I have heard several people say lately that STRESS is killing them and that they need to get completely away from situations that cause STRESS. It seems that we would rather run from stress than to learn from it. Would the absence of stress, trials, tribulations and troubles bring us peace?
Stress comes at us from the areas of physical, mental and emotional situations. Of course, we can kill ourselves by overloading our lives with so many things to do that we never have time to rest – that is not the kind of stress I am talking about – not the self-inflicted kind. I am talking about the stress that comes from living everyday life in a world full of people.
What brings growth to a Christian on the Damascus Road? According to James 1 we are to consider it a gift and count it a JOY when tests and challenges come at us from all sides. Because you know that under pressure your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. That passage goes on to say – so, don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so that you can become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. (Message Bible)
We also read in Romans 5 that the stairway to maturity begins with troubles- troubles that wind up making us patient and mature. So, if trials, troubles, tribulations and pressure that bring stress are actually designed to mature us, then why are more Americans living on tranquilizers and committing suicide than ever before? Why do we think that the absence of stress will bring peace? Some change relationships like we change clothes instead of working through problems. This kind of thinking sets us up to continually have the same problems with a different face and a different situation.
Could it be that we have our heart in reverse? Could it be that our mind is thinking in reverse of God’s Word? Perfect peace is brought by keeping our mind on God. That is a direct promise in Isaiah 26:3. The Word also tells us that in this world, we will have troubles. That is another direct statement in Jesus Words. (John 16:33) But the great promise right before this statement of trouble is: all these things I have told you so that in me you might have peace! Read the advice Jesus gave before this verse.
Peace is not the absent of stress. Peace is a choice and a fruit of the Spirit. When stress enters our life, it is our choice on how to think or view it. Stress will steal from you or strengthen you-depending upon how you view its entrance in your life. If you view it through the filter of the Word of God, you will rejoice. If you view it through the scripture – Isaiah 26:3 you will immediately turn your thoughts to the God of peace. If we ask God to show us what we are to learn through each situation, we will grow from it. If we run, blame others or miss the lesson, we will most likely repeat the stress test. This is the start of bondage. Any response other than turning to Jesus will allow bondage patterns to set up in our life as habits. The more we turn to alternatives for relief from stress, the deeper that habit becomes.
You cannot build a muscle without stressing it. You cannot toughen your inner spiritual walk without the outside pressure of stress. What makes us feel weak can be our greatest strength. 2nd Corinthians 12:10: That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Stress + looking for temporary relief = bondage. Stress + obeying Gods word = Maturity!