It’s funny how things work out. Last night in ID I spoke on dealing with stress and letting God carry it for you. It was supposed to be a timely message because all of our students are taking exams or have just finished taking exams. Little did I know that I would be applying the message to my own life so soon afterwards.
My life can be stressful at times. I work 2 part-time jobs, I coordinate worship for our church, and I also work as the youth pastor as well as taking classes, trying to fit in time for a new mentor relationship and balance it all with spending time with my wife. This is not an easy task at all. But recently something was thrown into the mix that doesn’t upset the balance, but casts shadows on our future and where we are heading. It’s nothing ominous or terrible, just a possible course change in our life.
The key word there being POSSIBLE. Our human nature is to worry, that worry leads to stress, and that stress will lead to anxiety. None of which glorify or show faith in God and His plan in our lives. I know I can speak for a lot of us when I say we tend to blow most things our of proportion, and before you know it, even the smallest issues become global catastrophes. I like to refer to these people as “stress puppies”. And we all have a little stress puppy in us sometimes.
Stress is a reality in this world. The fallen state of man makes it that way. But God’s provision to deal with that stress is as much as a reality as any problem, issue or conundrum you will ever confront. I want to borrow from thefiftytwo.com what I think is one of the best ways I have ever seen to deal with that stress. A.S.A.P.
A – Analyze to see if the stress is real or not. We have all been there. It isn’t always the same situation. Maybe you spilled something on your shirt, or you ran out of paper while printing an important report. It may even be as small as breaking your pencil while writing. Annoying? Yes. Life shattering? No. How we handle the everyday challenges we face can bring about stress. Take that stain you just made on your shirt. If you let it bother you enough in ten minutes you know the stain is there for good and will never come out, and since you can’t clean it you have to replace it, and you don’t have the money to buy all new clothes, and your life as you know it is ruined forever. All because of a little stain on your shirt. It this kind of unreal stress that sets us off. We all need to know the difference between real and unreal stress. And to do that is actually pretty simple. We need to learn to respond instead of react. See a reaction is a reflex with little or no thought involved. But a response is a decision made after analysis of facts and taking into account the best course of action. Reactions are all about us. Responses however allow the Holy Spirit to talk to us and give us guidance through any situation.
S – Stop yourself from trying to control. When we face an actual stressful situation, there is often little or nothing that we can do to change or control what is happening, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to. When we can’t control something it leads us to worry about it, and worry will grind you down like nothing else in this world. When we start letting our mind run off with hypotheticals and negative outcomes, we become prisoners of the unknown. But our faith in God demands otherwise. True faith will allow us to take our hands off of the situation and wait for God to act. Our limited vision prevents us from seeing the full picture of what God is up to. Often what we believe to be the absolute wrong path is the one God needs us to tread to brings to where He intends us to be. So rather than trying to control, try telling God that you trust Him. Say it out loud. Than sit still, wait, and see His plan unfold before you.
A – Apply stress reducing techniques. This is my favorite part. It doesn’t involve a smelly, squishy ball. It doesn’t involve punching something until you feel better. It only involves God. Here are 3 quick ways you can reduce your stress through God. First off, read the Bible. Your faith will grow by consuming the Word of God. And if your really stressed, read it out loud. There is power in hearing and speaking the truth of God’s Word. Secondly, listen to God’s voice. We need to listen not only for new words of guidance, but also to remember the words he has spoken before. Remembering what God has said, and what He has already done gives us faith and confidence that our God always has in His hand. Thirdly, we need to rest in God’s presence. Isn’t it nice to have a pet? We don’t often hold deep conversations or bare our innermost dreams to them, but just having that dog or cat around makes a big difference. The same is true with God, even when we aren’t deep in prayer, or seeking His will, it’s refreshing just to be in His presence and be renewed in fellowship with Him.
P – Proceed as God directs. When God says move, we go. Regardless of understanding we start walking. Just like the Israelites facing the Red Sea, we take the first step of obedience, and God moves the waters for us.
Stress is a reality. But God is greater than stress. He created us, how much more does He know about the workings of our minds and bodies than we do. Reach out for God today. Jesus didn’t just promise to be with us during the easy times, He said “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Even while the storms of life rage around us, you can find peace, and comfort in God.