I hear this word everywhere I go from everyone I talk with.
I experience it in the day-to-day happenings of my life, and I deal with it in the lives of those I love.
A few years ago, I determined a working definition of stress that works for me. See what you think:
- S – Seeking
- T – To
- R – Resolve
- E – Every
- S – Silly
- S – Situation
Now, you might choose to replace the word ‘silly’ with ‘serious’ or some other word, but I don’t really think it matters. Stress comes when my expectation does not meet the reality, so I continually try to bring the two together.
Not all stress is bad. Stress, that realization that the reality does not meet my expectation, can motivate me to work hard and achieve. It can cause me to think of better solutions to problems. That is good.
But there is the stress that comes from constantly trying to fix everything for everyone. That stress is not so good.
Stress can be prideful. When I assume that I can resolve every problem and fix every issue, I am focused on my own strength. God never called me to fix the world. He called me to love Him and to allow Him to love others through me. He called me to walk with Him in fellowship – not stress.
He even gave me guidance for stress relief.
Philippians 4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
I find three directions in those verses are sure antidotes for stress.
- The first one is joy. Joy diffuses the tension that builds in difficult situations. It is often controlled by where I choose to place my focus in life – on the circumstance or on the God of the circumstance. There is great truth in the proverb “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22, ESV)
- The second is prayer. Prayer says that I know that I am not in charge, but I know Who is. Prayer places my dependence on the only One Who can truly effect change.
- The third is thanksgiving. It is really hard to be overcome with stress when I am busy being thankful for the multitude of mercies in my life and in the lives of those around me.
The next verse in Philippians gives me a little more guidance.
Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)
- A fourth antidote to stress-
- My thoughts must focus on the good rather than the bad. This is not a Pollyanna approach to life that never acknowledges sorrow or pain, but it is choosing to meditate on uplifting thoughts rather than purposefully dwelling on the mean, spiteful, hurtful things of life. It is moving past the difficult and horrifying memories to remember kindness and mercy and laughter and grace. Sometimes, this means that I must control what (or whom) I spend my time listening to, watching, and reading. You know the old saying – junk in, junk out.
This life is stressful. The overwhelming expectations that come from the constant bombardment of information as well as the daily trials that I face can cause my soul to buckle under the strain. But I have a fortress, a strength, a refuge that can shelter me and allow me to face each day with confidence and joy when I use God’s remedies.
Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Check and see if there are any silly situations that you need to commit to the care of the Father today. Then, take a moment and laugh!