Stress is something that is an obstacle of growth [yes I meant to word it that way] for all of us that walk this earth.
Wikipedia describes stress as such:
Stress is a term that is commonly used today but has become increasingly difficult to define. Stress typically describes a negative concept that can have an impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, but it is unclear what exactly defines stress and whether or not stress is a cause, an effect, or the process connecting the two.
Obviously that doesn’t help. If they can’t even define stress…then how is it even helpful to have Wikipedia? Lesson one for all researchers out there: WIKIPEDIA IS NOT RELIABLE!!
Ok now that we’ve established that, let’s look at an actual definition of the word stress and then see what God says about it.
- The physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain.
Now this is something we can use. As we all walk through life there are many things that can exert a form of pressure or strain on us. Whether that is something physical, or something mental, each person is made painfully aware of their own weakness through these adversities.
Our natural tendency is to react emotionally, blame others or ourselves for the situations that are causing us stress, and/or take out those frustrations in physical ways [anger, excessive gym visits, eating, yelling, being reclusive, resorting to sarcasm more often than not, etc.] rather than focusing on naming the issue at hand.
So let’s look at two passages that deal with trials [yes I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before]:
James 1: 2-8
- 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Let’s break this down by verse for a second. First, “consider it joy” or “consider yourself dealt with in favor” when you face trials. It means God thinks you need a little strengthening for the battles ahead. He noticed that your armor had a little dent in it and wanted to buff it out before sending you into the next battle field. Verse 2 uses the word “whenever” and not “if” when referring to trials. So to be blunt, life is difficult, life has struggles and difficulties. If you don’t have them…then you’re lying to yourself. So put the armor of God on before you get out of bed in the morning.
Perseverance [verse 4] needs to finish its work so that we become mature. I.E. just like a parent disciplines their children and allows them to stay in time-out for their full sentence, so must we endure trials so that we can be made fully mature..and not partially mature. It would be like running the 100 meter dash at a faster pace than any prior world record holder…but then deciding not to cross the finish line. Or in simpler terms “close only works in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
Now verse 5 is my favorite because when we get in stressful situations, without fail the “why me?” question arises. We start looking for someone to answer our questions and solve things for us. Well verse 5 says “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask GOD, who gives GENEROUSLY to ALL without finding fault, and it WILL be given to you.”
Pretty positive stuff there. So Ask God. Nuff said.
Now to the part where we “name” the issue. This next passage comes from Mark Chapter 5:6-13, which refers to a man who was plagued by unclean spirits.
- 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” 9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
In verse 9 it says that Jesus asked the unclean spirit for its name. What was even more interesting was that “Legion” already know who Jesus was. If you remember, demons or fallen angels, had been in the presence of God before, so they knew the name of Jesus and even they proclaim His title. Verse 10 is one of my favorites because right after Jesus finds out the name of the demon, which he probably already knew the enemy trembled and “asked for permission” not to be sent away from the earth…so there there is power in a name. God named everything that He created. He even brought animals to Adam so that they might be named.
That being said, if we can name the “enemy” that we are facing…it’s a lot easier to identify with scripture, how to seek God out to defeat it/send it away.
Side note: we cannot defeat Satan. We cannot defeat sin or the powers of death. We can let Christ do it though!
I’d like to illustrate this as it was illustrated to me.
If you were in a battle and you knew that you could face one of three enemies. You would prepare to face each one according to what you know.
Enemy 1: Sword fighter and is weak against Spear fighters
Enemy 2: Spear fighter and is weak against Archers
Enemy 3: Archer is weak against Sword fighters
Simple enough. You chose your weapon based on what enemy is in front of you. Well it is our human nature to go into battles blindfolded sometimes, or we’re equipped with the wrong weapon. So imagine going on to a battle field blindfolded with a sword. If you’re facing another sword fighter it would be a difficult battle, but you could survive because hey you’re a sword fighter too! There’s a chance that you could be facing an archer and as luck would have it…you can defeat those. But what if you come up against a spear fighter? Long story short…you wouldn’t last long in that battle because you brought the wrong weapon!
Much of the time I find that I remain frustrated with whatever circumstance is bothering me until I can name the root cause of it all. In other words, when I take the blindfold off, or allow someone to guide me in telling me what “enemy” I’m facing, it’s easier to allow God to hand me the correct weapon and shield to deal with the attack.
Anyway, referring back to James 1, we see in verse 5 that it says to ask God for wisdom in dealing with adversities (or anything for that matter). Look to Him for strength and guidance, remembering that He has never lost a battle, never failed, never given up, and never fallen on the battle-field.
He is the undefeated and unparalleled King of all creation. Why not let Him train you how to survive trials and stress, rather than do it on your own? God also provides warriors that are more skilled in battle [mentors and accountability partners] that can help you endure what lies ahead.
[Know God.Know The Power Of His Name.Know The Enemy You Face.Know The Battle Is Already Won]