We live in a culture increasingly defined by stress, anxiety, and chaos. How can we flourish as followers of Christ in such a world? Scripture gives us clear ways on how to manage stress and not be managed by it. Jesus gave a perfect example of how to handle stress and live in such a way that is not defined by chaos, but by peace, courage, and confidence.
Stress in Today’s World
Stress. Just the word alone can make that anxious feeling start rising up inside of us. We all know what stress feels like and likely have countless examples of very stress-inducing situations in our own personal lives – many of which may have even occurred over this last year and a half. Amidst the stress and worry that threaten to take over our attention, we can have hope. We can turn our attention to something, Someone, else who is worthy of our every praise.
Jesus can bring us peace, and He will when we let Him in on our worries and stressors – when we cast our cares on the One has the power over every last one of our fears. We do not have to walk into stressful situations and circumstances on our own – we can be equipped to deal with stress in a healthy, God-glorifying way.
What the Bible Says about Dealing with Anxiety and Stress
God’s Word speaks into anxiety and worry in many different passages, and in 1 Peter 5, we are told very explicitly on what we are to do when we are stressed: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Cast our anxiety on HIM. Cast means to get rid of, to let go of, to completely release; that means completely and totally relinquishing something that is stressing us out or worrying us and, in turn, giving that stress to God.
Why should we do that? Because we are human. We have limitations and can only do so much. Many things are going to test those limits, and it’s when our limits are tested that stress begins to infiltrate all areas of our lives. Though we cannot control what happens to us, we each choose to respond to stress in a different way, whether that’s apathy, anger, anxiety – or all of the above.
Beyond our response, we do have another choice, and that is to choose to cast our anxiety on God – before we do anything else. He’s the God of peace, the God of joy, the God of freedom, and He is without limitations. And it’s not just when we get stressed or overwhelmed should we cast our cares on Him – it’s in each moment of each day. Our choice to do this will free us up from added stress and will show humility in the way we are choosing to live.
Biblically Managing Stress
So, how do we manage stress? The steps are found in 1 Peter 5:
- Humility. Choose to recognize that we have limits, and we do not have control – rather, our all-powerful, all-knowing God does not have limits and is in complete and total control. When we realize and live in light of this, it brings us to a place of humility and submission to our good and loving God.
- Watchfulness. Daily and consistent prayer is essential to managing stress, helping us to grow in humility, and allowing us to remain watchful in the midst of stressful situations. We must be aware that our Enemy, the devil, wants nothing more than to use our stressed and overwhelmed feelings to catapult us into a place of doubt in God and our faith, so we must remain watchful and alert at all times.
- Resistance. Today’s culture tells us to go, go, go. You’re only worthy when you’re capable and productive and moving. Yet, the way of Jesus tells of a burden that is light and freeing – and this idea of rest actually becomes a means of resisting the culture in which we find ourselves today. Sabbath becomes a form of resistance from the way of the world and an alignment with the God of peace, of rest, and of courage.
So, we manage stress by aligning ourselves with the God who has designed us to be non-anxious, peaceful beings, made in the image of our Creator. Let’s dare to be different. Let’s dare to manage stress differently – and see how God uses that to change us for the better.