Overcoming the Stress Disease
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" -Matthew 6:27
We have a problem with stress in our culture. Coupled by the fact that we work a lot and have many distractions, we juggle all our plates on sticks hoping to make something of ourselves, overcome our problems, and try to make it look easy.
But is it really easy?
According to the American Institute of Stress, Time Magazine's June 6, 1983 cover story was called "The Epidemic of the Eighties" and cited stress as our leading health problem. Since then, it has only gotten worse. In 1996, Prevention magazine asked respondents if they had "great stress." Seventy-five percent said they did, while just 55% of those queried in the the 1983 Time Magazine article said they did. Now, 80 to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems.* Stress also has a detrimental effect on work and productivity, too. According to the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), job related stress in the United States costs industries around $200 to $300 billion.
How are we to look at stress as Christians? Is stress something we should have? I can't imagine Jesus having any stress. Sure, he had righteous anger for the selling at the temple. (Matthew 21:12-13) And, he mourned for his friends. (John 11:35) But he wasn't stressed out. His father is God, for crying out loud! If your dad is God, I don't imagine you'd get upset about very much. If there's a problem, He'll take care of it or empower you to. But, aren't we all His children?
Some days I do a better job than others believing that the ultimate outcome is up to God. We can do and say the right things, but when it comes down to it, we have no control. Even still, what we are responsible for is our own decisions and responses to situations. We need to do the right things anyway. It is likely God will use us in every circumstance to bless others when we do. But we need to realize it's not about us - it's about Him. Even if we did all the wrong things He would still love us.
Are you able to let go of outcomes to God and let go of stress? The thing we think about the most becomes an idol in our lives. Are we thinking about the love and peace of God, or are we thinking about something else? There is nothing He can't handle - let Him have it today. There is no burden, stressor or sin that He can't overcome.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
Related resource: Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, by Max Lucado