Another Black Friday has come and gone! It emphasizes the chaos of the Christmas season. It’s the most stressful time of the year. We worry about presents, pleasing people, finances, travel and the list goes on! Let’s look at a strategy for dealing with seasonal stress. Paul gives us three very simple and profound statements on how to manage stress in your life.
This verse, perfect for this time of year and every day after!
“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
- Worry Less
“Do not be anxious about anything.”
Worry is a kill joy and source of stress. We tend to expect the worst in life. Smithsonian magazine calls this the “Age of Anxiety.” There are macro worries that everybody on the planet worries about, they are personal and affect us every day.
Worry is assuming responsibility that God never intended for me to have. It’s playing God, trying to control the uncontrollable. Dr. Walter Cavert has done studies on your worries. He has discovered that:
- 40% of our worries never happen
- 30% of our worries concern the past
- 12% of our worries are needless worries about your health
- 10% of our worries are insignificant or petty concerns
- 8% of our worries are really legitimate concerns
Worry is worthless. It cannot change the past or control the future. It only messes you up right now. It is an incredible waste of energy. It is stewing without doing. It is a waste of creativity. When we worry about things, they get bigger and bigger. We are very creative about worry.
The Bible says, “Do not worry about anything.” Probably this is the hardest command to obey.
Some people are born worriers; they have the ability to find a problem in every solution. They look at the negative, the bad. Worry is not natural. Jesus said, in Matthew 6:6. It is something you learn; you have to practice to get good at it. If it is learned it can also be unlearned.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.”
Insight: In order to relieve stress live one day at a time.
This is what Jesus and Paul was saying. When Paul wrote Philippians he was in prison waiting to be executed by Nero. The second way to reduce stress:
- Pray About Everything
Whenever God tells you to eliminate something He always has something superior. He always replaces a negative with a positive.
“In everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Paul is saying, don’t panic — pray. If you stopped worrying, realize how much free time you’d have. It would create a great vacuum, a void in your life to stop worrying. Pray during that time. If those people who say “I don’t have time to pray” would spend their time praying instead of worrying, they’d have a whole lot less to worry about.
“In everything…” Some people think that God is only interested in you praying about “religious” matters. God is interested in everything in your life.
“PETITION” is a specific, detailed request. Get specific with God. Tell Him exactly what you want and what you need. Most people pray too vague, too general. “God, bless my life.” What is a blessing? Sometimes blessings are problems. Don’t pray general, vague prayers but be specific. “God, I’m under stress. I’m tense, I’m nervous.” Be specific about it.
Another translation reads: “When you pray tell God every detail of your needs.” (Phillips) If it’s big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about.
I Peter 5:7: “Unload all your worries on Him since He is looking after you!” Take our problems to the Lord, pray about everything instead of worrying. Unload them! Pray is a tremendous safety valve release of pressure.
A life insurance company did a study. They learned that people who attend church once a week, they live on the average, 5.7 years longer than the general public. Why? Perhaps, people who attend church every week are more likely to pray than worry. Worry destroys your system.
God says unload all your worries on Him. The God who made every thumbprint in the world different and the God who made every snowflake in the world different and the God who made every voice print in the world different is a big enough God to handle all the details in your life. He is a God of details. He can handle anything you give Him.
*GROWTH GROUPS are a great way to share your life and burdens with others. Need prayer? Get in a group. People in your Growth Group will pray for you. On a Sunday morning, use your Connection Card put your prayer requests and the Prayer Group will pray for you.
Insight: There is no problem that is too big for God’s power or too small for God’s concern.
- Thank God For All Things “… in everything … with thanksgiving …”
The attitude of gratitude. The healthiest human emotion is the attitude of gratitude, having a grateful heart, being thankful. It actually increases your immunities. It is a physical benefit to express the attitude of gratitude. Ungrateful people also tend to be unhappy people. Nothing every satisfies them, it’s never good enough. They are “when… and then” people — “when such and such happens then I’ll be happy“.
If you’re depressed, make a list of fifty things you can be grateful for. When you’re grateful, it gets the focus off your problems and gets the focus on the benefits in your life. We have so much that we take for granted.
Develop the attitude of gratitude and watch the stress level in your life go down. It gets your eyes off the problem and onto the many things we do have to be grateful for.
I Thes. 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” One part of God’s will for your life is “in all things give thanks.”
Insight: There is always something to be grateful for.
In the next post we examine one more way to reduce stress and the result of living this way.