Do Christians have stress? You bet! Christians may have Jesus as Lord and Savior and walk with God, but they still have stress. So please read on as we explore Christians and coping with stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is our body’s response to pressure. There are many different situations or life events that can cause stress. It is often triggered when we experience something new, something unexpected, threatens our sense of self, or feel we have little control over a situation. We all experience stress on some level and deal with stress differently.
How do we deal or cope with stress?
Not to be trite, but with prayer. As Christians, we must go to our life manual
(the Scriptures) for the answers to the issues of life.
Phil 4:6 reads:
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Be careful or anxious for nothing.
An attitude of joy and gentleness, combined with a constant consciousness of Christ’s return, should diffuse any worry or stress. Christians should not abandon life’s responsibilities to avoid worrying or stressing about them. However, the focus is on Christians’ attitudes in daily life as we face opposition and hardship. (See Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41.) Christians are to be responsible for the needs of themselves and their families and also care about the needs and concerns of others, but we are not to worry, fret, or have excessive concerns.
In Matt 6:25-34, Jesus said not to worry about our lives, such as what we eat or drink, our bodies, adding time to our lives, or what will happen tomorrow. Despite what is happening around us, we do not need to worry or stress about anything because God holds us securely.
Worrying is a serious state to find oneself because it is a subtle form of distrust in God. When we worry, we are saying that we do not trust that God will provide, and we doubt that He cares or that he can handle our situation. It leads to a helpless and hopeless feeling that causes us to be paralyzed. Nevertheless, the Scripture offers prayer as a remedy to worry and stress.
Prayer contends with worry by allowing us catharsis (ca THAR sis). We can literally offload our stress onto God. Paul said to take all the energy used in worrying and put it into prayer. This action includes praying about everything. No request is too small, complicated, or inconsequential to God. Paul encouraged the believers to pray “in everything” — good times and bad — giving petitions and thanksgivings to God. It can appear to be impossible not to worry about anything, but Paul explained that this could happen if Christians genuinely give their worries to God. Worry and prayer cannot coexist.
Therefore, the fact of the matter is that we are too blessed to be stressed, so let us pray!
The word translated as prayer is a general term meaning worshipful conversation with God, while petition denotes prayer with a feeling of need. These two words frequently appear collectively in Paul’s writings.
Thanksgiving centers on the attitude of an individual’s heart when approaching God. Prayer battles worry by generating in us a thankful spirit. Christians should approach God in prayer, being thankful for the opportunity even to approach him and for his tremendous blessings already bestowed upon us and for the certainty that he will answer us. When Christians focus on God’s great love for us and the many prayers He has already answered, we have no reason to worry if He will continue to answer.
“Requests” refers to directly requesting God’s help regarding specific needs. Prayer opposes worry by building trust.
Mind you, Paul was addressing believers when he penned these words. Prayer is an audience with God Himself and is an awe-inspiring privilege available to those who have accepted Christ Jesus Christ as Lord. God does want us to talk to him. Paul reproved the Thessalonians to “pray continually”
(1 Thess. 5:17 NIV).
Communication with God through prayer permits us to know him better and to identify his will and guidance for our lives. What’s more, we can talk to God about anything. Although He already knows our necessities and feelings, our sharing them with him builds our relationship. It allows us to depend on God as we work through decisions or need support and encouragement in the middle of a trial. It permits us to give God and God alone the praise when His answers arrive.
However, we must keep in mind that presenting our needs to him does not guarantee that God will answer every prayer. Remember Jesus prayed that the cup might be taken from him, but it did not happen; Paul requested that the thorn in the flesh be removed, but God chose to work through Paul despite his problem.
We are to communicate our requests to God in prayer, but we must center on God’s will, not ours. When we communicate with God, we are not to command what we want; instead, we discuss what he desires for us with Him. If we align our prayers to his will, he will listen; and we can be confident that if he listens, he will give us a specific answer.
We all have worries, such as on the job, at school, or home. But Paul advises us to turn our worries into prayers. The best way to worry less is to pray more! Whenever we begin to worry, we must stop and pray.
It also helps us to control our thoughts. To continue with our Philippian text,
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Verse 7 informs us that sincere prayer with thanksgiving yields the peace of God. This peace is a peace that no one can understand. It is not otherwise the norm to have such peace in the midst of calamity, sorrow, or pain. We simply cannot generate such peace on our own. True is the Scripture in James 5:16, which reads in part, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
This peace will “keep our heart and minds” because we have accepted “Christ Jesus” as our Lord and Savior. Peace keeps our minds and hearts from being attacked by whatever is happening around us.
What we put into our minds determines our words and actions, including how we cope with stress. The Scripture tells us to put positive thoughts into our minds and “think on these things.”
Therefore, we must replace worry and negative thoughts with positive ones, read
God’s Word and pray, asking God to help us focus our minds on what is good and pure.
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