muscle tension.
Are You Overloading Yourself?
Maybe you’re taking on too much. Make a list of priorities and stick to the list. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves—try to keep everything in perspective. If you stumble and make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Take a few minutes each day to appreciate yourself. It’s not as strange as it sounds.
There are many ways to try and overcome stress. You can read millions of articles on the internet or in books and magazines about how to relieve or reduce stress. We want it to go away so we can lead a happy and productive life. Stress, as such, is not going to go away. It will take a toll on our physical, mental and spiritual life.
The Bible has plenty to say to assist us. The bottom line is that God knows all about our issues, and has promised to be with us all the time, and will help us in the stressful times. You have the greatest power in the universe on your side. But very often we forget, and think we have to deal with stress on our own. Faith in God definitely helps you cope with stress.
“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
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Many Christians can testify to that experience. We live in a universe that can be overwhelming, but a simple faith in the creator God gives you strength and an effective stress buffer to help you cope. Studies have found over and over again that those who attended church had lower blood pressure than those who never went to church.
Dr Herbert Benson, an American pioneer in the field of faith, relaxation, and stress reduction, has studied the role of prayer and its effect on stress. He said people who prayed had higher levels of relaxation than those who did not. Even praying the Lord’s Prayer can bring relief. Because God has a plan for your life and loves you. He wants you to be happy and live your life to the full.
I suggest you spend some time each day alone with God in prayer. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth”. Set aside 10 minutes to read the Bible, even with the Psalms because there it shows a balance for a busy life. Then, perhaps slowly at first, you will start to see life from God’s perspective.
Take Time to Rest
Our body and mind need time to rest, stop and reflect on the bigger issues. How you find stillness is a personal journey—different for each of us—but getting involved in a church with people who can help you is a good start. Good health and wellbeing is all about providing for our spiritual needs too.
Jesus himself keenly understood how the worries and stress of the world can crowd in on us until they feel like a mountain. But wisely Jesus said, “Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). Of course they won’t. In fact those stresses could decrease the quality of your life. That’s why Jesus went on to say, “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too. Live one day at a time” (verse 34).
There’s the answer—live one day at a time and trust God for all your concerns. If you have hope, you have life. And Jesus said, “I have come to give you life in all its fullness”. You’re not left alone to battle through the stress of each day.
If you’re feeling worn down and jaded today, be encouraged by another verse from the Bible:
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31 – NIV)