Stress, How to Cope

by Jerry Senn

Time magazine once began an article on stress by quoting Dr. Robert Elliott, who wrote a book on stress, “Is it Worth Dying For.” The article began, “Rule No. 1 is: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule No. 2 is: It’s all small stuff, and if you can’t fight it and if you can’t flee, then just flow.”

Jesus’ words from the Mount (Matthew 5-7), seem to encourage us, when stressed, to “examine our trust” in God. Our stress builds up at times because we think it all depends on us. But, Jesus challenges our perspective by saying, if we have chosen God as our Master, then live as if he is there for you (Matthew 6:24).

We might want to consider Paul as an example of one who dealt with stress often. “I have worked harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger of rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure [the stress] of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).

Imagining Paul’s stress level should cause us to ask, “How did he cope?” Well, he tells us. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). 

He responds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (v 9b).” The confidence he had in times of stress came in knowing God hears us and cares, and He answers according to his will and wisdom, not in ours!

This truth should help us to “just flow with it,” as Dr Elliott suggests. We can say, “God has this, even when I don’t.” Real faith stands and survives the storms of life for us as well.

(Some thoughts lifted from, “Righteousness Inside Out,” by Mike Cope.)