There are quite frankly some weeks you would rather forget. Often those type of weeks are a result of a rough patch at work, squabbles at home, or any number of other factors. When such difficult times occur, it most always produces that nasty “s” word – Stress. I write this article because I experienced a great deal of stress this past week at work and I admittedly did not deal with that inordinate level of stress in a way I should have.
What happens to most of us when we become stressed? I would submit at a minimum we get snippy and impatient with others and at a maximum we completely fly off the handle in a fit of rage. Neither end of that spectrum demonstrates a godly response to stress. Additionally, there is no amount of Calgon that will magically solve the situation that is causing the stress like some magical elixir of peace. If you do not know what Calgon is then you clearly did not grow up in the 1980s like I did. The video below explains the supposed magic of Calgon:
I am quite sure we would all love to sprinkle a little bath soap into the tub, fill it with hot water so that the stress of life melts away to be experienced no more. Well, we can all fantasize as much as we want; however, that particular fantasy is just not going to come to pass this side of heaven.
Does this mean we are doomed to deal with stress and to fly off the handle or to be snippy with those we love for the rest of our lives? While stress will always be a part of daily life due to the sheer demands we all face at work, home, and elsewhere, we can begin to do a much better job of dealing with that stress in a way that brings glory to God and that does not harm our relationships with others. Let’s take a look at what the God’s Word says about dealing with stress.
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.”
Seriously? We are to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds? Absolutely and for the explicit reason that this testing of our faith produces endurance. This means that stressful events are a good opportunity to strengthen our faith.
Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
King David certainly experienced a great many stressful events in his life. For instance, King Saul pursued him, desiring to kill him. I would submit that qualifies as being under stress. Anxiety and stress are kinfolk with one often leading to the other. What this verse is telling us is when a multitude of thoughts (i.e. stress) comes out way, the place of solace in those situations is found in the arms of God. He is the One who brings joy to us when stress comes calling.
Psalm 119:143, “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.”
Here is another beautiful verse from the Psalms again directing us to where peace in the midst of the storm can be found. The Psalmist declares that when distress (i.e. stress) comes upon him, he finds his delight in the commands of God. These commandments are a reference to God’s Word. When we meditate on the Word of God, we will find peace for His Word shines a needed light in the midst of dark and stressful times. When God’s Word permeates us, we are better prepared to deal properly with stress. Instead of yelling, screaming, becoming angry, and the like, we will instead remember the truths found in Scripture, namely as noted earlier that such testing is often an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Psalm 55:2, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
I hope you are seeing a pattern developing here. The Psalmist once again notes that our sustainment during times of trouble (i.e. stress) comes from the Lord. When we cast our cares upon Him, He will lift us up and will be the rock we can stand upon. This does not mean we just throw up our hands and not deal properly with the situation at hand as if things will magically disappear. We will always have to deal positively and biblically with difficult situations. We are able to deal with those situations properly when and only when our lives are rooted in God and His Word.
Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
We live in a world that has stress because of the weight of sin that bears down upon us. We look forward to a day when sin is no more and all this worry, anxiety, strife, and stress are done away with, a time when the peace of God washes across the universe as Satan and his minions are dealt with for all eternity. Knowing and trusting in this future state helps place our focus in the proper perspective.
Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I will end with this verse which about as clearly as can possibly be said lays out what we are to do when anxiety and stress rear their ugly heads. On top of rooting ourselves in the Word of God, we should be a people devoted to prayer, not just in times of stress, but at all times. If you are having a difficult time at work as I was this past week and likely in the foreseeable future, tell God about what you are going through. He knows what is taking place and He longs to hear from you. When you tell God about your difficulties, we are told the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This means that when we are tempted to lash out, stop and pray. When you have that urge to tell your boss or upper management what you truly think about them, stop and pray.
Remember that Calgon will not save you from stress. It may provide a nice warm bathing experience, but only God can help us in the midst of life’s raging storms. So when you are stressed, when you feel like giving up, when you have that urge to scream, curse, and yell at anyone who will listen within a 100 mile radius, stop and meditate on the verses we just read and discussed. We will not always get it right and there will be times when we do not deal properly with stress. However, when we throw ourselves in the arms of the One who loves us, cares for us, and is watching out for us, we will be better equipped to deal with that “s” word.