Life can be jolting.
In the last week, people close to me have suffered the shock of an unexpected death, a cancer diagnosis, a devastating house fire, a child’s serious illness.
Death, divorce, failing health, and tense relationships can cause tremendous strain, as can the more common events of life: marriage, a new baby, sending a child to first grade or to college, a new career, or caring for aging parents.
Sometimes it’s all just—overwhelming.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned a bit about stress management through my own challenges. Sometimes I’ve dealt with stress wisely, and other times not. There will always be the temptation to choose a temporary “feel good” fix. But realistically, we need a lasting way to deal with life’s stresses.
As Christians, we are able to confidently turn to our Creator who cares for us and about us. Often, He has things to say about our situations, but we will only hear Him when we are available to listen. Our challenging circumstances are never so daunting that the Lord can’t walk us through them.
When stress is overshadowing your life, spend quality time drawing close to God in meaningful ways.
Sit in peaceful, intentional quiet.
When was the last time you enjoyed a moment of total, unplugged, peaceful quiet? In our world, quiet is a precious commodity. Our minds are cluttered by the chaos of our days. While it may seem counterproductive to be still when your life feels out of control, investing in some quality quiet time can bring a measure of peace to calm the noise.
Prayer is a quiet, mindful practice that can make a difference in our challenging days. Jesus often went to quiet places to be alone with His Father. Maybe we should do the same.
Meet one-on-one with your Father and ask Him to help you fully consider your difficult situation. Pray to Him as you sort through your feelings and choices. He may lead you to an answer you’ve not yet considered.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying. Mark 1:35
Meditate on Scripture.
We know that every part of Scripture “is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture is filled with stories of people facing difficult situations.
Are you mourning a loss? Discover how David sought God as his Comforter in the Psalms. Are you facing a tough decision that seems more than you can handle? Seek wisdom in the pages of Proverbs. Are you in a stressful situation that seems impossible to navigate? Paul’s epistles offer abundant principles for living. Bring your burdens, fears, and problems to the Lord. Ask Him to guide and direct you through Scripture.
God’s Promises for Your Every Need is a great resource. You can easily find passages relating to various needs, as verses are arranged by topic.
How I love your instruction!
It is my meditation all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are always with me.
Keep a prayer journal.
One way to remember all that God has accomplished in your life is to keep a prayer journal. Even if you’ve never been inclined to journal, you may find this type of record keeping very beneficial.
Whether you choose a beautiful hardbound journal or a simple spiral notebook, begin by listing your family and friends in need of prayer for specific things, and leave enough room to write additions as the weeks go on. Next, list your own needs and requests. As you commit to pray for both your needs and the needs of others, write any answers received next to the request. This running list will become a tangible record of all that God has done and is doing in your life, as well as in the lives of those you care about.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Participate in or simply enjoy inspirational art or music.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to develop a greater appreciation for the beauty of art and music. What I once regarded as a pastime for only those with promising talent, I now see as an enrichment to my life. Walking slowly through an art museum nurtures peace-filled, creative thoughts in a quiet environment—it speaks to my soul. In the same way, music reminds me that, in the midst of my chaos, order and beauty still exist in the world.
In a more hands-on approach, I’ve also begun to experiment with my own creative endeavors. I might watch a free online painting class or construct a mixed media piece following the instructions in a book. God has made a beautiful world and He allows us to use our God-given creativity as an outlet to glorify Him. Try something new and see if awakening your innate creativity inspires beauty and peace.
I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
We will not, this side of heaven, see our world devoid of chaos, confusion, and complex circumstances. But in this life we can learn how to manage our stress by turning to our Creator, the God of all comfort, order, and beauty. In a life filled with challenges, He remains our constant.
Originally from the Deep South, Natalie Hall and her husband along with their three children, served twelve years in the Far North of Alaska with SEND North. They now continue their work with SEND from the much warmer state of Texas. True to her southern roots she loves sweet tea, front porch rocking chairs, and a strong cup of morning coffee. Natalie frequently writes about her many Alaskan experiences and has a passion for sharing with others how they can step out in faith to be a part of God’s plan in the world – whether near or far.