Stress is defined as a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and is also a factor of disease causation. Anything that poses as a danger to your well-being is considered a stress according to those in the medical profession.
Intense levels of stress can be caused by employment difficulties, monetary troubles, personal relationships and merely being too busy. Excessive stress can be detrimental to a person’s physical and spiritual health. So then learning how to deal with stress should be an essential part of human development.
As Christians it is our duty to look to the bible for direction in our lives. The includes dealing with stress. Many of the prophets and patriarchs experienced stressful events that we can study.
These examples of overcoming were written for the benefit of those who seek to follow God. God inspired them to write about their trials and stress. Christ Gives us instruction to, “not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Matt 4: 4) so it is imperative that we consult our bibles before any other source.
Calling Out To God
“And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” (Gen 35: 3)
God answered Jacob in the day of his distress. This means that Jacob called out to God about his troubles in order to be answered. The verse also says that God was with Jacob in the way he went. How can you have the Lord by your side during your time of trouble? Let’s look at David’s experiences.
David, a man after God’s own heart, called upon the Lord in his distress numerous times throughout the scripture.
“Then king David answered and said, Call me Bath’-she-ba. And she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. And the king sware, and said, As the Lord liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress.” (1 Kings 1: 28-29)
King David identified that it is the Lord that brings us out of distress. David constantly cried out to the Lord in stressful moments, as we will see. Look at the following verses:
“In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.” (Ps. 120: 1)
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” (Ps. 18: 6)
Read the following verses carefully:
“The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.” (Ps. 25: 17-18)
Biblical evidence suggests that David knew that only God could bring him out of his distress. We also must understand that God is the only being who possesses the power to bring us out of stress completely. True joy can only be found in God. This is basic understanding we need in order to overcome stress moments that may occur in our lives.
Note that these verses also show a clear connection between sin and distress. Affliction has two causes: 1) sinning against God and 2) chastisement from God. The first cause is obvious but the second is explained by the following verse:
“For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son He receiveth.” (Heb 12:6)
This is also evident through the book of Job.
Note that the action of crying out to God can be a stress reliever. Prayer is our communication with God. Just being able to express your issues with the Lord may be enough to help your problem. It is also helpful to express your problems to brethren who will bring your action back to the word of God. The first step in relieving stress is expression. Expression to God is vital and expression to spiritual peers is useful.
“I called upon the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what man can do unto me? The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Ps. 118: 5-8)
David makes it absolutely clear that our confidence should be in the Lord. Under His protection there is no reason to fear. Stressful situations will always occur, but we must maintain confidence in the Lord. Remember distress comes from sinning or chastisement from God. Chastisement from God is meant to strengthen us. It is important to reflect on your life and actions in prayer to know whether you’re experiencing chastisement from God or experiencing the fruits of your sin.
Others Who Call To God
“Behold, O Lord; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death.” (Lam 1: 20)
In Lamentations, Jeremiah is describing the state of Jerusalem during her punishment and his distress to see this. In his distress he called out to the Lord. Jeremiah knew that only God could save Jerusalem from her distress.
“And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Je-hosh’-a-phat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Je-hosh’-a-phat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.” (2 Chron. 18: 31)
When Je-hosh’-a-phat, was encompassed by armies, he called out to God, not any man.
Ignoring God in Your Distress
Read the following verses carefully
“For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the Lord, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not. And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and all of Israel.” (2 Chron. 28: 21-23)
Instead of calling out to God in his stress, Ahaz tried to reach out to other gods and sinned against the Lord. It is important to remember that afflictions and distress can intensify from sinning.
“For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz, king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.” (2 Chron 28: 19)
King Ahaz’s actions caused the Lord to lower Judah and “were the RUIN of him, and of all Israel.” (23) These verses make it clear that keeping your mind on God and His laws is of upmost importance no matter what distress is taking place. Provoking the Lord to anger will bring more distress upon you.
Does God Really Help with Stress?
At this point it is necessary to raise this question. Will God really help you through stressful events? Do not be mislead by unbelievers and those who claim prayers are not answered. Search your bible for the evidence you need to support your faith.
“The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me; In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple and my cry did enter his ears.” (2 Sam 22: 6-7)
Here is another example of David. Instead of battling his stress alone, first and foremost he calls out to God.
“He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.” (2 Sam 22: 18)
Find the time to read this whole chapter. We can read that the Lord responded to David’s cry with great results. Likewise, God can and will do miraculous things for those who follow Him.
“I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them. And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise yea, they are fallen under my feet.” (2 Sam 22: 38-39)
Although his enemies were too strong for him, (verse 18) David was able to overcome his distresses and even destroy them with God’s help. How can we receive such a response from the Lord? What was the reason why God responded to David?
“The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands he hath recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgements were before me and as far as his statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also upright before Him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.” (2 Sam 22: 21-24)
Recompensed is defined as to repay, give compensation, remunerate, reward as for service or aid. In this case, David was recompensed for keeping the laws of God. Those who keep the Lord’s statutes are compensated for doing so, especially in times of distress.
“He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me because he delighted in me.” (2 Sam 22: 20)
God Will Save You From Distress
After reading what your bible has to say about stress, it should be obvious how we must deal with stress. Let’s summarize the critical points in this process:
1. Call out to God first. Do this before turning to friends and family.
2. Study David’s example and read the Psalms.
3. Reevaluate your life to make sure you’re keeping God’s law.
4. Make the necessary changes to follow God’s law.
5. Lastly, give praise to God first for seeing you through your time of need.
If you follow these steps, you can be confident that God will help you. It must be pointed out that all of this has to be done in sincerity. You must maintain honest communication with God and intend to do what He wants you to do despite your distress.
Let’s look at one last example:
Elijah the prophet became greatly distressed when his life was threatened and he believed he was the only worshipper of God left. (1 Kings 19:1-4) Elijah wanted to die. An angel fed Elijah before a journey God wanted him to make (1 Kings 19:5-8) . Elijah had to separate himself from the world and his worries to focus on God. The following is what happened in his solitude:
“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19: 9-10 KJV)
Elijah spoke openly and honestly with God. He did not hide his feelings about what he was experiencing. Elijah restated his feelings in verse 14. Notice how God responds:
“And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king of Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmebolah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it chall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19: 15-18)
God brings Elijah out of distress and informs him that he his not alone in serving God. God will do the same for us if we follow the examples and lessons from the bible. We have to deal with our stress appropriately. Avoid drugs, alcohol, and other false stress relievers in your time of need. Focus on God!!!
We hope that is helpful in your efforts to follow God’s law.