Stress…ugh! Even the word "stress" makes me more stressed. How crazy is that?
Let's be honest…stress is real and we experience it all the time. It is simply our bodies response to pressure and uncertainty. And here's the deal: because we are not God and because we are finite, we are surrounded by pressure and uncertainty. We do not understand what is happening, let alone why it is happening. It's part of being human. And a very real part of our everyday lives.
For many of us, when we think of stress we think it's always bad. Don't get me wrong, stress can be deeply wounding. It can cause physical issues. But what if I told you that God has a different purpose for stress? What if I told you that because we live in a world full of stress, that our God, the great Redeemer, wants to do a deep work in our lives through the very seasons of stress that we dread?
As children of God, I believe that God wants to teach us how to not only survive in this world, but to thrive, even in seasons of stress. But how? Let's look at three tools that help us do just that.
Stress is Temporary
In the midst of the battle, it's hard to remember that stress is temporary. But whatever uncertainties and pressures we feel, it won't always be that way. Our body's response is temporary. During stress, we can make the mistake of piling up all those feelings that we are experiencing and making things much bigger than they really are. So we need to preach to ourselves and not just listen to ourselves.
We can forget that whatever is triggering our stress response is temporary, and we need a reminder. That test? It will come and go. That surgery? The same, it will happen and then it will be over and we will be on to the next thing. Issues at work? We can work through it, and this problem is only temporary. And so on. When we learn to put a temporary time frame on the object of our stress, it immediately shrinks down to the size it should be, and allows us to manage things much better.
Receive God's Grace
So many things in life are uncertain. Which is why stress is everywhere we look.
But there is one that we can be certain of. One thing that changes everything.
We can count on God's grace.
How can we be certain of God's grace? Because Jesus is real. Jesus really came, lived perfectly before the Father, died on a cross and rose again. Jesus really ascended into heaven and poured out His Spirit. Our faith tells us that God is for us, and not against us, because of Jesus and our faith in Him.
And my friends, the certainty that we are children of God because of the finished work of Jesus is an absolute game changer. So in times of uncertainty, we stand on the rock. We lean into the undeniable grace of God.
Rejoice in Jesus
Just like with any business, where we put our energy is an investment. And the older I get, the more I'm aware that we only have a limited amount of energy to invest. We put our energy in certain places and we expect a return on that investment.
So here's the thing: when we allow stress to consume us and eat our lunch, we invest our energy in that stress and the return is horrible. Instead of feeling energized and ready to take on life's challenges, we feel more exhausted, less hopeful and pretty irritable.
But when we redirect our stress to point us to Jesus, we invest our energy in praise and worship. And truly the cure for stress is worship. Instead of placing our trust in our uncertainty, instead we trust in Jesus and praise Him for how good He is. We say, "Lord, you are bigger than these crazy circumstances. And I lift up your great name above everything else." That worship blossoms into a deeper sense of trust on our part and more glory is given to God. Not only that, as God is glorified, we are blessed. And part of that blessing is walking in freedom. Because God designed us to grow and yes, thrive, in our seasons of stress. So recognize it and rejoice, because God is on the move and we are right in the middle of the action!
Daniel Fusco is a pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington, and author of “You’re Gonna Make It: Unlocking Resilience When Life is a Mess” (Waterbrook, 2022). His radio, podcast and TV programs are broadcast across the nation.