One of the epidemics in our society is stress, and unfortunately none of us can endure very much of it without negative consequences. The reason for this is because God designed us to function in an atmosphere of peace. And it is the only place where we can live happily and successfully.
My Personal Battle with Stress
When I look back on the first thirty-three years of my life, I can’t believe I survived the stress I was under at times. I had physical stress, marital stress, financial stress, work stress and other types of stress as well. It negatively affected my health, personality, thinking, marriage and every relationship in my life.
A turning point came one day when I was reading the Bible and I scoffed at a verse. I had never done that before. Here is the text I was reading:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11∶28-30 NKJV
I was probably around thirty-three years old at the time. And the reason I scoffed is because I was a young pastor with a growing, two-thousand member church, a young family, and a small salary on top of other stressors in my life. I was thankful the Lord was using me to help people and that our church was growing – but at the same time I was being consumed by the stress.
As a young boy growing up I never had measles, mumps, chicken pox, a cavity or any health issue. But as soon as I came into the ministry my body fell apart because of the stress. I had constant health issues, but because of the demands of the church, I couldn’t stop.
How God Healed Me
One morning I read that passage about the Lord’s promise to give us rest, and I was particularly annoyed at the verse stating that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. As soon as I read that verse I said in my heart to the Lord, “Your yoke is hard and your burden is about to kill me.” Even though I knew it was in direct contradiction to what Jesus said – I meant it. At that point I truly didn’t know if I could keep going much longer with the stress I was under.
As soon as I said those words to the Lord in my heart He replied with these words I will never forget; “The burden you are carrying isn’t Mine”. I knew it was the Lord speaking to Me but I was shocked. Up until that point I thought I was sacrificially serving Jesus by pastoring and doing all I was doing. But at that moment I realized that the stress I was under wasn’t caused by Jesus. It was self-inflicted and only I could stop it.
Here is one of the passages of Scripture the Lord used to heal me and to lead me to a life of peace: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,…” – Isaiah 9∶6-7a NKJV
That text in Isaiah chapter nine is a Messianic prophecy foretelling the birth and reign of Jesus. In it we are told the government will rest upon His shoulder and that of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.
Truths About Stress
Here is a simple truth that changed my life and ended the stress that was consuming me: The more Jesus rules our lives, the more we live in His peace. The more we rule our own lives, the more stress we experience. Even though I was a believer and a pastor there were many areas of my life that I didn’t stop and pray about and submit to the Lord. As a result I was self-navigating and paying a high price for it.
Here is a truth I learned in the process of being corrected and healed: God doesn’t bless good ideas – He blesses His ideas. When we slow down and seek the Lord before making decisions He directs us and then blesses us with His peace. When His government in our lives increases – His peace increases – and everything changes!
I encourage you to examine your own life regarding this issue. God loves you and desires to bless you, but His blessing resides under His wing!