Pressure. Tension. Strain. We’ve all been there… when either the demands of others or the demands we place on ourselves cause stress in our lives. In previous posts from this series, we’ve dealt with finding God’s peace in the chaos of life and when you’re emotionally exhausted. But stress… stress is different. When I was in college, we were required to take a course on stress management. My main takeaway was that stress is inevitable. It’s a part of life. And in the end, it’s what we do with stress that matters most.
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What if I told you that stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing? When we think of stress, our minds often equate it with anxiety or worry. And while it’s true that difficult circumstances can cause anxiety, stress is different. It’s what we feel when we are under pressure… when life is pushing or pulling us in many different directions… or when our circumstances are too much to carry on our own.
Stress can either damage us or strengthen us…. it all depends on your response.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4
You see, God uses the trials of life to refine us. They give us opportunities to trust Him and to learn how to rely on His strength rather than our own. When a trial comes our way, we have two choices. We can allow them to build us up or to break us down.
So how do you respond when pressure comes your way? How can you trade your stress for God’s peace?
- Identify the problem and take it to God. When stress happens (and it will), take it to God in prayer. Trust that He will keep His promises and that He will work all things together for good.
- Maintain a heavenly perspective. How do you view the world around you? What’s your point of view? Paul reminds us in Colossians that we are to set our minds on things above and not focus on the things of this world.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:1-2
- Trade your weakness for God’s strength. Stress gives us an amazing opportunity to see God’s power at work in our lives. This is why Paul tells us to consider it a joy when trials come our way.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
When you trade your stress for God’s peace, you are also exchanging your weaknesses for His joy and supernatural strength.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.