August 2, 2019
Rev. Everette Kitchens
How would you describe the world we live in today? Challenging, fast-paced, dangerous, unstable, immoral? The apostle Paul describes the last days as "perilous times" (2 Timothy 3:1). What are the results? Stress! We can find ourselves feeling anxious and apprehensive about how the challenges of the world will affect us personally. Thinking about these things, we can simply get stressed out.
A group of people were asked to write down some of the things that cause stress in their lives. Here are a few responses:
"At the moment the most stressful things for me are dealing with my health issues, paying bills and feeling worthless because I can no longer do what I used to do…"
"I tend to worry over a matter. What if this happens or what if that happens, or how can I solve this? So I worry over problems―real or not real: the job status, money, my anger that comes at times."
"I take on things that I feel I can't handle. I don't know how to say ‘no' and say, ‘That's too much for me right now.' I stress over everything!"
"It is very hard for me to not be able to please everyone. So this causes stress in my life."
What Does the Bible Say About Coping With Stress?
The Bible is God's instruction manual for life. It provides the answers and gives us comfort, peace and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Can the Bible really show us how to deal with our stress, regardless of our situation?
Let's look at some specific biblical principles that can help us cope with stress.
Does God show us how to reduce stress?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
When negative experiences and situations are coming at you, and when it seems overwhelming, then stop, take a deep breath and simply take time to focus on something lovely and good. Overcoming stress starts with the ability to control our thoughts. We need to focus on the positive, uplifting things of God.
Can God help if my problems seem overwhelming?
But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
Even if we can't change something, God can. Do we believe that? Have you ever thought about asking God to help you change a situation that is causing you stress?
How can I find comfort in dealing with the trouble and stress in my life?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
God promises to comfort us in our times of stress. How about trying to be a comfort to someone else who may be going through greater difficulties than you are? Giving comfort or helping someone in another way usually brings satisfaction and joy to the giver. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving" (Acts 20:35, Good News Translation). Part of coping with stress is learning to put it in the right perspective.
Can I expect my life to be more peaceful if I ask God for help?
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
God's plan is to bring peace to a troubled world at the return of Jesus Christ. We can have that peace now if we follow His plan for peace. It involves a lifestyle change and a change in our hearts. Peace is part of the fruit of God's Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Is there hope even if I feel like I've reached my limit in a very serious, stressful situation?
1 Corinthians 10:13 (Good News Translation)
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.
Consider biblical examples of people facing severe trials. Whatever the trial, when they asked God for help, He provided the strength and help for them to bear it. Jesus Christ Himself was "in agony" and "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" as He prayed before His crucifixion (Luke 22:44). God strengthened Him, and God will strengthen us as well when we ask.
Why do I have to put up with so much stress in my life? Why doesn't God just take it away when I ask Him?
1 Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
We need to believe there is a reason for our trials and that God is in control. God is not far off and unconcerned. He really is working in our lives to transform us from what we are into what He wants us to become. We need to accept trials and tests and understand what they are doing for us.
What is the ultimate purpose of my stressful trials?
1 Timothy 2:3-4
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Peter 5:10
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
We go through stressful trials for a reason: God is working with us! He was working with Joseph when he was at the bottom of a well and when he was in an Egyptian prison. Joseph had a reason to be stressed out. When Daniel was in the lion's den, he, too, had a reason to be stressed out. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego were facing their fiery trial, they also had a reason to be stressed out.
But they kept going and obeying God. They faced their doubts and fears. They didn't collapse in self-pity and wonder why God was allowing this to happen to them. When you come to realize that there is a divine purpose for your trials, then the stress of dealing with them should diminish.
Can I have confidence that God understands my stress?
Romans 8:35, 38-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Whatever trial you're going through, it cannot separate you from the love of God. He understands! Jesus Christ knows what it's like to be human. He loves us.
Ask God to help you learn the lesson He has for you. Ask God to help you build His character through your trial. There is nothing wrong with letting God know you're having trouble and you need His help. He wants you to trust Him―to rely on Him for help.