My husband says I could write an entire devotional on stress alone. I don’t enjoy the fact that he’s probably right… but he’s probably right.
Stress is my enemy. Stress is also one of my closest companions. It understands me in an unparalleled way and knows exactly what to do to make its presence known. Even when I’m in a fairly steady place, when the littler things shouldn’t phase me, I let them every. single. time. I take it out on those around me, and I take it out on myself.
Stress might not get to you, but I’d venture to say that something does. Be it fear, or self-doubt, or anxiety, or depression, or a mixture of so many. It burrows its way into your heart, knows all the buttons to push, and knows exactly how to push them.
And you might try to fight it, or you might accept it as a part of who you are. I don’t know if there is a way for me to truly convince myself to not let stress be something I have or feel – I don’t know if I’m made that way. What I do know is, I am in control of how I react to it. How I let the emotions it causes take hold of me, and the course of action that follows.
Jesus was tasked with a mission far greater than the ones I face: He had to die, so that we all might live. He had to convince people, with our human nature being to doubt and second guess, that he was pure and good and faultless. He had to teach so many in so short of a time. He had to create a band of followers, willing to step into blind faith and risk what life they had. And he had to do all of this, knowing that each and every one of us would go against what we know to be good at some point in time. Knowing that we’d make mistakes and screw up, he still had to fight for our hearts.
Give those tasks to any one of us, and I’d guarantee we’d feel allll the negativity. Doubt, depression, anxiety, worry, stress beyond belief. So in aiming to be Christ-like? It’s not in the avoidance of the situations that trigger these things, it’s in the perseverance to wrestle through them and the manner in which we reply to them. In the perspective we take because of them.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:25, 27
That might deliberately say not to worry, but the enemy is real and the enemy is active. And what plagues us will continue to plague us. I think, in a different way, that verse is also admitting that there will be things in life that cause worry. Plain and simple. But is not life more than that?
My stress pushes me. I accomplish more than I could have without it. So many times, it’s been one of the driving forces reminding me that I need to rely on the Lord. Sometimes, it gives me little choice in the matter.
I’m not saying I handle this well; quite the opposite is more accurate. What I mean to say is that it’s ok to feel. But those feelings, those triggers of negativity? They should always come second to a constant striving to be Christ-like. To trust in your Father with a belief that doesn’t have limits, to relax in his presence, and to recognize that life is more.
If you enjoy reading posts like this, be sure to check out my year-long devotional, Heartbeat!