Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Christians Deal With Stress

These are the notes from a lesson I taught at our church.

Think about all the stress producers we have in our lives:
                Finding out a good friend or close relative lied to us
                Flunking a big test in school or failing an evaluation at work
                Seeing our parents or our children fight
                Being asked a question in public that we do not know the answer to
                Doing something we know is wrong
                Having an argument with a sibling or a best friend
                Not having enough money to meet our basic needs
                Moving to a new state
                Losing a job
                Getting a bad haircut
                Getting a traffic ticket
                Being in a car accident
                Having a bad report from our doctor

The list of things that produce stress in our lives goes on and on and on. When our stress level rises it begins to impact our relationships, our level of happiness, and our spiritual walk with God.

Though some people think that stress is always bad and should be avoided at all costs, others think that a certain level of stress in life is important because it motivates us to try harder and accomplish things we may not do otherwise. I suppose we could debate that concept for hours and not come to an agreement. But what we can agree on is that even if we wanted to avoid everything that may cause stress in our lives, we would be unable to. Stress is a reality that we must learn to deal with in life. Fortunately, those of us who are Christians have some tools at our disposal that help us deal with stress.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
          Notice this verse tells us to trust in the Lord and not to rely on our own thinking.
          When we are stressed out, our thinking is often clouded and we may say or do things that we would never do if we were not so stressed.
          In times of stress, we should think about God more often and seek His help.

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your care on Him, because He cares about you.
          One of the greatest advantages of being a Christian is that we can give our stresses to the Lord.
          We give our stress to God through prayer, through fellowship with other Christians, through serving others, and by following the teachings of the Bible.
          Through prayer we talk to the Lord about our struggles.
          As we pray, sometimes we realize the problem is not as big as we thought to begin with.
          As we pray, we begin to calm down, which keeps us from saying or doing things that might make the situation worse.
          As we pray, God often gives us an idea of how to deal with a problem that we might not have thought of before.

Matthew 6:33-34 - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
          These verses tell us to seek the things of God first and determine to do right.
          If we did this first, instead of focusing on our own issues, we would be able to keep ourselves out of a lot of situations that produce stress.
          This verse tells us not to worry about tomorrow.
          Though a certain level of stress might motivate us to try harder and achieve more, if we become obsessed with what “might” happen, we can become overwhelmed by stress very quickly.
          Each day will have its own joys and its own challenges. We must take each day as it comes.
          This is not an excuse not to plan for the future. It is simply a reminder that we can only plan for so much in our lives and then we must leave the rest in God’s hands.

          We all face stress in life.
          When we feel stressed we should think about God.
          As we think about God, we should talk to Him through prayer.
          God will help us know what to do if we focus on Him instead of ourselves.