Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Stress vs. Trials


Do you get "stressed out". Do you have a lot of "stress" in you life? Before you answer, let’s take a look at stress from a Biblical slant.

I know what you hear or read all the time about stress and how bad it is for your health, your high blood pressure or your heart. There's even an actual organization called The American Institute of Stress!

Time Magazine, in their June 6, 1983 cover story called stress "The Epidemic of the Eighties", calling it our leading health problem. Surveys show that adult Americans perceive they are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.

I won't go into all the bodily changes that take place under stress, but they include the release of powerful hormones and neuro-transmitters. These bodily changes are actually good if, say, a bear is chasing you. It's sometimes called the fight or flight mechanism, and it’s very useful in such cases. But when we have such things as fear, or worry, the same hormones and neuro-transmitters jump into play, and if we sustain those emotions for very long they can destroy our health, which can of course affect other parts of our lives.

So what do we do about stress?

God has ordained trials as a means of growing us, sanctifying us, teaching us, conforming us to His image. That’s why James wrote, "Count it all joy, brethren, when you encounter various trials." We will never escape having trials in this life.

But the question is, How do we handle the trials? There are many answers, but we can illustrate them in general like this:

Picture a fork in a road, one road going one way, the other going another way.
One road we’ll call the Biblical Spiritual Road. The other we’ll call the Unbiblical Unspiritual Road. Now when we encounter pressures or trials, we will tend to handle them by taking one or the other of those two roads. We will handle that trial in Biblical Spiritual ways, or we will handle them in Unbiblical Unspiritual ways.

So let's attempt a biblical definition of STRESS… here it is:

"Stress is the result of an unbiblical unspiritual response to pressure or trials."

God hasn’t made us to "stress out" for escaping trials. He has given us the biblical spiritual road for trials. He has given us precious instruction in handling those trials that come our way.

I can only scratch the surface in this brief post, but let’s just look at one example, to show the difference in the two choices at that fork in the road.

One of the most precious is Philippians 4:6: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God".

Let’s break it down just a little. A trial comes along and we have two roads to choose from. One says. "Be anxious"… worry, fret, stew, get uptight, try to figure it out, try to escape it, wring your hands, envision the horror of it all, get mad at somebody, get mad at God, and so forth.

The other road says, "Don’t be anxious" ... but pray, supplicate (that is, ask God's help), don’t worry, don’t fret, don’t stew, don’t get uptight, walk by faith, not by sight, don’t try to escape it, don’t wring your hands, envision the good of it, let it work it’s work in you, don’t get mad at anybody…pray for them…and above all do it with thanksgiving.

Be thankful for the trials, or at least be thankful for the grace to bring you through the trial, be grateful you have a Lord who loves you. Be thankful for eternal life, peace with God, the peace of God, forgiveness of sins, love shed abroad in your heart, the promise of heaven, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the ability to approach God in prayer, the promise to be like Him one day, freedom from the power of sin, the ability to understand the scriptures by his Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the promise of Romans 8:28, etc. You get the idea.

Praise Him in the midst of the trials, and trials won’t become stress. Remember our definition of stress: "Stress is the unbiblical unspiritual response to trials."

We don’t have to experience stress, and we don’t have to resort to the world’s solutions…taking hot baths, chanting mantras, hooking up to bio-feedback machines, and then stressing out all over again.

Seek Jesus… seek Him in the stillness of your heart. As you read your Bible and pray, look for the Biblical Spiritual Road, and take it.

Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.

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