God and Your Stress
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7, The Message
I never cease to be amazed at the vast amounts of money spent on research which at times only certifies the obvious. Don’t misunderstand me. Undoubtedly, there is value in proving scientifically what almost everybody already suspects.
Take, for example, the headline which appeared in papers, announcing, STRESS CALLED KEY FACTOR IN HEART RISK. The article reported a five-year study of 107 patients with heart disease. Researchers demonstrated that those who had learned to manage stress have fewer heart attacks, 74 percent fewer, than those who are only treated with medicine.
Obviously when someone is so stressed that he turns red in the face and the veins in his neck stand out like steel cables in a suspension bridge, his ticker has gone into turbo drive, and that’s not very healthy.
We live in a stress-filled world, whether you fight the traffic on a busy freeway and bite your nails because you are going to be late for work, or you live in the province and worry about not having enough money to pay for the medicine your child needs to get well. The factors causing stress may be different, but stress is everybody’s problem today.
How do we combat it? Do God’s children have an inside to coping? Or, perhaps, the better question is, “Should they have means of coping with stress that their non-religious counterpart lacks?”
The stock antidote to stress is “stop smoking, eat well, and exercise.” Those things are well and good but not enough. Loneliness, anger, sadness and fear also factor into the stress formula.
Research has also demonstrated something which insurance companies should pick up on. Those who believe that God is in control of their lives, and trust Him to do what they can’t, live with less stress and have fewer heart attacks.
Question: Who is in control of your life? Yes, I acknowledge that doesn’t eliminate the problem you have of coping with a boss who is difficult on a good day and impossible on a medium-to-bad day. But when you take what the New Testament says literally and apply it to your life, it makes a big difference.
For example, try reading Matthew 6 every day, noting what Jesus said about the birds of the air and how God takes care of them—and then force yourself to answer the question, “Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Memorize Philippians 4:6, which says in The Living Bible, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers.”
Begin each day by taking at least 15 minutes to read and meditate on Scripture, perhaps starting with the Psalms, and then commit the needs of your day to the Lord, asking Him to deal with those difficult situations which make for stress in your life.
Learn the power of prayer and what it does, not only for the person for whom you pray but, for you as well. “Prayer Changes Things,” reads the little motto which hung on the wall of my grandmother’s bedroom. I understand what that means, but I’ve come to learn that prayer changes people and people change things.
Knowing that God is your heavenly Father helps you to put life in perspective and realize that 50 years from now, perhaps even 50 days from now, it just won’t matter. But your relationship with God will count even when the stars have burned themselves out and become cinders. Because God loves you and is in control of your life, a lot of what causes stress just isn’t worth the cost of worry.
Resource reading: Philippians 4:1-23