How to Let Go of Stress
Do you ever feel like you can’t get away from your stress?
We live in a stress-saturated culture. We justify our stress. Everyone else is stressed out and busy, so why shouldn’t we be?
And life is hectic. It can seem like just when we’ve finished one big task on our to-do list, there’s another one.
Another one. Another one. Another one.
I couldn’t agree more, DJ Khaled. I couldn’t agree more.
It just all piles up until it’s overwhelming.
Should we look different as Christians?
I’m going to lay out some truths for you about stress that come straight from the Word. Hopefully these will dispel any lies the enemy has convinced you of and give you a peace-filled breath of fresh air!
Truth #1: Worry can be replaced by prayer.
The first passage I want to share with you today to ease your stressed-out heart is Philippians 4:6-7. I have it taped up in the middle of the wall in my prayer closet, and it’s a really great reminder on the days when I feel the weight of the world resting on my shoulders.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Don’t worry about anything. What a beautiful exhortation.
Is there something you’re worried about? We are told to pray about it instead.
This is a habit that must be built over time. I know I personally am in the habit of reacting to stressful situations with…well, stress. But I am learning to make prayer my first reaction instead. EXAMPLE: I just pulled up the the airport parking lot and realized my only form of ID is missing?*
*If you’re wondering, this is an actual thing that happened to me recently. And it worked out fine.
Truth #2: We worry because we evaluate our own abilities before God’s.
It’s easy for us to look at the Goliath in front of us, so to speak, and then look down at our pathetic little slingshot and start to panic.
This makes a little less sense when we realize that the God who created Goliath is standing behind us with all of the power in the universe at His command.
When I illustrate this point, I like to think of Gideon. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Gideon, I’ll summarize it for you (It’s in Judges 6-8, if you want to read it for yourself!). If you’re a fan of Veggie Tales and/or the book of Judges, you probably already know all about this dude.
So, my boy Gideon gets called to lead God’s army. He spends some time arguing with God, telling Him how unequipped he is for this task and asking God to prove that He is, indeed, actually calling him to it. It goes on for awhile, but finally Gideon is convinced.
He then gathers about 32,000 men–a sizeable army. It’s probably reassuring to him to have so many men ready to fight.
But God has other plans. Look at Judges 7:2-3:
The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.
The army is too big. God’s argument is that if they win, Israel will take credit for the victory and say it was their own doing.
So He cuts the size of the army down to 33%…probably the most nonsensical downsize in all of history, if you evaluate the situation apart from God.
But He isn’t done. A few verses later He cuts the size again, this time down to just 300 people. They have a severe case of underdogitis now, from a human standpoint.
That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. -Judges 7:9
“I have given it into your hand.” How? How is that even possible, Lord?
Can you imagine the faith it took on Gideon’s part to follow through? 300 men was nothing. If God didn’t show up, they were dead.
I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but…
Well, yes I do. Gideon’s army wins.
Midian: 0, Israel/God: 1
If God can defeat an army of 135,000 with just 300 faithful trumpet-blowers, He can overcome whatever it is that has you stressed out.
A few weeks ago, in the midst of my (in my opinion, very justified) stress, God told me something that I still think about a lot:
“Just watch Me.”
You don’t know if I can make everything okay in the end? Just watch me. You don’t think I can work this for your good? Just watch me. Literally, sit back and watch me do all the heavy lifting. Your involvement in the matter is actually very slight, comparatively.
That was so freeing for my lazy heart. I love sitting back and watching other people do things instead of doing them myself, and this time was no different.
All jokes aside, the situation wasn’t something I had a whole lot of control over. I had to give it to God and trust Him that He would show up, just like Gideon.
In the process, I learned that this is something my spirit naturally wants to do. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as it may seem.
Just relax and let God do His work. It is common to be stressed out instead, but it is unnatural. We were created to rest in His ability.
Just watch Me.
Truth #3: God knows what you need.
Matthew 7:9-11 is one of my favorite passages:
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
How much more!
If we pray for a situation to be resolved, He isn’t going to give us the opposite as some practical joke. We can have faith that if we pray for God to move, He will move and it will be beautiful. He really does have our best interests at heart.
Another passage along these lines is Matthew 6:30-33:
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God even clothes grass. I have yet to read in the Bible that He loves grass, yet He takes care to clothe it.
Will He not much more take care of you, His beloved?
People who don’t have God in their lives worry about tomorrow because they believe they are in charge of their lives. What a stressful place to be!
You and I are not in control of our lives. This may seem like a harsh truth at first, but the One who is in control knows what you need and wants to give it to you.
Truth #4: Our anxiety does not accomplish anything.
I’ll keep this one short because I feel it speaks for itself.
Matthew 6:27 says this:
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Of course, sometimes this can be frustrating. My power-hungry heart wants to be able to accomplish what it wants just by worrying. But the truth is, it can’t.
We actually can’t do anything apart from God’s power, but I believe that is a topic for a different day. So I’ll just tell you that only God can accomplish the thing you are worried about and leave it at that.
Take a moment to relax, dear reader.
The King of the universe is in charge.
You don’t have to be.
Tomorrow will worry about itself.
Until next time,