How do you manage your stressful days?
Mine eventually find their way into a tubful of water with praise music playing loud enough to overcome the blasting whirlpool jets. I usually stay there until my fingertips and toes look like they belong to Yoda. That seems to work pretty well with the ordinary stresses of life. However, there are those stressful days that tend to string themselves together to form an entire season of stress.
Has Satan launched an all-out frontal assault on your peace that’s lasted more than a few days? Has he allowed events from your past to come back to haunt you? Do you feel crushed with the weight of unexpected and unwanted responsibility? Are you still grieving the loss of a loved one only to see another become seriously ill? Does the father of lies have you worn down just enough to cause you to become overly sensitive? On top of all of that, maybe you have work or business-related stresses that can’t seem to be resolved as quickly as you would like. In other words, life’s feet have flown out from under you. If you’ve never had a season like that, part of me hopes you never do. But, another part of me longs for you to feel the wonder of God’s comfort wrap around you in those moments. The Holy Spirit is indeed a sweet, sweet spirit that ministers to us when our lives go topsy-turvy.
So far, for the Jacksons, 2018 has been the best of times and the worst of times. The worst of times because all of those stresses I mentioned have reared their ugly heads. But, it’s been the best of times because God has used some amazing people to show me how simple it is to love others. Family and friends have given their precious time, their listening ears, and their encouraging words – simple acts of profound kindness. Though I try, I can never thank God or them quite enough.
If you find yourself a little stressed these days, please consider these 6 steps toward more peaceful days. My prayer is that you learn to see the stresses in your life as a fast track to the loving lap of God.
S.T.R.E.S.S. Relief 101
S – Surrender your will
Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has enjoyed watching us selfishly choose to follow our own desires. Because of His overwhelming love for us, God sent Jesus to demonstrate a better way. By consistently choosing to follow His path, we prove to ourselves that His way always works out better than ours. Following Him then becomes our greatest desire.
“Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it.’” (Mark 8:34-35, CSB)
T – Trust God
It’s much easier to surrender to Someone who continually proves Himself trustworthy. God’s faithfulness in our baby steps encourages us to take giant leaps whenever long seasons of stress threaten our peace. As things heat up, we can count on Him to walk right next to us, teaching and refining us every step of the way. It’s never fun, but it’s always good!
“I [God] will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:2-3a, CSB)
R – Read God’s Word
Jesus called the Holy Spirit “The Comforter”. He knew we would see stressful days, but the Spirit would give us power to endure any hardship. The words the Spirit inspired inspire us to put on the full armor of God and take our stand against all the stresses of life. With God’s word nestled deeply in our hearts, we can flash our trusty sword at Satan anytime we feel him breathing down our necks. Realizing we are capably equipped, he will flee.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CSB)
E – Experience God’s peace
Nothing but the presence of God and the power of prayer can bring peace to our stressful seasons. Through prayer we enter God’s presence, surrender our will for His, confess our failures, express thanks for the trust He’s inspired, and ask for help. There is no better conversation!
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, CSB)
S – Sing praises
Every command of God is for our benefit. When He instructed us to sing and make melody in our hearts, He knew the calming effect it would have on our hearts. Music calmed Saul’s tormented soul and became David’s greatest therapy. King Jehoshaphat believed in it so much that he put singers on the front line before advancing his troops. Music that praises God is a powerful weapon that dispenses some very good medicine.
“After they had severely flogged them [Paul and Silas], they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to guard them carefully. Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:23-25, CSB)
S – Share what God has done
This is the whole reason I write – to declare the praises of the God who’s brought me out of so many messes, so that others will find a way out of theirs. Recapping what God has done will increase the level of trust you’ve already placed in Him. On the night before Jesus was betrayed, he sang the Hallel psalms (113-115) as part of the Passover ritual. So, from His own lips that night came these words, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory!” Oh, that we never let anything we do be about us! May it always be all about our great God!
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” (Psalm 40:1-5, CSB)