October 21, 2009
Stress Management 101
Philippians 4:6-7 (ICB) Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God's peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it.
Friend To Friend
Stress management is a spiritual discipline that begins with diligent preparation in every area of life - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. We must be ready to deal with stress before we are required to deal with stress. Dealing with stress is an ongoing, daily battle that will not end - this side of Heaven. In order to win that battle, we must be prepared. While there is no single secret to handling stress, God's Word is filled with many truths that can enable and empower us to deal with stress in a healthy, productive and God-honoring way.
Sometimes the most familiar passages of scripture are also the most overlooked. Psalm 23 is one of those passages. I often find myself rushing to this psalm for peace and comfort in the aftermath of a stressful situation or for guidance and shelter from the storm that I see barreling straight for the unprepared shores of my life. However, I have also discovered that Psalm 23 is a powerful tool for dealing with stress on an everyday basis.
If you are like me, I tend to handle the major calamities in life better than the mundane, ordinary but definitely stress-inducing minutia of daily living. A study of Psalm 23 has led me to believe that it is often the small pebble in my shoe, rather than the massive boulder on my path, that causes the greatest stress in my life. Life is so daily! Fortunately, so is God.
He promises to be my shepherd, to lead and guide me, to provide my every need, to protect me from my enemies, to fill my heart with peace, and to stand between me and my greatest fears. God delivered a profound message when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live among us each and every day. Jesus could have come to us in many ways but He chose to interrupt the ordinary with the extraordinary! Jesus could rightfully have been born in a palace. He was, after all, a King. Yet His life on earth began in a manger - a smelly, dusty, dirty and definitely common barn. The simplicity of His birth is one of His most precious gifts to us and a constant reminder that He really does care about everything that touches our lives - no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. God wants to be involved in the simple, ordinary happenings of each day.
While I cannot imagine my world without the presence and power of Jesus Christ, I am often guilty of living as if He does not exist. The result is a stress-filled life. A trial comes and I try to handle it on my own. Loneliness empties my heart and instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into the darkness where stress is waiting to fill that emptiness with anxiety and fear. Still, God is faithful. His peace is a soothing balm that leads me once again to the manger and away from stress. Emmanuel, God with me! He steps into my life and changes everything. When He comes, stress is stripped away, tranquility given in its place.
When I find myself wishing I could have been there that holy night when Jesus was born, He gently reminds me that I had my own manger experience, when God became a personal reality in my life. I have my own holy moments each and every day as I reach out to Him and He is there, right in the middle of my common, ordinary and often smelly circumstances.
Stress has no place in a heart that kneels before the manger. Stress is powerless in a life that continually seeks God and chooses to surrender to His love and care - like the sheep surrender to the love and care of their Shepherd. Psalm 23 describes the intimate, personal and trusting relationship between sheep and shepherd, between child and father, and is not only a beautiful portrait of God's complete and faithful provision, but an arsenal of stress-busting truths and principles that, when embraced and applied, will empower and equip us to live a life of peace and victory.
Father, I want to thank You for your unconditional love and forgiveness. Help me to focus on You and Your presence in my life each day. I pray that any stress in my heart will be swallowed up in the reality that You are faithful and are in control. I know You are not surprised by anything that comes my way and will transform the good into better, the unthinkable into the unstoppable and the unbelievable into fact. I praise You for the amazing way You guide me and lift me up when I fall. I want to focus on You today and thank You that in doing so, I will experience true peace. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Think about the way you begin each day. Are you afraid of what the day holds? Do you dread facing whatever comes your way? Or do you focus on God and His promises? Let's encourage one another to walk in faith, peace and victory.
More From The Girls
Stress is one of the enemy's favorite weapons to use against me. Stress has caused physical pain, emotional darkness and spiritual bankruptcy in my life. I constantly have to bring my heart and mind back to God. I know how hard it is to stay balanced and at peace. Need help? Check out Mary's book, "Escaping the Stress Trap" to discover nine steps you can take to manage stress…instead of allowing it to manage you.
Be sure to take a look at Mary's weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey or browse through her online store for great buys on books, CDs, E-Bible Studies, MP3 downloads and special gift items.
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Originally published Wednesday, 21 October 2009.