What stresses you out?
Work? Finances? Your kids? A project you are working on that doesn’t appear to be coming together? An over-packed schedule that has you striving for the impossible?
Maybe it’s even your ministry or service to God that has you stressed out!
Stress results when we worry that something won’t work out the way we are hoping. It is the opposite of faith – which is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
And God doesn’t want you to stress. Here’s why:
1. Stress sends a message to God – and everyone else – that He isn’t capable. We don’t consciously believe that, but our actions display it every time we wring our hands, pull out our hair, or leave the room to let off steam. Stress says to others “I have to work this out myself, because I’m on my own.”
2. Stress keeps us from enjoying a relationship with God. When I wrote my books, When Women Long for Rest and When You’re Running on Empty, I realized, through personal experience and study of the Word, that God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. I see that in Jesus' response to a man who asked Him about the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus' answer was "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).
God is focused on relationship. We tend to be focused on activity. He is the One who tells us to "be still" (Psalm 46:10) and to come to Him and rest (Matthew 11:28). We are the ones who are constantly striving to do more.
Yet, as we spend time cultivating a love relationship with God, we will then know how to serve others and we will be able to discern His gentle voice saying "This is what I have for you" or "Step in and help with that." And when God directs us toward work it will never be at the expense of overlooking our primary responsibilities (to God, our marriage and family), or feeling over-extended.
3. Stress makes us careless. God knows when we are too busy, we will get run down and won’t be on our best game. We will make decisions that aren’t the best, carry out actions that aren’t the best, and begin to live a life that is bent on our preferences, not God’s. More importantly, when we are stressed, we tend to respond in a way that isn’t glorifying to God. In Philippians 1:27, followers of Christ are told, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Notice that word whatever.
Whatever comes in the mail today…
Whatever happens at work…
Whatever your bank balance says…
Whatever your spouse says – or doesn’t say – today…
Whatever someone else says about you, whether you deserve it or not…
Whatever grade (or disciplinary report) your child brings home…
Whatever comes your way in any given day, you are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
The Gospel of Christ is that He left heaven to come to this earth, live an obedient life to His Father, and then died to be the sacrifice for our sins so we can live eternally when we place our faith in Him. The Gospel of Christ proclaims that Jesus Christ is capable. Our stress says He’s not.
If Jesus is capable of securing our eternal life, He can certainly take care of matters in our everyday life.
So, instead of stressing about all you can’t control, start resting in the Only One who can control all things. Here’s how:
A – Admit you are not in control, but God is. Simply acknowledging that you don’t have control over certain situations, but they didn’t take God by surprise, may help you stop striving and start trusting.
B – Believe God wants only the best for you. Because of that, He will allow whatever will shape you and mold you into the likeness of His Son. That may mean difficult times. That may amount to financial struggles. That might possibly mean health problems. But whatever it is, know God can handle it and work it for good in your life, by making you more like Christ through it (Romans 8:28-29).
C – Commit yourself to a deeper knowledge of God. Do you want to grow through your grievances, and become stronger through your struggles? Then seek to know God deeper through whatever you are going through. Your difficulties can be doorways to discovering a deeper intimacy with God if you allow Him to show you something of Himself during your stressful times.
Philippians 4:6-7 instructs, “Don’t worry [or stress] about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).
There you have it. Praying about what stresses you out – and thanking God for being in control of it – will bring peace and an inner calm. Trade your stress for peace. God wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), When Couples Walk Together, God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart, and 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her books, ministry, or free resources to strengthen your soul or marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: September 15, 2016