STRESS. UGH! A dreaded word. Everyone has stress from time to time. My good friend and late doctor James Mincks, of Bloomfield, once told me that stress, physically, has to come out somewhere, i.e. IBS, ulcers, headaches, cardio, etc., etc. Stress is bad stuff and Christians are not immune to it. It tends to hit us when we are tired, sick, a caregiver, outside of our familiar environment in some way. It can be a result of too many demands, responsibilities, grief, tragedy, when everything seems to be totally out of control. Stress is AWFUL.

As a Christian, and I hope you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, we believe God is sovereign or in total control and yet we often live in such a way that it looks like we do not believe it or even trust Hi or that. That is not a condemnation, but a reality. Been there, done that. Many always quote the old Bible verse that God never puts more on us than we can bear. I have often answered that with this:…”Then the Lord has more confidence in me than I do.”

All of us need to explicitly trust God. It sounds easy but remember that we are in a fallen nature. I do know that answer is true though and it becomes easier when we are walking closely with Him daily. It is easier when we have a devotional life and are in His Word. In fact, backsliding can be a sign we are not trusting God and allowing stress to control us. It can break us down then the more we backslide and ignore our devotional life or church attendance or any spiritual endeavors.

Today I want to quickly share with you five ways to deal with stress as a Christian. First of all, admit that there is a problem causing it. Sounds easy but we do not always do that. We think if we admit it that we are admitting we cannot manage things. No harm in admitting that the problem is bigger than us. When we do, we then are more likely to get some folks to help us wade through the problem that weighs us down wherever it may be.

Secondly, do not beat yourself up. You are not SUPER CHRISTIAN. I, too often as a caregiver, have tried to wade through things alone and the problem is too big for me, let me tell you. And you cannot beat yourself up and you do, when stress hits, take time for your own physical and mental well being. You need rest, good diet, exercise, and an outlet. You need friends and certainly, again, a consistent devotional life. You need to give yourself time and space as well.

I have alluded to this but it is worth noting again. You need to really be in prayer. Prayer does change things, including us. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” We need that peace and prayer is an avenue to get it.

Fourthly, I would suggest getting a little Bible promise book which you can order or find in most Christian book stores. Get in to them. Read them out loud. Pray them back to the Lord. Most are broken down to deal with exactly what category you need. They are powerful and they are going to lift you up.

Finally, no matter what, spend time giving thanks and praise. The Bible tells us that God dwells in the praises of His people. Praise literally drives the clouds away. It takes our minds off the problems and anticipates the victory. Listening to hymns or worship songs goes along with this.

Stress is awful, as I said. And we are not immune to it. But we can overcome it if we keep our eyes on Jesus and take simple methods to move beyond it to victory. In our world, stress seems to be out of control more than ever. Trust me, I know. But we serve a Risen Savior and He will never fail us or forsake us. The greater the stress, the greater the opportunity for the victory. Don’t let stress defeat you. God wants us to live with peace and victory.

P.S. just a reminder to catch a fine film this weekend at the King Theater in Albia. Unbroken, Path to Redemption is showing. It is the true sequel to the terrific story of Olympic athlete and World War 2 hero, Louis Zamperini. Laura Hildebrand wrote the terricific book about Louis’ life and this film continues the story. Don’t miss it, it’s one that will go a long way to making your day and life better.

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