Stress is defined as mental, emotional, or physical tension. From that perspective, some stress is good. For instance, when a teacher repeats a topic to his students severally, we can say that the teacher “stressed” the point. However, stress is often used to mean the negative kind of tension that results in despair and even physical illness in some cases.
No one is immune to stress and we will all have to deal with it at some point. There are many causes of stress in our environment. It could be financial, relational, spiritual, etc. When faced with a situation that causes tension, you can either respond negatively, or you can respond the way the Bible prescribes.
What Does the Bible Say About Stress?
Jesus taught us that we should not be anxious or worried about anything. As Christians, we should put our trust in God and believe that he will take care of us. In the words of scripture, we should cast our cares upon him for cares for us.
How to Deal With Stress?
The Bible offers a couple of strategies that can help us deal with stress, These include:
- Community support
- Faith in God
Let’s have a look at each of these below.
Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
From the above scripture, it is clear that there are two possible responses to stress – worry and prayer. Apostle Paul recommends that when in a stressful situation, you should turn to prayer instead of being anxious about the situation.
The problem with worry is that it does not yield any solution. Furthermore, it only makes the problem worse because it amplifies it and turns a molehill into a seemingly insurmountable mountain. When you start praying instead of worrying about your problems, they start to diminish in the light of the great God. Eventually, you will have nothing to worry about.
After you have cast your cares upon the Lord in prayer, the next best thing you can do is to meditate. Mediation will help you to stop worrying about your problems and instead focus on the greatness of God. As Psalms 1:2 explains, you meditate by focusing your mind on the word of God. When the enemy plants negative thoughts about your problems, replace the thoughts with thoughts of God’s word. You can do this by taking every thought you get through the Philippians 4:8 filter.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
Meditation is actually easier than you may imagine. If you can worry, you already know how to meditate. Now just replace the thoughts of worry with positive thoughts. And just block any thoughts that do not pass through the filter of Philippians 4:8. Meditate on what His word says about your situation and by so doing, you will have dealt stress a serious blow.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
When you feel overwhelmed, it is a good idea to get help from your fellow brothers and sisters. They say a problem shared is a problem half-solved. One of the best ways of dealing with stressful situations is by talking about them. Someone you talk to might have some insight that might help you to get out of the problems. But even when no solution is given, just talking about the problem helps to upload the burden from your heart which helps to avoid stress.
This is one of the reasons why Christians ought to be part of a fellowship. We meet to worship God together but we also meet to spur one another toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). The warmth of fellowship will help you overcome any stressful thoughts and inspire you with a renewed faith in God that will help you to surmount any obstacle.
Faith in God
Worry makes you lose sight of the greatness of God and instead forces you to focus on the problem. There is no problem that is too bing for God. However, when you start worrying about the problem, it makes it appear too large for God. This is why you need to develop your faith in God. When teaching about worry, Jesus used the analogy of birds and lilies. He taught that the lilies of the valley do not worry about clothing and yet God adorns them in beautiful colors. Similarly, the birds of the air do not worry about where they will find their food, and yet God provides their food. Jesus then posed a rhetorical question:
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Mathew 6:26
- In what ways do you personally experience stress in your life, whether it’s related to finances, relationships, spirituality, or other factors?
- How does the teaching of Jesus in the Bible about not being anxious or worried apply to your own experiences with stress?
- We have looked at four strategies for dealing with stress: prayer, meditation, community support, and faith in God. Which of these strategies have you used to cope with stress, and how effective have they been for you?
- How do you think being part of a supportive community can aid in managing stress and building faith in God?
- How does your faith or belief system influence the way you handle stressful situations?
- How can you apply the principles of focusing on positive thoughts and meditating on God’s word when dealing with stress in your life?
- What are some practical steps you can take to develop and strengthen your faith in God, especially when faced with challenging and stressful circumstances?
- Reflect on the analogy of birds and lilies from Matthew 6:26. How can this perspective on God’s care and provision help you maintain faith and reduce worry in your life?