The dictionary defines stress as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” Some stress is necessary and even good—such as the physical strain we put on our muscles to make them stronger. But when we talk about “stress,” we are usually referring to excessive or negative mental or emotional strain or tension. While “stress” is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, Scripture does speak to things such as anxiety, worry, and trouble—things we often associate with stress
Wanted to share a story about a person X, who looks and compares with others and gets stressed. The Person looks at his children and their needs which he / she can’t meet and gets stressed. The Person looks at his provision and thinks about the future and he / she gets stressed. The Person is no one else than you and me. We Can’t runaway from Stress.
Everyone suffers from stress at one time or another. How we naturally deal with it depends in large part on who we are. For some, emotional stress causes physical illness. Others might become hyper-productive. On the other hand, some people under stress shut down mentally and emotionally. And, of course, there are a variety of other responses. Stress is a common human experience, particularly in a world where the demands for our time and attention seem to be unending. Our jobs, health, family, friends, and even ministry activities can overwhelm us.
The top physical symptom reported is fatigue, and the top psychological symptom is irritability or anger.
When we look at Genesis 3, we remember why life is hard. We sinned. Adam and Eve chose independence over dependence on God in the very beginning of the world, leaving all generations to wrestle with learning how to depend on God the way we were designed to. From the moment that we chose independence, God has been calling us back to him. Uncertainties in life are opportunities to depend on God the way he intended us to.
Some of the common cause of stress is finances, our future, our job, career, health etc
John 16:33 – In this world we will have stress
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
We might also find ourselves stressed when facing a hardship or trial.
James 1:2–4 counsels, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Here are a few characters in the Bible who had experienced pressures in their lives while serving God.
Daniel– Put yourself into his situation when he was thrown into the lion’s den. Without his sincere prayer, he might be attacked and eaten by all wild and hungry lions.
Esther– Convinced by her thought with only one choice to save her fellow Jews, she was determined to put her life at risk. Whatever things you might be thinking in her situation, it is still considered as stress.
Joseph– He was blamed and was punished for accusations that he didn’t do. He was sentenced to jail and that could become a great trouble for him. If other men would be placed into his tempting situation, most would fall in the seductive hands of Potiphar’s wife. All other struggles that Joseph faced can be regarded as a form of ‘acute stress.’
Elijah– One of his biggest stresses was when he saw the Cherith brook gradually drying. This compares to the dryness of your bank account, so it is still a stress.
David– if you were David, you might be highly pressured for your new position to rule the Kingdom as anointed by Samuel. It gives you more burden since King Saul is very much fugitive that he doesn’t want to leave his throne.
Moses– Imagine being a servant-leader just to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Think also of the time when he was disobeyed by the Israelites, when he was cursed and was teased by the Egyptians. Even though he had accomplished a great mission for God, some of the stress we are experiencing now can be incomparable to his struggles.
Paul– If only there is an award for a person who experienced several stresses in his/her life, nothing beats the experiences of Paul especially starting from the time he became a Christian. It started from an argument when Barnabas did not join him in his mission. He even experienced shipwrecks, snake bites until he came to the point of being put into jail. Paul faced a lot of sufferings and inconveniences and you can read more in the Bible.
Let us answer some practical questions:
- What are the primary sources of my stress?
- How often do I pray about the factors in my life causing me stress?
- Do I trust God with my work, finances, health, relationships, and future?
- What effects does my stress have on my loved ones?
Let us look from the story of Jehoshaphat
2 Chronicles 20:
20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites[a] came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.
2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom,[b] from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us
When we are stressed , let us follow these guidelines which God is asking us to do.
- Look up:
Our first response would be to look up. We need to look up to God, whenever we feel stressed out look to God in Prayer. It can just be as simple as this, looking into the heavens and saying, “God please help me”. Jehoshaphat went to the Lord. He did not plan; he went to the Lord First. He said , You are God , You rule over all Nations. That means God you are in Control of this situation.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
- Look Back:
Jehoshaphat reminds himself about the past. In verse 7, Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel.
Look at your past, How God has been faithful from the time we were born. How we have experienced supernatural miracles in the past. How God worked for us in bigger situation than this.
Romans 8 :28
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.
- Look Down:
In Verse 7 it says , God gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham.
Open our book/ your mind, where we have written all the prophesies and promises which we have received for us. Read that out, remind ourselves of those promises.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Look Straight:
Walk in confidence ,In verse 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us
Walk in confidence that God will hear and save us. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
The most stressful seasons in my life climax is that moment when I realize that I can’t do it all. I am reminded of my human finiteness and fallibility. Instead of losing my breath in anxiety, I should be able to breathe a deep sigh of relief. I can’t do it all, but I don’t have to. I am not enough, but Christ is.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Virjil Selvan is Pastoring the New Hope Community. The New Hope Community is situated in the heart of the city between Old and New Panvel. We can confidently share that New Hope Community is a Church in Kamothe, Church in Khandeshwar, Church in Khanda Colony, Church in Panvel, Church in New Panvel because we are centrally located and these places surround our church Venue.