One of the most powerful things I ever learned in undergrad came from a most unexpected class. I was a senior and had somehow overlooked a basic psychology class- can’t even remember the name of the class. Most of the time I was bored, but there was one day I will never forget- we talked about stress.
Let’s start with some definitions of stress.
- Pressure or tension exerted on a material object,
- the body’s reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response.
- your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences.
- Give particular emphasis or importance to
When talking about stress, for the first time, it hit me. Stress is how we respond. We can only be stressed when we choose to be. And like the definitions above, it is our response and can be good or bad.
In other words, when we say “I am really stressed out,” that is a choice we are making. We see a situation or series of events and our response (our choice of response) is stress.
This empowered me, made me realize- I need to take more responsibility for controlling my reactions to situations. Even those that we may think are “supposed” to issue a stress response- like driving in bad traffic, or high demands from a boss at work.
We still have a choice. We can take situations that would normally cause people to unravel- and through the strength of Christ in our life and submission to His Will, we can weather storms without resorting to the “typical” reactions.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(I was used to this saying, in all your ways acknowledge him- seeing submit there changes this passage for me)
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I chose the above passages because changing our responses to situations requires submission to God- a willingness to trust Him even when we can’t see the outcome of a situation or hardship.
We are called to daily submit to Him, trusting in His goodness and love, His strength and justice, His provision.
I pray that today you would see stress from a different light- not something that happens to you- but something you control, and through self-discipline and willingness to trust in the providence of God- we would find peace in even the most harrowing storm.