Anxiety. Stress. Overwhelm. These feelings have become ubiquitous for many modern day men and women. But Jesus never intended us to live such over burdened, distracted, chaotic lives. He said:
- “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
- “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
- “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
God calls us to exchange our panic for peace, our burdens for blessings, our chaos for calm.
Do You Feel Stressed or Blessed?
People under stress often live crisis to crisis, driven by the tyranny of the urgent. They never feel like they have enough time, money, strength, wisdom, energy, or other necessary resources to accomplish everything they need to do.
The stressed feel constantly behind, which is why they tend to burn the candle at both ends. They’re often harried by worry, anxiety, depression, and feelings of regret. Stress can also give rise to panic attacks.
By contrast, living a blessed life means living with vision, intentionality, and a clarity of purpose. It means being completely devoted to God, casting your cares at the foot of the cross, and trusting Him to supply all your needs as you rest on His promises, perfectly at peace.
God’s blessing allows you live a joyous life of overflowing abundance. The blessed learn to balance life’s hardships with the knowledge that God is working through our trials to mold and mature us.
Where can I get me some of that?
The Bible paints a beautiful picture of what being blessed by God looks like. The books of Psalms and Proverbs are full of such descriptions. But Jesus summed it up this way:
The key to stress-free living? Obedience to God.
There is undoubtedly a spiritual correlation between submitting to God and receiving His blessing. But there is also a physiological basis that connects our stress-levels to how faithfully we follow Scripture.
When our bodies are stressed, they release a hormone called cortisol, also known as the fight-or-flight hormone. When we are at peace, our cortisol levels drop.
Science has identified many things that cause a spike in our cortisol levels. These include worry, anxiety, anger, fear, hopelessness, despair, and isolation.
Interestingly, the Bible contains explicit commands against every one of these things.
Things that elevate cortisol (& what the Bible says about them):
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Luke 12:22)
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
“Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
“…put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” (Psalm 130:7)
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” (Psalm 42:5)
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” (Hebrews 10:25)
All the above activities elevate cortisol. But by taking the opposite tack, we can actually lower our cortisol levels. Significantly.
And by now it should come as no surprise that every item on the stress-reducing list is something God has commanded believers to do anyway.
Activities that lower cortisol (along with Biblical endorsements):
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” (Psalm 47:6)
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day.” (Psalm 96:1)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“…serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5)
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
“All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (1 Corinthians 16:20)
“Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.” (1 Thessalonians 5:26)
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
It’s all a matter of perspective.
Trusting God changes us. It changes our heart, renews our mind, and restores our fellowship with Him. It frees us from sin and equips us for service and changes the lens through which we view life.
Still, Jesus warned, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” It’s not a question of “if” but “when.”
While the circumstances in which we find ourselves don’t necessarily change when we come to faith, our perspective certainly does. And so do our tools for dealing with those circumstances. Because God offers us an inexhaustible supply of strength and grace and wisdom for dealing with stress-inducing situations we encounter in life.
- “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:9)
- “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
- “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
When we’re drowning in the ocean, far from shore and sinking fast, Jesus is our lifeboat. As long as we remain in Him, the waves that once threatened to swallow us up and pull us under will now carry us swiftly in the exact direction He wants us to go.
That’s why James tell us to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” (James 1:2-3) Because our new perspective has shown us “that the testing of [our] faith produces endurance.”
So… will you live a stressed life or a blessed life? Thanks to God’s amazing design, you get to choose.