Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Stress affects us all from time to time—but how much stress is too much? We live in a world where stress is almost unavoidable. Because technology creates the expectation that we make ourselves available to others 24-hours-a-day, balancing our commitments and coping with stress in healthy ways can seem impossible. Stress can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and also how you behave.
Battling with traffic jams or having an argument with your wife or husband can cause stress levels to go up. Certain life situations are more likely to predispose a person to experience stress. For example, surveys have found that mothers who worked full-time had the highest stress levels in the populations surveyed. Other situations that can lead to stress are financial pressures, unemployment, work stress, lower education, social isolation, conflict, personal/family illness, and relationship problems.
Stress is good if it motivates you but it’s bad if it wears you down. That’s when too much pressure does not help at all.
We Are Stressed by Time
Causes of stress vary from person to person, but common ones include major life events like a death in the family or divorce, as well as more regular events like an illness or health problems, problems at work, home, or school, financial issues, or relationship concerns. Signs of stress can include dips in mood, a lack of motivation, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, irritability, and restlessness. If you’re dealing with a major stressor, or experiencing symptoms of stress on an ongoing basis, you might be dealing with bad stress, and getting control of it before it has too much of an impact on your wellbeing is incredibly important.
We are living in a time of tremendous stress. We live in a world of speed, activity and noise. In life we must be able to withstand stress. Be assured of this, you cannot avoid stress. The strain and tension of living produces a measure of stress which cannot be avoided.
We are stressed by time. In our fast-pace world, time seems to be pushing us all the time. You must be at the dentist or doctor on time, even if you have to wait 45 minutes once you get there. I heard about a man who had a doctor’s appointment. He sat in the waiting room for what seemed like ages until his name was called. Then he was placed in an examination room where he sat for another 20 minutes. Finally, the doctor came in, picked up the man’s chart and said, Now, let’s see, how old are you? The patient replied, Now, or when I first came into the waiting room? Time can be a real stressor!
“Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.” 1 Peter 5:7 (The Voice)
There is a lot of stress going around, and it can affect us in some strange ways. Much of the trouble from stress is because we feel we are not able to do what is required. But did you know we have a strength that comes from God himself? In the Bible we read Isaiah 40:29 and 40:31 (The Voice):
God strengthens the weary
and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care.
But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
In our relationship with God, he knows when we’ve had enough and he comes with his grace and strength.
God Knows Our Limits
Many years ago the British Parliament passed a law requiring that a series of marks be painted on the hulls of merchant ships. They consisted of several lines one above the other. The top one was called the ‘Plimsoll mark’ or ‘load line’. It indicated the maximum depth the vessel could be submerged in the water without endangering it in a storm. The practice of putting these markings on large ships was introduced in Parliament by one of its members, a reformer by the name of Samuel Plimsoll.
Because the legislation he proposed prevented many disasters at sea and saved thousands of lives, he became known as the sailors’ friend. One writer has said, “In God’s sight each of us has an unseen ‘Plimsoll mark’. Therefore, the temptations and trials He allows to come our way will never exceed our capacity to bear them. He knows our limit.” The amazing thing is that God gives us the strength we need each day. This helps alleviate the stress level. A bit of stress is OK.
The Bible says that I am to hope in the Lord. What does that mean? The word ‘hope’ is not a word of chance or luck. The biblical idea of hope is one of confident assurance. To hope in the Lord means that I do not hope in my job but in the one who will always supply my need. To hope in the Lord means that I do not hope in my money, but my hope is in the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and pours out upon my life every good and perfect gift. It’s not in my intellectual abilities—a stroke could strip that from me in two seconds and leave me unable to walk or talk. No, I am trusting in the One who has all knowledge and who can show me things that I do not know!
My hope is not in my relationships with people, as much as I treasure so many of the precious companionships God has granted me. My hope is in my fellowship of God, in whom there is no shadow of turning. Stress tries to put me in charge of all the affairs of my life, but hope puts me in a position of confidence that my God shall supply all that I need, even to the point of providing above and beyond all that I could ask or think! How wonderful to think along these lines.
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7 (The Voice), “Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries.” Apply this verse to your life and stress becomes manageable.