A Stress-Relief Plan
by Joshua Travers - April 20, 2022
We live in an age that is full of stress. What can we do to help reduce it?
Gavin (name changed for privacy) could almost feel the dark cloud sitting on his chest.
It had been a rough day to start with, but then someone he greatly respected gave him a strong critique in front of a stranger. That had been two hours ago, and there hadn’t been a single spot of joy in life since.
It wasn’t that Gavin didn’t want to be happy, but for some strange reason he felt as if a thick, dark cloud was hanging over him. In 20 minutes he would have to go in to work, and he just didn’t feel up to it.
Unsure of what to do, Gavin bowed his head and prayed for the cloud to be lifted. He was still upset when he got to work, but the cloud that had seemed so consuming and oppressive only moments ago had disappeared.
When life gives you lemons
We all have times when life becomes tough—when “life gives you lemons,” as the saying goes. Regardless of the degree, we all have experienced discouragement and maybe even depression.
Even if it has not come to the point of outright depression, we definitely still feel the stress of daily life. Especially in a world of COVID-19, Russian invasions, economic downturns, riots and various other calamities, the stress can be considerable. It easily piles up on our shoulders.
So, how do we deal with that stress?
A key to dealing with stress
One of the keys of coping with stress is to not deal with it alone. We need close friends we can talk with about our problems and who can offer us advice and encouragement (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
That said, there are also situations where professional help is needed. If there is severe depression or anxiety, we recommend professional counseling.
And, even with professional counseling, there’s Someone else we need: God.
Christ tells us that if we are overwhelmed with a heavy weight, we can turn to Him and He will lighten our load (Matthew 11:28-30). He doesn’t just want us to live life, but to live an abundant life of joy and peace (John 10:10).
God is willing—eager even—to help us in our afflictions.
But how do we reach out to God?
The tool of prayer
God has graciously given us the tool of prayer so that we can reach out to Him with our problems and stresses.
Prayer helps us develop a relationship with our Father in heaven. It’s a way of knowing that He’s there for us, helping us out when we need Him. It empowers us to endure stressful moments of life without becoming unglued or falling into a victimhood mentality.
David likened difficult trials to walking “through the valley of the shadow of death,” but he also recognized the help and blessing of having God with him in such times: “I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
God cares deeply about each of us.
We can cast our cares upon Him with confidence that He will help us with them (1 Peter 5:7). This type of relationship and comfort comes from doing what the apostle Paul says: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This isn’t to say that we are to be praying 24/7, but that we are to be consistent and persistent in prayer—always ready to pray.
We should be praying to God throughout the day, whether it’s to ask for His help in difficult times or to praise His glorious name as we see the many blessings that He gives us. In those prayers, we can lay hold of His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
When you feel stressed
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, having a bad day or beginning to feel depressed, try falling to your knees and going to your merciful, magnificent Creator. He knows what you’re going through, and He’s eager to help: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Prayer is one of the tools that you can use to grow your relationship with God. When you are close to Him, He will help you manage all the stress in your life.