Stress and trials in our lives can actually be a positive thing if we trust Jesus enough to allow them to be. When I am enduring a trial, I often ask Jesus, “Ok Lord, what do you want me to learn from this? Help me to get through, strengthen me Lord.” I recognize that with Jesus, I can make it, I can get through the tough time, I can work through it. I need Him though every step of the way.
Jesus was the model of how to deal with stress in our lives. Sometimes we don’t think about that. While Jesus IS God, come to earth as a man, he lived among as a human. He also experienced all that we experience…except sin, Jesus was tempted, just like us, but He never sinned.
It had to be stressful traveling by foot, crowds following you everywhere never leaving you alone, everyone expecting healing, always on the opposite side of the religious authorities, being accepted by many but also rejected by many. How did Jesus deal with stress?
Mark 1:35-38 ( TNIV )
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Luke 5:16 ( TNIV )
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
One important way of dealing with stress is top do what Jesus did, he spent time daily talking with God the father. Make intentional time alone with God to talk to him and to listen.
James 1:2-4 (TNIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
How does stress affect you:
Are you an “ebb and flow” oriented person? Are you full of hope one moment and full of despair the next based on what is happening day to day in your life? I would point out that this response to life leaves you at the mercy of your circumstances.
Are you a “pretender” type of person? Do you pretend to be happy no matter what circumstances you face? Are you determined to put on a good front in life. I would point out that this response to life can be like a house of cards…..at some point it will fall.
As followers of Jesus, as someone who walks with Jesus each day, I believe that a change takes place in our response to stress. This change does not with no struggle or effort, but it does come with great benefit.
I heard it best put like this: “Joy is a deep sense of well-being that may at the same time embrace sorrow, tears, laughter, anger, pain. Joy is more a decision than a feeling. It is choosing to live above feelings but not deny them. It is not intense happiness, although choosing joy sometimes produces happiness. Joy is a particularly Christian response to life since it depends on faith in God’s sovereignty. It is quiet and grateful, and it inwardly delights in the goodness of God.”
Got stress? Maybe a better question is, “Got Joy?”
Isaiah 41:10 (TNIV)
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
May you lean on Jesus every step of the way on life’s journey. May you allow yourself to be strengthen day by day. And may you persevere and allow Jesus to complete you!