Sometimes I liken my thoughts to a bunch of tangled christmas lights, the ones that flicker all at once all the time. It’s like there are a million thoughts going through my head at different speeds about a million different topics, often accompanied by a pounding headache, tight muscles, feeling exhausted, inability to concentrate, as well as just feeling plain rubbish. Can anyone relate?
What am I talking about ?
Stress can be defined as: ’emotional, physical and mental strain on our bodies due to our circumstances.’
Stress affects so many parts of our bodies in various ways. It causes our cardiovascular system to work at twice the speed and makes our heart-rate faster than it should be. It makes our digestive system not function well making heartburn and acid reflux a likely side affect. It also makes our muscles tight, our sleep becomes compromised and our ability to concentrate can also be hindered when stress is over taking our lives.
I have had seasons of stress where I could definitely tell that my body wasn’t working to its full potential based on the events that were going on around me. It really didn’t make the situation any easier when I was sleep deprived and feeling just plain rubbish! Thankfully these times of stress don’t have to be a constant in our lives even if we can’t seem to see a way out in the midst of it. There IS hope!
What does God say about stress? How can we not let it overwhelm us?
While there are many verses that speak of stress and anxiety in the Bible one verse that stands out to me is in Proverbs 3:5-6. It says “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
This really resonates with me. How I dealt with stress and hard times pre Jesus was so vastly different to how I would now. It isn’t always easy to trust God in those extremely stressful times but I do believe that TRUST is a huge factor of what kind of outcome we can have. When we truly believe that the stress in our lives doesn’t get to dictate how our days, weeks, months, and years even will go it helps us shift our trust to God and His solutions over ways that could be potentially harmful to us.
How else can we combat stress as a Christian?
This can seem like such a cliche thing to suggest but honestly I’m sure in stressful times (like really stressful) this simple act can be easily forgotten about. In 1 Peter 5-7 it says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” Note how it says ALL your anxiety on Him. He does actually care about it all regardless of whether it is big or small.
Prayer helps our communication with God to stay open, honest and real. There is no perfect prayer. It’s simply you and God, sharing with Him whats going on in your life. there is no right or wrong.
I don’t know about you but for me listening to some really great worship music can totally transform my day and I can come away feeling like that weight of all my stress has been lifted off. It is a great feeling! We can ALL spare 5 minutes to stop what we are doing and find somewhere quiet to worship God. The car, the garage, our backyards, we all have somewhere!
Reading Gods Word
This one for me is hard in general, but in times of trouble (while this should be) it isn’t always my go to stress buster. While this can be a hard thing to dig in to I truly believe our stress can be eleviated when we take our eyes off our situation and turn them towards Jesus!
There is also the suggestions to combat stress that we have been told over and over that are still good for us. Good food, getting enough quality sleep and regular fitness. These things are important contributors to help manage our stress, because stressful times WILL come so its key to have things to turn to that are helpful, safe and effective.
Be mindful of how much you are taking on. Are you overcommitting? Do you need to pull back and say no to things a bit more? Learning what our limits and boundaries are is such a vital part in managing stress and avoiding a burnout situation from occurring. The impact of that can often be more difficult than the stress itself!
To conclude, life can often be hard. It can be devastating and it can be painful. We are not exempt from the hardships of life just because we choose Jesus. He has however given us ways that can make those tough times more bearable of which I mentioned above. My hope is that when tough times come and life becomes stressful that you can remember who it is that your faith is in and that He is ultimately larger than your circumstances.And don’t forget those hard timed are what grow us because if life was always stress-free we wouldn’t need Jesus!
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”