”The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life do not make me the way I am but reveal the way that I am.” Sam and Mary Peebles
In the journey of life, most people are not enjoying the trip because of stress and anxiety. In our everyday lives, stress is becoming such a huge problem that is only increasing with each passing day. Learning to reduce the stress in your life can help you to live a more Christlike life. Inner stress and tension has to do with who you are on the inside. It reveals the way you are.
Stress is ok when it increases our capacity to act or think or feel. But when it gets out of hand, it is dangerous. Normal tension is followed by relaxation but if the muscles, emotions or brain refuse to relax, it passes into abnormal tension. This is when a person never relaxes. I went through a period on the mission field where I had to take a three-month break just because I could no longer cope with the stress in my life. I did not know how to say “no”, and I was doing too much for too long. I was a young person in my twenties, and I had let my stress get so out of hand until I reached a point where I couldn’t do anything! This is not what God wants for any of us. God used that stressful time to reveal what was inside of me and to change me. I learned to say “no”, and I continue to evaluate my activities on a regular basis.
“For me, the hardest word in the English language is no. I would like to say yes to everyone and everything, but obedience to Christ requires me at times to say no. Like the gardener pruning the vine, I must constantly trim away unnecessary activities if new life is to spring forth.” Dwight Carlson
There are so many things in life that can make us feel stressful. Some of them are emotional problems, Satanic opposition, overwork or bordom with work, disease, wrong attitudes or thought patterns, too many changes, unresolved conflicts in childhood where there was a lack of love and security, unconfessed sin and so many more things. There are few, if any, of us that can escape many of the stresses of life. The symptoms of stress are many – tiredness, loss of appetite, headaches, health changes, digestive disturbances, feelings of worthlessness, irritations, anger, emotional instability, anxiety, lack of sleep, health changes and the list goes on and on.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down” (Proverbs 12:25).
There are several things we need to realize regarding stress. These are things we need to understand within our own hearts in order to better cope with stress. We must realize the following:
- Realize that overwork can be a strategy of Satan – When you are tired, it affects everything – your work output, your motivation and ambition, your ability to deal with problems, your restfulness, your mental stability and your satisfaction. See I Peter 5:8.
- Realize that you will always face stressful circumstances – Everyday you are confronted with stressful situations whether it is with your job, your friends, your future, etc. You can’t get away from it. See I Timothy 1:7, I Corinthians 4:7-11.
- Realize you don’t have to be a victim of stressful circumstances – Stress is a reaction. We need inner resources to deal with our circumstances. See John 16:33.
- Realize that God intends for you to do His will – This means that we need to set limits and pray through our activities. We need to trim away that which is not necessary. See Exodus 34:21.
- Realize that God is sufficient and He has provided for our basic needs – He provides security and significance and the fruit of the Spirit – love (I John 4-8), joy (John 15:11) peace (John 14:27) and comfort (II Corinthians 1:3-4).
The Lesson for today: Stress is ok until you can no longer relax and when it causes many negative reactions. Satan wants you exhausted and overworked, unable to cope. Stress is a part of life but you don’t have to be victims of stressful circumstances. Learn to say “no” and evaluate your life regularly. Stress comes from within. God is sufficient and He has provided all that you need to do His will. Learn to live life in the fruit of the Spirit and not in the flesh. When God controls your life, He produces the fruit in you.
“But what happens to our responses when things begin to go wrong? Our past accomplishments will not sustain us in the midst of trouble. God understands this and has provided the basic essentials of life in the fruit of the Spirit. Some of these ingredients: love, joy, comfort and peace will sustain us in every situation. God expects us to get them from Him. When He controls our life, He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.” Sam and Mary Peeble
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