What Is The Best Way To Look At Stress?
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
If you have ever been tempted to think that Christians should not face stress, ponder the stress that some of the heroes of the Bible faced. Consider Daniel in the lion’s den. If God doesn’t bring deliverance, he’s on the menu for breakfast the next morning–which would have been “terminal stress.” Think of Esther, the young woman who risked her life going before King Xerxes. “If I perish, I perish!” she cried. Yes, she knew what stress is. Then there is Joseph, falsely convicted of sexual assault, unjustly thrown in prison and seemingly forgotten by God because of his moral uprightness. Don’t think that Joseph was a stranger to stress.
If they had given gold medals for stress, the Apostle Paul would surely have deserved one. His entire life was a study of stress. Consider just a few of the stressful events of the second missionary journey. He had an argument with his best friend, Barnabas. That’s stressful! He wanted to go into Bithynia or Russia as we know it today, and the door was closed. That’s stressful! Finally coming to Philippi, he was not well received but beaten and thrown into prison. The stress meter must have really jumped when all of that happened. Yet Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Frankly, there are times when you face certain stress because you are doing the right thing: the wife whose husband is a rascal, the youth who is rejected by his parents because of his faith, the individual who is persecuted because he or she doesn’t go along with the crowd.
To suggest that believers should be immune from the consequences of stress is about as unrealistic as saying that Christians should never have colds or the flu, but (and I want you to get this), the way a Christian views stressful events and circumstances, and how he relates to them, has a great deal to do with how he copes with them.
At some point the believer has to ask, “Where is God in relationship to the events which are causing me so much stress? Has He forsaken and forgotten me? Or is He still in charge of the events which are really stressing me out?” At some point when you face stress you have to ask, “Do I believe what Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:11, which says that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”? Do I believe Romans 8:28 is true–that God works all things for good because I love Him and I am called according to His purpose?
If you answer, “Yes!” to those questions you begin to see the stressful events as tools in the hands of a loving God as He, fully in control, takes them and begins to use them in shaping your life, perhaps knocking off some of the rough edges, bringing you into conformity with the will and purpose of God.
You are no longer a victim of circumstances, a target of individuals who dislike you or even hate you. You are God’s child, and you then begin to seek solutions from a totally different perspective than that of the person who is not a Christian.
For the child of God, nothing takes Him by surprise. He knew about those situations which cause you stress long before He ever created you. When tomorrow comes, God will be there and He will welcome you with arms outstretched.
May I say it again? The way you as a Christian view stressful events, and how you relate to them, has a great deal to do with how you cope with them. Either you are a victim of circumstances or a child of the King. One or the other, but not both.
Resource reading: John 16:25-33