Stress (Part 2)
Last week we began a discussion about how to deal with stress that is affecting our lives in a negative way. The first method we discussed was releasing our frustrations. Today we are going to talk about another approach for dealing with stress when it is building up in our daily lives.
A second approach is RESIST becoming bitter.
Bitterness often happens when we are under stress and think we are stuck. We start feeling resentful. We think, “This is unfair — I’m a good person — This shouldn’t be happening to me.”
But the truth is problems happen to everybody — that’s life – we can’t avoid them – so, we need to deal with them. Unfortunately, many people choose unproductive methods for doing that. They will say ” I’m never going to let anyone hurt me again — I’m going to build a wall — I’m going to retreat into myself.”
Let me tell you, that approach never works. The truth is we can’t prevent problems from happening, but we can control how we respond to them. We can decide if we are going to live a life of bitterness or live a life of happiness. Contrary to what a lot of people think, it’s a choice that we can make.
After many years in ministry I have observed that there is no correlation between circumstances and happiness. Many people think, “If I could just get my circumstances lined up the way I want, I would be happy.” “Or if I could get all my problems solved, I would be happy.” “If I could just get married, or have kids, or have a certain career, or whatever, I would be happy.” But that isn’t true. We all know people who have everything in life and are still unhappy. On the other hand, I’ve known people who have gone through terrible circumstances and still maintain a happy and cheerful heart.
Hebrews 12:15 says that bitterness is a devastating force in our lives.
“Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you. It causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.”
Bitterness doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the past. It doesn’t affect the future. All it does is mess up today.
So, what’s the answer? How do we avoid bitterness? The answer is gratitude — it’s being thankful. Studies have shown that gratitude is the healthiest emotion we can possibly have. So, when you are in the crucible, I exhort you to find something to be thankful for. Count your blessings. You can’t be grateful and bitter at the same time. It’s one or the other. When you invite gratitude into the front door, bitterness automatically goes out the back door.
Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you.”
I hear people say, “I wish I knew God’s will”. Well, here’s one expression of it. By the way there are thousands of expressions of God’s will throughout the Scriptures. They are found in what is called the promises of God. In this case God says, “No matter what happens, always be thankful.”
There is an interesting story about Corrie Ten Boom that demonstrates this. She was a Dutch national who was interned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp in World War II. One day she and some of the other prisoners in her barracks decided to thank God for the lice. There was a horrible infestation of lice in the camp.
Lice were into everything — their clothes, their hair, etc. So, you might be wondering why in the world would they be thankful for that? Well, as it turned out the German guards would never go into their barracks because of the lice. That meant they could have as many Bible studies and prayer meetings in their barracks as they wanted, because the would never be discovered. The point of this story is you can always find something to be thankful for – no matter what the circumstances. You just need to have the proper mindset.
OK, that ends our discussion for today. Think about this and determine how you can apply it to your situation.
Next week we will talk about another method for dealing with everyday stress.