Handling Stress

Handling Stress

Do you handle stress well, or does stress handle you? Synonyms for stress are constant worry, nervous tension, pressure, and feeling burdened. Many things can cause stress. Some major categories are overbooked schedules, unavoidable losses, lack of provision, and trials.

Overbooked schedules: Work, school activities, ball games, holidays, laundry, meal preparation, and visitors—all happening the same week creates stress.

Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha did a nice thing by opening her home to Jesus, but she wasn’t enjoying His visit. She was too busy. Often our first response to overbooked schedules is that Jesus doesn’t care. But remember, He did not create our schedule. We did. Like Martha, we often forget the most important thing—spending time with Jesus. Our excuse is: “There is too much to do.” Therefore, we experience stress instead of peace and joy, even during joyful occasions.

In the presence of Jesus, there is rest, peace, and joy. Mary was experiencing these things. She chose to sit at Jesus’s feet and listen to Him. It is the only thing that is truly needed; the only thing that is necessary. Everything else is secondary and can wait. Jesus wants us to make Him our first priority. He is where we will find the peace and rest from the stress of life. If we choose to spend time with Jesus first, then we can do the other things without stress.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus says “Come”. That means quit going our own way; come His way. We wants us to give our life and schedules to Him and take His yoke of servitude. It is not a heavy yoke because it is His strength, power, grace, and presence that makes it possible for us to serve and follow Him.

Let Christ create your schedule and make spending time with Him your top priority. Then you will find rest, peace, and joy in all you do.

Unavoidable loss: The loss of a loved one, a church member, our health, job, reputation, or marriage brings stress into our life. I don’t know anyone who suffered as much loss at one time as Job. He lost his wealth, his health, and all his children in a short period of time.

Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

What was Job’s response to his loss? He worshipped and praised God. He did not curse, complain, or turn away from God. He did not blame God. Instead, he trusted Him and drew closer to God, who alone could answer his all-consuming question—why has this happened? Coming close to God is the right way to handle the stress and grief from our losses.

Lack of provision: Financial issues cause a lot of stress in families and individuals. We wonder where the money will come to pay the bills. Worry and anxiety do not help.

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first is how our needs will be met, not because God gives us everything we want, but because He gives us self-discipline, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will tell us what adjustments we need to make so that our income meets our spending. We need to obey God, discipline ourselves, and make those adjustments. With less stuff, there will be less stress. Seeking God first will put us on the pathway where all our needs are provided.

Trials: James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

In other words, joyfully allow the trial to run its course. This joy is not giddiness, but a deep joy from the confidence that God loves me regardless of what is happening. Don’t fight the trial because God has a plan to work this out for good. In the meantime, God is trying to develop something in us, called perseverance. The only way to develop it is through trials.

Why is perseverance important? We need it to become mature, complete in Christ, and to develop His character. Otherwise, we remain immature and unable to help anyone else going through a trial. Furthermore, we need perseverance to withstand the enemy’s attacks and the advancing rule of the anti-Christ, which will bring severe persecution.

However, a trial will not mature us if we become bitter, blaming God, and don’t accept it joyfully. If we kick against what God is doing, we become bitter, mad at God and everyone else, totally wrapped up in our selfishness and self-pity.

Remember, we have a limited view. We need God’s perspective about what is happening.

So, when we are in a trial, we need to ask God for wisdom. Most of us forget to do this. God has promised us generous wisdom, if we will believe and do what He says. God wants us to make right decisions. He wants us to ask Him for advice. He will not scold us for past failures. He wants us to quit stressing, making our own decisions, and messing up our lives.

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Knowledge is not sufficient. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It causes us to pray and obey Him, which is the wisest course of action. When we are fearing God, praying, and obeying Him, stress is greatly reduced, because we are walking in His ways and resting in Him.

However, if we ask, then don’t believe and obey, we will act on our own opinion and the opinions of others. This leads to our downfall, because we won’t receive anything from the Lord when we do things our own way. It doesn’t do any good to say we believe God and then not obey His Word. That is double-mindedness. The truth is: what we do is what we really believe. Read His Word so you can gain wisdom and make right decisions. Then do what He says. That is true faith that will receive what is promised.

ISAIAH 41:10 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.

God has a lot to say in this one verse that will enable us to properly handle stress if we do what He says.

1. Do not fear. Fear God, but do not fear what you are facing. Fear of anything other than God is the opposite of faith. It is from the enemy, who uses fear to paralyze us. That is why God says, “do not fear”.

Psalms 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Seeking the Lord is the key to being delivered from worry and fear; thereby, alleviating stress.

2. For I am with you. Fortunately, we don’t have to seek very far. God is with us!

This is a remarkable statement and revelation of God’s love. God is with His children all the time, all the way till the end. Even during the time of death, we do not fear, because the LORD is with us! Death is not the end, for we have eternal life with God!

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Since God, The Almighty One, Creator of Heaven and Earth, is with us, this should put all our problems into their proper perspective. They are not as big as they seem. They are certainly not too big for Almighty God, who is with us.

3. Do not be dismayed. To be dismayed is to be discouraged. Discouragement comes from the devil, whose aim is to get us down and keep us down. He tempts all of us to give up.

In Jesus, there is no cause for discouragement, but full confidence of His love, His control, and His purpose in the midst of stressful situations.

4. For I am your God. This is a very personal word: God says, “I am your God.” Notice, it is not the believer who is saying to the LORD, “You are mine.” it is the LORD saying to the believer, “I am your God and you are mine.”

Has Jesus said to you, “I am your God, your Lord and Savior?” If so, then you are blessed and you can depend on Him to act on your behalf exactly as His Word says He will!

5. I will strengthen you. The Lord gives us strength and endurance. God gives us grace to have peace and joy during times of stress and trials. God uses these trials for our benefit and blessing even though they are difficult to endure.

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

6. I will help you. Even when we are so stressed that it is difficult to pray, the Lord says He will help us. His Word reminds us that the Holy Spirit will make intercession for us.

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Whether our need is physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, at home, at work, or a concern for a loved one, the promise remains true—“I will help you!” He may not remove the problem, but the Holy Spirit will help us throughout the problem. He will work it out for good, according to His purpose, and we will be blessed. Do you believe that? If so, rest in His promise.

7. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Never forget that He, who died on Calvary and was resurrected, promised that He would never leave us or forsake us!

John 10:27-30 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

No matter what the circumstances appear to be, God will uphold us with His hand! He can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, a victim into a victor!

God loves us and we are never separated from His love! If we leave Him, He grieves over what we will suffer, and He eagerly awaits for our repentance and return.

1 Peter 5:6-7, Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Therefore, the point of this message is: don’t try to handle your stress. Take all of your anxiety and stress to Jesus, because He cares for you. A great thing about believing and trusting Jesus with your life is that God handles your stress if you give it to Him—really give it to Him. It takes humility to give God complete control. Pride won’t do this. The prideful try to keep control, and they get all the stress that goes with struggling for control.

God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Faith is not a passive belief. Faith seeks God in order to hear Him and obey Him. Faith actively does what God says with full confidence and assurance that God exists, He is in control, and He will do what He says.

When we get into God’s presence, we find rest, confidence, and full assurance that what God said will happen. In His presence, there is joy and peace. The trial will still be here, but the stress is gone. This is what God wants for His children.

So, quit handling your stress and seek the LORD! When we quit seeking the LORD, the enemy brings fear, worry, and stress that robs us of our joy and peace. Let stress be a warning that you need to draw closer to the LORD and remain at His feet, listening to Him (like Mary).

Stress is unavoidable, but not impossible to conquer. If we seek Christ, focus on Him, obey Him, and think on the things His Word tells us to think about, we will be delivered from stress.

On the other hand, if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is impossible to live in peace. Stress will handle you. No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. It is this simple.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but only to those who belong to Him. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly confess your faith. Then repent of your sin and give your life to Christ Jesus by following Him in baptism. You will be raised to live a new life, born of the Holy Spirit. Then you will know true peace and joy. Your trials will still be there, but the stress will be gone and you will be blessed.