Let’s talk about stress for a moment. I wanted to address this issue because it’s a real threat that is destroying so many lives, even – and especially – believers. We live in a fast-paced society and the pressure to measure up is astounding. Whether it’s in our parenting, our marriage, our career, our health, our friendships, or our ministry – there is great pressure placed on us.
Think about it! When we get up in the morning, our wheels start turning with all the things we want to get accomplished for that day. Before we have a chance to get a piece of paper, our to-do list is already growing.
And then as soon as our feet hit the ground, we start running as hard as we can.
And we don’t stop!
When we finally fall into bed at night, we are utterly exhausted but we have a hard time turning off our minds so our sleep is hindered. And feelings of despair wash over us if we did not get everything done that we had set out to do that day.
Stress can affect us in many ways, but let’s address two important ways here: physically and spiritually.
Physically, stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges.
Hence, stress-related tension builds.
Stress can lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping. It can also play a part in heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, depression and anxiety.
Did you know that 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress? And did you also know that 75-90% of doctor’s visits are stress-related ailments and complaints?
And then there are the spiritual repercussions!
When we’re stressed, we lose our joy and passion.
We cannot help others grow in their faith or shine a light for Jesus if we are stressed-out. Our stress consumes us so that we cannot be a positive influence in others’ lives, and that includes our families and loved ones as well.
But here’s the good news. As believers, we don’t have to live under the weight of stress. We can live productive lives, accomplishing a lot, without being stressed out. Here are a couple important principles to keep in mind:
- Find time to rest! I’m not sure what Jesus saw as He looked at the audience on this day, but this is what He said to them: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It’s here that Jesus demonstrates the importance of rest. And complete rest can only be found in Him.
Last summer was one of the most stressful times of my life. My husband had taken a temporary job in Washington DC and we were moving to South Carolina. And my mom was moving in with us. While our house was being built, my mom and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment. My daughter was also going through a lot of stress in her preparation of moving to SC as well.
I knew that I needed time with God each day to keep me positive. So, I prayed He would provide a way. And He did something so beyond my expectations. He provided an outside sanctuary at the apartment complex. And right in the middle of it, there was a cross.
This is where I met with Him each day and this is where He poured out His Word into my weary body.
Let me encourage you: find a time and place for rest. Physical rest, Yes! But please don’t negate spiritual rest as well.
Only Jesus can restore your joy.
2. Set Boundaries! In other words, learn to say NO. This is really hard for us people pleasers. But here’s the thing: if we don’t learn to set boundaries, we will quickly face burn-out.
Jesus set plenty of boundaries. He said no on a number of occasions as He walked on His Father’s time-table, not the people’s time-table. He even withdrew from the crowds to be alone with His Father (Luke 5:16).
This is speaking to me as much as it is you. Setting boundaries is like putting a fence around your property to protect what’s yours. And in this case, we need to protect our joy, our peace of mind, and our sanity.
The great thing about living on this side of the cross is that Jesus has opened up a place for us to rest. Let’s utilize it and win the war on the stress threatening our survival.
Upcoming Bible study topic
JOSHUA: HEAVEN’S MIGHTY WARRIOR
Begins January 8, 2016