Stress—we all face it every day. If you’re like me you’ve probably seen 100 blog posts, listicles, tweets, and other bits of inspiration designed to help you deal with this unwelcome guest in our lives.
Well, here’s one more—but with a distinctly Christian perspective. God’s Word is full of practical advice to guide us through the challenges of daily life and help us stay on top of stress and anxiety, instead of being “under the circumstances”.
So when stress rises up and smacks you right in the face, follow these steps to put some calm back into your day.
(And, yes, I’m writing this as much for me as for anybody else out there.)
1. Relax and breathe
The first thing to do is just sit tight. Be still and shut your eyes if possible. Bring in slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this anywhere from six to 10 times depending on your stress level. This action will immediately begin to calm your nerves.
2. Give the situation to God
Over and over in the Bible God instructs us not to worry, but instead to give all our burdens and cares to Him.
My favorite such verse is Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
1 Peter 5:7 is another great verse to remind us God doesn’t want us to worry and fret: “Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”
And then there’s Matthew 6:34: “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Is it clear yet that God really, really doesn’t want us to worry?
After you’re relaxed and have given the stressful situation over to God—just pray. Thank God for all the times in the past when He’s seen you through sticky situations. Thank Him for always being there with you. After all, He said, “I will never leave you or abandon you” (Heb. 13:5).
Then ask for His help dealing with the current circumstances, and thank him no matter the answer. Pray even if you’re so stressed you can only pour out “whispered prayers” like the Israelites did in their distress (Isaiah 26:16).
Always remember that God is a loving Father with a keen interest in you. “Call on me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor me” (Ps 50:15).
4. Rest and realize God is in control
God has this situation in His hands—along with every other situation in your life. Even though He may not resolve the circumstances in the exact way you think He should, He’s always working on your behalf. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).
And if you still have any doubt about the goodness and graciousness of God’s thoughts towards you, there’s Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
There’s no way to avoid all the trials of life, but God’s promises provide encouragement and guidance as we cross life’s rough spots.
All Bible verses quoted are taken from the Christian Standard Bible.