As part of our mini series considering some thought-life issues, and how to approach them as Christians, Emma helps us consider stress.
I have no doubt that most of us have felt stress at some point in their life, in fact, let’s be honest, probably in the last week. It could be related to work, family, friendships, church, or even - my personal favourite - be totally self-induced! Whatever the cause, it’s there and it’s real and it can consume us.
A lot of people have a lot to say about how to cope with stress. Most of it is very sensible. It’s largely focused on taking control, making more ‘me time’, getting organised, getting healthier and so on. I find the problem with this advice is that not only do I become more focused on myself and less focused on God; I can guarantee that I will fail.
So what does the Bible say? What can help us, as Christians, not to be overwhelmed?
1. We have a purpose.
‘I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him’ Phil 3:8-9a
Despite the many competing priorities that cross our paths in life, we can know with certainty that our primary purpose is to know Christ - to be found in him. This perspective is a wonderful gift that allows us to step back from the stresses that consume us and find our anchor in Christ. We can (and might) lose everything on this earth, but if our eyes are fixed on our Lord, King, and Saviour – we cannot be overwhelmed.
2. We have a glorious future.
‘Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body’ Phil 3: 20-21a
As well as certainty about why we are here we can also have tremendous hope and excitement about where we belong. Heaven is our home, a glorious certainty that we have to look forward to. Our hearts and minds will be totally transformed - tears, pain, and death just won’t exist. This knowledge doesn’t take away the daily pressures and struggles many of us face but it does take away their power over us.
3. We are not alone.
‘The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Phil 4:5b-7
The Lord is at hand. We are not alone. The challenge we have is to face our struggles and anxieties knowing that the creator of the universe has asked us to entrust these to Him. We can do this by coming to him in prayer with thanksgiving. His response is a peace that surpasses all understanding, which guards our hearts and minds. Why? The Lord is at hand.
These truths are not about us. They are wonderful promises made to us by our gracious and merciful heavenly Father. Which means they can’t fail – even when we do. Phew!
This meditation is aimed at helping us as we think about everyday stress and worry. For some (many) of us, stress and worry will become a problem for which we should seek medical help. As Christians we shouldn't shy away from seeking this professional help. If this is a live issue for you, please do, go and see your GP, or chat to your RML leader, evening head, or women's worker.
Picture: Antoine K