What’s stressing you out right now?
God’s Word offers help. “Give me relief from my distress,” David prays (Psalm 4:4). Then he writes out a prescription for how that happens, and shares it with us.
There is good stress and there is bad stress. Sports psychologists Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz write chapters about it in their classic book, The Power of Full Engagement. God knows this, too.
We thoughtfully and purposefully stress ourselves exercising at Camp Gladiator, taking a rigorous hike, or studying intensely for a test. We do this to train, get stronger, and build resilience. God designed us this way. Parents don’t make life easy for their kiddos, but allow some managed stress in order to develop them and teach them.
So, not all stress is a sin. “Tremble and do not sin,” (Psalm 4:4). When your knees are shaking with stress, don’t get too stressed about your stress. It’s not automatically wrong. It might just be your body’s response to a stressful environment. God designed you that way.
Notice it. Appreciate it. Manage it.
Stress that serves no purpose other than to stress you out is not good stress. Don’t let that happen. But stress that is servant, not master, is good stress. Stress that pushes you to new places, gets your attention to address flaws, stretches your self-imposed thresholds. This is good stress. It serves a good purpose.
The apostle Paul describes his stressful environment, leading a revolution of sorts, and then says, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28). Face your stress, don’t ignore it. Look at it. Talk to it. Understand it. Define it. Know where it is coming from, and what bad places or good places it can take you.
I’ll help you do that the rest of this week.
PRAYER: Dear God, there’s plenty of stress in my life. I want it to serve me not master me. I need to better understand its purpose, to help me grow closer to you. Teach me the difference between good and bad stress. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 for Paul’s long list of his stressful environment. Is he complaining? boasting? What’s his purpose for sharing this (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).