Stress is part of life that can come from a variety of sources. As a pastor, I not only have stress in my own life and ministry, but I also talk to people on a weekly basis who are on the verge of crumbling under the weight of a stress-filled life.
How should Christians deal with stress? Here are five keys to keep in mind.
1- Keep the negative in perspective.
In the heat of the moment it is easy to allow small things to become big things. I have to fight this temptation. Is a cup of spilt juice a bid deal? Not really. Is traffic really a life-altering event? No, but it is easy to let those kinds of circumstances ruin a day. They can change our mood and attitude. The cumulative effect of those small things can create stress that weighs us down. Don’t let it. Keep the negative circumstances in perspective.
2- Live in agreement with your purpose.
This requires that you actually know what your purpose is. I am assuming that you know why you exist. If you can answer that foundational question, then be intentional about living in agreement with that purpose. Perhaps the stress in your life is caused by a life lived in contradiction to what you know your God-given purpose to be.
3- Have an outlet.
Everyone needs an outlet. Maybe it’s going to the gym, the golf course, a coffee shop, the gun range, or simply taking a walk. Whatever the outlet is for you, prioritize it. Without it, the steam inside will build until you explode.
4- Value things that really matter.
This is tough because what we say we value may not actually be what we value. Materialism drives many people in our culture. Many Christians are consumed with the desire for more. In light of eternity, those pursuits really don’t matter. Determine what it is that should matter to you, then value and prioritize it in your life.
5- Be willing to get help.
There are some people who have so much on them that the stress is real. It is not the result of wrong priorities or not knowing one’s purpose. For some people it is simply the cumulative effects of a life filled with trying circumstances. I have sat with people who are dealing with this kind of stress. They are doing all they can do on their own, but it’s not enough. For these people, they need to seek help from others. The Bible calls Christians to bear each other’s burdens. This implies that we allow others to help us. Don’t be so prideful that you fail to get the help you may need.
Stress is real. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves. Other times we are simply facing the results of a sinful world. Regardless of the cause, these five truths can help you gain victory over stress.
There is no debating the fact that life can be hard. We all go through the ups and downs on the rollercoaster of life. The problem is that many people have no idea how to respond during those trials. As a result, their attitude and effectiveness during life becomes completely dictated by circumstances. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a question you can ask in the midst of those hard times that can completely change how you view the trials you are facing.
1- It helps you remember that God is in control.
2- It changes how you tell others about what you are facing.
3- It takes your eyes off of the problem and places them on God.
4- It changes your focus from “Why?” to “What?”
The question is no longer “Why is this happening?”, it is now “What is God teaching?”. It is a reminder that God always has a purpose – even when we don’t see it immediately. Our job is to get on board with what God wants to do in our lives.
The next time you are facing the hard times of life, pause, take a deep breath, and ask, “What does God want me to learn from this?”. It really will make a difference.