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Stress-busting tips from the Bible

By Dave Williams

God’s Word gives many stress-busting keys.
Here are 10:

1. Laugh. Have you ever been so caught up in a stressful situation that suddenly you started laughing? That’s the mind letting off unhealthy stress. Otherwise you might pop like a balloon. Laughing is one of the cheapest, healthiest things you can do. It’s God’s built-in stress-buster. The Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, KJV). If you’re bogged down, start laughing again.

2. Get alone. We all need time to walk in the woods, lie out in the back yard and look at the stars, go away for a weekend and sleep until noon. We need time away from the kids, from work, even from ministry. Even Jesus found time to be alone and become spiritually refreshed.

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23, NIV).

In my second year as a pastor, everything went wrong. There was a drumbeat of negative comments about me, and I saw myself as defeated. I learned then that people need hobbies. Now when my stress tank fills up I go down and walk on the treadmill. Or I go to the batting cages, put a quarter into the machine and take whacks at the baseballs.

Get alone with God. Take a mini-vacation from your troubles. Cultivate hobbies.

3. Delegate tasks. “Select capable men from all the people … and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21). Moses had thought he had a handle on his responsibilities concerning the Israelites. God used his father-in-law to reveal to him that he needed others’ help. That’s a good example for you and me. Of course, nobody can do your job like you can — or so you think. Experiment with giving tasks away, if you’re in a position to do so. It’s good for you, and allows other people to grow in their responsibilities.

4. Look for God in your situation. “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong … but time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, KJV). Most stress is not from the devil. It’s just life. If you look for the devil in everything, you’ll be stressed out. When you see God’s purpose in everything, you’ll be peaceful.

5. Believe it. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV). Believe what the Word of God says, and most importantly, what the God of the Word promises. Don’t focus on what other people say, or what the devil tries to speak to your heart, or even what your own discouraged reasoning would try to tell you. God says He is good and His mercy endures forever. This world says three strikes and you’re out, but God has mercy to cover all your strikes. Simply believing the Word opens a stress-draining release valve.

6. Commune daily with God in His Word. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). It can’t be overemphasized how important it is to maintain daily contact with the Word. Even if it’s only a few verses read for 10 or 15 minutes, you’ll discover enough truth to fill your day with a positive focus. Get in a quiet place; clear the clutter. There’s nothing more important than talking with God and hearing Him speak to you through His Word.

7. Get ready to advance. “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free” (Psalm 118:5). Stress usually comes before God is about to advance you in some way. The difficulties you feel are like birth pains, and there’s a wonderful new world on the other side.

8. Speak faith words. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NKJV). Don’t call someone to complain. Encourage yourself — and others — with positive affirmations of faith.

9. Know that when Jesus is involved, everything turns out fine. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). On the day He was crucified you’d better believe Jesus experienced all the stress this world could possibly create, but three days later came the payoff. Give Him your stressful situation and let Him be marvelous in it.

10. Get back to work. Jesus’ times alone were always followed by a wholehearted return to His work. After your times alone, return to the fight. If you’re a teacher, get teaching. If you’re a preacher, get preaching. If you’re a Sunday School teacher, get Sunday Schooling. If you’re a fellowship group leader, get fellowshipping. If you’re a singer, get singing.

And start enjoying victory over stress.

Dave Williams is senior pastor of Mount Hope Church (Assemblies of God) in Lansing, Mich.

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