The past year 2020 will be remembered, in the lives of those that lived through it, for all their lives. One thing that 2020 has reminded me of is the stressfulness of life. All of us deal with stress in different ways. I wonder how many of us really take the time to apply the Biblical practices for dealing with stress.
The stress of life comes at us from all directions. Life itself with our major life crisis’s is stressful enough. It is filled with the normal life stressors- life relationships, finances and other struggles. The working person is familiar with the stresses of their job. It could be something like a pending deadline. Parents know of the stress of raising kids through all the stages from birth (loss of sleep) to the teen years (dealing with attitudes). If this is not enough we are dealing with the stress of an epidemic and corollary effects in our lives. The challenge is that non-Biblical approaches to dealing with stress are almost always self-destructive. This could be to just ignore the issues, but we usually pay a greater cost later when we are required to deal with them. The consequences could be physical, relational or financial.
The Apostle Paul coaches the church at Philippi, and us, in how to embrace life stress biblically. First, he reminds us that we have control over our emotions which play a huge factor in our ability to embrace stress. He calls us to choose to view life situations from God’s perspective. If you have even been seasick you intuitively know that you can’t keep looking at the boat or the waves. Your only hope is to focus on a fixed point that is not bouncing around like the horizon. It is easy for us to become stress sick when we allow ourselves to focus on the circumstances in our lives. The solution is to focus on the fixed point of the Lord and the way that He is working. The next verse reminds us that we can do this because “The Lord is at hand.” It is a reminder that the Lord is in control in a reference to His imminent return for His people. It is this reality that gives us stability through the stress storms of life.
He continues by reminding us to not let our emotions control us. We must control our emotions by giving up our desire to be in control. Stress is caused by conflicting expectations with life. When life does not meet our expectations, or go the way we think it should go, the result can be anger, fear, anxiety or even an attitude of indifference. The problem is that each of these results is not really a solution. The way that we keep our focus on the Lord during the tumultuous seasons of life is through bringing our burdens to the Lord. It is embracing that He is God and we are not. The pressure relief valve is realized when we come to Him with our anger, anxiety, fear and indifference that we can find peace. Stress is always going to be a component of life. No one is exempt! The question is how you will handle it.
We receive the greatest blessings by embracing stress Biblically through keeping our focus on the only fixed point in the raging seas of life, the Lord. And we do that by coming to him with our cares, concerns, frustration and fear. It is then that something miraculous happens, our attitude change. We experience the peace of God in our lives. The peace is found in trusting God even though we cannot figure out what is happening. It is then that we have beaten stress in our lives and become a greater testimony for the Lord to those around us. So how about you? How are you dealing with the stress in your life? Can I encourage you to turn over your problem to the Lord. Why don’t you talk to Him now?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson