Stress.  We all know that it can kill.  We all tend to stress about various issues.  For some of us, the holidays are super stressful.  There’s even stress to our jobs, our families, our personal lives, our relationships and lack of relationships that can be stressful.  For some folks, the pressure to have children can be a very stressful situation and for other folks, the pressures of raising their children can be equally as stressful or trying. 

What about God?  Does God have stress?  I think the earthly version is so substantially different from the reality of God.  I don’t think there’s a living soul who knows for sure whether God is stressed or not.  I do believe that the Bible gives us a clear indication that we are to give our stresses and burdens to him.  The Bible tells us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

When we stress ourselves out, we don’t see the bigger picture.  For instance, let’s say your financial situation is so bleak you can’t see where things will get better.  God knows the outcome before we do.  If we turn to him, he won’t let us falter.  Oh sure, it will seem like things will never get better.  But how much of that is what we impose upon ourselves?  John 14:27 states 27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ”  When we are so focused on our own stress, we can’t understand what path God wants us to travel. 

A few years ago, I went back to school.  I remember thinking at the start of the semester that I would do well in the Social Media class but I was skeptical about the web design course.  I really thought I wouldn’t do well in it because coding wasn’t something that I was too adept with.  However, I plugged away at it and eventually aced both courses.  That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t stressed but I knew that if I did my best and gave the stress to God, it didn’t matter what the grade was.  All that matter is that I tried and learned that God was in control.  All I had to do was trust him and follow the course that he set in front of me.  As a result, the church’s website was brought up to date, my learning was expanded, and my self-confidence grew.  My faith grew as well.  Because during that same semester, the stresses that I had with friendships that fell apart, and a deeper understanding of things that happened beyond my control, became so much clearer.  It wasn’t about me.  It was about growing and learning in celebration of God.  That doesn’t always make things easier but it sure enriched my life.  I know that giving my stress to God wasn’t a mistake. 

One of my very closest friends is one of my most faithful friends.  Almost 26 years ago, he had a surgery that would stop his epilepsy completely.  They removed over half his brain.  Before they took him to surgery, he heard God tell him clearly that he would never have another seizure once the surgery was completed.  To this day, he has yet to have a seizure.  He also knew that God was a force in his life that he wanted to know more intimately.  His sister brought him to God through her faith and once he saw the good that God bestowed upon her, he wanted the same feeling.  He trusted God.  He still does to this day. 

He’s faced financial and personal hardships just like the rest of us but he knows that God has his back.  No matter what crisis enters his life, he leans on God to take the stress away and it works.  Don’t ask me how but God works in ways we can’t even begin to fathom.  He doesn’t let his disabilities define him.  He lets God’s light shine through him as an example of God’s love.  He’s become an inspiration to many people and he doesn’t allow the negative comments from others to deter him from celebrating his faith.  There are people who say he’s slow but I’d love to see them process things with half a brain.  He shows what true character and the love of God is daily.  Those who worship with him tell him that he inspires them to worship with a closer relationship with God.  He’s learned that stress doesn’t exist with God. 

 As a child, I was brought up to go to church every Sunday.  You didn’t miss for any reason.  As an adult, I’ve learned that going to church is healthy for a lot of reasons but it doesn’t make you a bad Christian if you don’t go.  It helps to have a church family to reinforce those moments when you struggle but sometimes life makes it impossible to get to church.  That’s why I’m grateful for the live streaming opportunities that we are being given.  I’m also grateful that God knows we mess up a lot of things but he still loves us unconditionally. 

While we are all dealing with Stress, let us think about ways to enrich our own lives with Stress management relief.  The obvious is to give your burdens to God.  Okay, so you’ve done that and you’re still worried, now what? 1) Manage yourself.  2) Identify your stress 3) Stress is ongoing, learn to adapt to the various stresses.  Managing yourself and Identifying your stress work hand in hand.  Once you identify your stress, then pay attention to your body and your stress levels.  Only you know what works best for you.  All the gurus in the world can tell you how to cope with stress but they offer tools.  You have to do the research and learn where your interest lie.  If you aren’t willing to do that, then your stress will build.  Stress does change in life.  There isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t have a change in their world.  If we listen to God and in turn listen to our bodies, our stress levels can be managed. 

Sometimes it can seem easier said than done.  But if we give God our stress, then there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish.  It is a known fact that when we don’t stress and just focus on what needs to be done that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.  Sometimes we make our own stress worse.  We worry about the little things.  We think we aren’t good enough or we think that no one will love us but the bottom line is that we aren’t giving ourselves enough credit.  We are just as good as the next person.  Our skill levels may not be the same but as long as we try and we live a good life and treat others the way we want to be treated, then we shouldn’t allow stress to dictate our lives. 

This week, be good to each other.  Help someone lighten their stress.  Learn to listen and walk with God.  And more importantly, find the peace within and let God take your stress to lighten your load.  Peace.

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