The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Friend to Friend
Stress is a familiar and faithful companion. It doesn’t matter where life takes us, we will encounter stress. Unless we learn to manage and deal with that stress – God’s way – we will find ourselves trapped, an easy target for the enemy.
I heard the story of a farmer who, as the owner of a large piece of land along the Atlantic seacoast, constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because of terrible storms known to plague the area. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin middle-aged man applied for the job. “Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the desperate farmer hired him.
The slight man worked hard, to the delight of the farmer. One night, the howling wind blew in from offshore, signaling the approach of a monstrous storm. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. “Get up! A storm is coming!” he yelled. The man rolled over in bed and firmly responded, “No sir. I told you. I can sleep when the wind blows.” Furious, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm only to discover that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarps. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in their coops, the doors were barred, and the shutters were tightly secured. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand had meant. He, too, returned to his bed to sleep while the wind blew.
Stress management is a spiritual discipline that begins with diligent preparation in every area of life – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. We must be ready to deal with stress before we have to deal with stress.
Know whose you are. I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. I sang all the right songs, spoke all the right words, and did all the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith, and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It wasn’t until middle school that the authentic life of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God intimately.
During an evening church service, I sat in my usual spot, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. I argued that I knew all about God, and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him but I didn’t know Him. That night we met. While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still have to face and deal with stressful circumstances every day. The difference is that I don’t have to face and deal with those tough situations alone.
God is with me. His power strengthens me, and His love surrounds me, saturating even the most desperate circumstances with hope. Knowing that we belong to God is the very foundation for a life of peace and the first step in dealing with stress. Join me in my next devotion as we examine four more ways to deal with stress.
Father, I praise You for being my Peace in the midst of a stressful day. I can’t always see Your hand at work or even understand or like Your process. But I do know that I can fully trust Your heart of love for me, Lord. When the stress of life tempts me to worry, help me to trust You instead. When it seems like my life is spinning out of control, give me Your strength to stop and remember that You are God and that heaven is not in a panic! Right now, I choose against the tyranny of stress in my life, and I choose to trust You instead. Thank You for Your faithfulness to me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Go back to the time when you first met God and surrendered your life to Him.
What changes has that decision made in your life?
How did you feel when you first realized that you belong to God?
What did you do?
Who did you tell?
Now think about your relationship with God today and compare your circumstances, attitudes and habits with those first days of knowing Him.
Read and memorize Jeremiah 29:11. Celebrate God’s perfect and unique plan for your life. And when stress shows up in your life today, remember whose you are.
More from the Girlfriends
Whew! Just talking about stress wears me out. It’s so daily! At one point in my life, stress literally made me sick. And I know your life is just like mine, friend. But God … don’t you just love those words? But God can give you peace and take away the anxiety of stress-filled circumstances. My book, Escaping the Stress Trap, is my journey from a stress-managed life to a life in which, through God’s power, I am learning to manage stress. Check it out!