A Christmas Wish: From Stressed to Blessed (2)
// Kenneth W. Hagin
Stress is something we have to deal with continually. Actually, this time of year there seems to be more stress on people. But God wants to help us with our stress!
Psalm 40:4 says, "Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust" (NKJV). You could also read this verse, "Stressed is that man who does not make the Lord his trust." Our Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him. He does not want us to live stressed out! So let's look at a few things that can cause stress in our lives and consider some ways to handle them.
One of the biggest causes of stress for us is change. Most people don't like change, because it means dealing with the unexpected.
One time when my dad was pastoring a church, he made a change that didn't amount to much. But on Monday morning, five or six people showed up at the parsonage to tell him, "We just don't like the way you're doing things." People don't like change!
Change happens in all of our lives, though. And we can deal with it if we have Christ—our Anchor—as the unchanging center of our lives. Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (NKJV). Malachi 3:6 says, "I am the Lord, I do not change" (NKJV). Jesus never changes, and with Him as our center, we'll be all right. We won't be stressed out at all!
Conflict can also bring stress on us. Confrontations are inevitable. They will happen to each of us sooner or later. But we can still remain at peace!
Jesus said in John 14:27, " 'Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' " (NKJV). We need to realize that Christ is our peace! We may have conflict all around us, but if we learn to let the peace of God dwell in our hearts, we do not have to be uneasy.
Being criticized is another big cause of stress. When this happens, we can become defensive and start arguing, or we can realize that there's no point in letting it bother us. Why? Because God has already told us that if we will look intently into His Word, it will give us freedom and we'll be blessed (James 1:25).
People criticize me all the time. Really, some of the things they say are horrible. "Doesn't that bother you?" you may ask. "That would upset me."
I don't even pay attention to it. I choose to live in the blessings of God, knowing that I don't answer to them but to my Heavenly Father.
It's not wrong to be concerned. But it is wrong when those concerns crush us and cause us stress.
Mahalia Jackson, a great Gospel singer, said, "God can make you anything you want to be, but you have to put everything in His hands." We have to do as First Peter 5:7 tells us and "cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us." Look at what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 11:
MATTHEW 11:28–29 (NIV)
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
There's no use in being upset or having anxiety. Cast your care on the Lord and let Him carry it. You may say, "That's a simplistic way of looking at it." That's what the Bible says! And if we want to get out of stress, we've got to do what it says.
Letting your conscience bring past mistakes to your remembrance can be a real problem when it comes to stress. Around the holidays especially, some of our family members, or others, may try to remind us of things we don't want to remember. That's when we need to remind ourselves that Christ has forgiven us.
Certainly, if we have unresolved guilt we need to ask God for forgiveness. But we don't have to feel guilty about anything we've already asked Him to forgive us for.
First Corinthians 4:4 (NIV) says, "It is the Lord who judges me." People may try to judge us, but if we're walking with God, we shouldn't let anyone put a guilt trip on us and cause us stress.
We are who God made us, and we do ourselves a disservice when we compare ourselves with others. That only brings stress.
You see, if we're not careful we'll begin to compare what we're doing, where we're at, and what we're accomplishing with what other people are doing. Eventually, we'll erode our spirituality to the point where we think we're a nobody. And that's exactly what the devil wants.
But God doesn't look at us that way. He only looks to see if we are where He asked us to be, doing what He asked us to do. If we are, we should just enjoy it! We can accomplish more where He puts us than out somewhere else.
THROW IT ON HIM
Stress is harmful—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But God doesn't want us to live stressed out! Remember what Peter said? "Cast all your cares on Him." To cast means to throw over on.
That's why I don't let anything bother me. I don't carry cares or get stressed out about them. I just throw everything over on Him, and you should too. Refuse to carry stress around. Instead, let the Word work in your life and live in God's peace and blessings.
No More Stress!
Here are five things you can do to move out of stress and into God's blessings.
- Have alone time with God. Make an appointment for just you and Him.
- Review your priorities. Commit to the Lord's priorities for you.
- Commit to seeking the Kingdom of God first, and things second. When you're more interested in God's things than in other things, you'll have less stress.
- Examine your goals. If you don't have any, set some!
- Work on eliminating the causes. Start removing things that cause stress from your life.