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How Can I Biblically Respond to Stress?

 

We become steadfast Christians, able to endure and overcome through the power of Jesus Christ. Job stress has become such a universal problem that many medical professionals now classify it as an occupationally related disease, precipitating numerous other serious problems such as ulcers, depression, and even suicide.

Causes of Stress

In our complex environment, however, pressure on the job is just one of many causes of high tension and anxiety. Family trouble, financial difficulty, and other factors induce a great deal of turmoil. In fact, there is even a detailed list that assigns points to the various sources of stress. For example, the most stressful of events is the death of a spouse, next divorce, then marital separation, a jail term, death of another family member, and illness or injury.

Still, the strains of work account for many of the stress producing agents, including dismissal, retirement, business readjustment, change to a different kind of work, change in work responsibilities, trouble with supervision, and change in work hours or conditions.

Common Reactions to Stress

There are several common reactions to stress. Many try to flee the problem--changing jobs, bosses, or environment--in the hopes that the irritation will go away. Some internalize their duress, seeking to suppress it. However, it usually spills over into some other area, most often into the family life. Still others crumble emotionally, giving way to despair and depression.

The Christian's Responses to Stress

The believer's response to such adversity is critical if he is to emerge successfully. The Word of God reveals several fundamental principles that can bring us through tough times and even positively benefit our spiritual and emotional well-being in the process.

First, we should look at our situation as with a telescope, not under a microscope. All too often, we magnify our troubles beyond their significance and in so doing increase their pressure. Instead, remember that God is the author and finisher of our faith, knowing the end from the beginning and providing all of our necessities for the present. Concentrate on today's problems, not tomorrow's, and thank God for His daily grace to sustain you.

Second, rely on God's strength, not yours. Satan deceives us into thinking we can handle our strains in our own cleverness and abilities--until we are almost at the breaking point. The key is to lean on His indwelling might at the initial stage of the problem. God's strength comes as He stabilizes our emotions with His peace, infuses our hearts with His joy, and provides us with His all-sufficient wisdom to deal with any hardship in life. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength" (Isaiah 40.29). Third, thank God that He is at work producing some positive results from your stressful circumstances.

Trials always turn us toward the Lord, seeking and trusting Him with new fervor. Trials also are working in us to create sturdier Christian character and the ability to persevere under the load. "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3, 4). As we turn to the sufficiency of Christ and trust in His power and wisdom, we gain new spiritual maturity and hardiness of spirit.

How God Uses Our Stressful Times

God is never out to break us or shatter us. He knows our frame and will not overload us in times of stress. Rather, He seeks to use our stressful times as cleverly disguised opportunities for us to gain His perspective, l lean on His strength, and develop steadfastness with which we can run life's course. God may not change the circumstance that is pressing so grievously on you. He may not remove that person who vexes you so greatly. He may not heal that affliction that daily grates away at your body and soul. But, He will dramatically alter your own emotions and responses as you turn to Him instead of running or exploding.

Over time, you truly will find His strength, wisdom, and presence sufficient for the fray. Your stress will become a catalyst for spiritual stability, instead of an agent of destruction and despair. The pressure will reinforce your faith, not weaken it. We became steadfast Christians, able to endure and overcome through the power of Jesus Christ.

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22).

For further insights, read the following passages:

Isaiah 30:15
Matthew 5:11-12
Matthew 6:25-34
Luke 12:22-34
Acts 5:40-41