Beating Stress

Discover you purpose

Read all devotionals in our ‘Discover you purpose’ devotional series.

Managing stress with the Rev Keith V Garner

We are faced with stressful situations daily and it is easy to become overwhelmed, especially when we face challenges such as serious illness, financial collapse, or when we are providing care for those in our lives who may be ageing or living with disability.

As we face life’s trials, we ask ourselves how we are to address such situations. The larger question can be put in this way: “What do we do when life is a series of heavy trials?”

When I consider my own ministry in relation to suffering, I become aware of how indiscriminate suffering and trials can be. I have seen this on countless occasions:

  • I recall when I led a large church in the UK there were four families where family members had been victims of fatal car accidents. I felt the burden of pain every time I spoke about suffering.
  • I have seen that pain as I have accompanied someone to hear the news that they hoped they wouldn’t receive about their own health.
  • I have many times sat with people who have had to endure disappointment in their personal family situation. It could be the breakdown of a marriage or a young person having failed exams.

Life can become very challenging when we least expect it—and a situation of calm can soon become very stormy. Facing challenging times is a normal part of life and even Jesus isn’t exempt from such experiences.

James 1:2-3 tell us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

James talks about “whenever you face trials”, which leaves little room for uncertainty. We are urged to be joyful not ‘if’ but ‘when’ we face trials because it is in difficult times we are tested and this will make us stronger.

God is always with us, even though it may not feel that way. No matter what life challenges we faced, God remind us that: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV.

In such situations, we remind ourselves that God is generous and he can be entirely depended upon.

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5

Day 1

Psalm 55:16-17

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed?

Bible verse: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” Psalm 55:16-17 NIV.

Thought: There are ways of dealing with stressful situations in life. Most people will tell you to ‘just breathe’ in a stressful moment—after all, everyone needs to breathe. Remember that with every breath, God is there for you and he is listening to your voice.

“When trouble hits us we can react to it in a variety of ways. We can let it knock us out, so that we lose all hope and stamina. We can rebel and refuse to accept the rightness or merit of it. We can fill our lives with feverish activity so that we have no time to think about it. Or we can accept it—without defeat, rebellion or evasion— trusting that God will make clear tomorrow what is so difficult to understand today.”

George Appleton, Journey for a Soul

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you love me and listen to me in times of stress. I pray that in the future I will turn to you for comfort, knowing that you are in control of everything.

Day 2

Nahum 1:7

Does God understand my problems?

Bible verse: “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” Nahum 1:7 NIV.

Thought: In times of need, it’s tempting to think that God doesn’t understand your experience, the pain of stress. Jesus understands what we are going through, he lived and died on earth, facing his own terrible circumstances. God cares for those who trust in him so we need to confidently approach God, who invites us to come to him for help, and forgives us when we stumble.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending Jesus into the world. Thank you that he knows and understands suffering, and that he endured it for me.

Day 3

1 Peter 5:6-7

God cares for you

Bible verse: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV.

Thought: Remember that God is mighty and he cares for you. No problem you face in life is too trivial or too difficult for God to care about. By acknowledging our problem and that we need God’s help, we admit that we need him and trusting him with what’s going on in our lives and believing he is the provider instead of ourselves.

Prayer: Father, when I am feeling overwhelmed and helpless please remind me that I can’t fix all my problems myself—I need your help. Help me to trust in you today.

Day 4

Philippians 4:6-7

God is in control of your situation

Bible verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV.

Thought: It’s hard to stay thankful in times of anxiety. Faith and thanksgiving are closely connected. If you have faith in God, you will be thankful because you know his loving hand is upon you, even though you are feeling anxious. Being thankful will give you a deep sense of peace and joy that God listens and he is in control of your situation.

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain,” C S Lewis.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this life you’ve given me, and for your Son Jesus. All of my worries—I turn them over to you. Provide me with whatever it is I need today.

Day 5

Matthew 11:28

Be anxious for nothing

Bible verse: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28 NIV.

Thought: Jesus welcomes people with problems, who are exhausted from life’s struggles. Take a moment to think about this—what Christ offers you. What does rest mean? One sister of the church told of her experience in difficult times and how she was made aware of the presence of God, even when she was up against the most challenging situations.

She wrote, “I no longer believe that God is only within me, and I do not believe that God is only out there in history. I think we are actually in God at all times.”

I would want to add to that thought by saying that God is ‘with us’ at all times. We need to remember that it’s not what we do that matters to God, it’s our trust in Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, I try and fix everything alone, I don’t turn to you. Help me to discover true peace, and help me to find it in Jesus. I give you my burdens and my exhaustion—I ask for your help, and I rest.

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