As a community (blogging and beyond), we’re a mixed bag of nuts (some of you a little nuttier than others – actually, maybe I’m the nuttiest of them all…I digress)…but, I think there is one thing that we can all agree upon – we all live with some sort of stress. Of course, we all deal with stress in a variety of ways…from stress balls, exercise, eating, sleeping, massages, manicures, pedicures, prescription medications, etc. In fact, did you know that in the United States, we spend roughly $1Billion a year on anti-anxiety medication? I heard that figure in church over the weekend and from what I’ve read online, that number may be low. How do you deal with stress?

Like all things, the bible (specifically Jesus) teaches us how to handle stress in John 14. He actually teaches us how to deal with a “troubled heart,” during the final hours of his life while speaking with his disciples. In John 13:33 Jesus says, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” As you might imagine, this caused an incredible amount of stress for the disciples. And if we relate this statement to our lives, there are three areas in our lives that consistently cause stress: 
  1. Death – whether it be the prospect of imaging our own death or the death of someone we love. 
  2. Daily problems of life – and not necessarily anything that in the whole scheme of things even matters, but our daily troubles can create anxiety (finances, schedules, relationships, etc). 
  3. Failure, sin and disobedience – usually occurring in the wake of a bad decision (as we’ve discussed in previous weeks – You Think You Know…But You Have No Idea) creates guilt.
Each of these things creates even more stress, and by Jesus telling his disciples that they cannot go where he is going creates a lot of stress – the simplest of which being that they weren’t sure how they could go on without him. 
Trust in God RS
Even though Jesus “died” hundreds of years ago, his message remains relevant to us today. So bearing that in mind, how does Jesus say that we can live without stress?
  1. Personal Faith in a Personal God brings Personal Relief. John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” It all starts with a personal relationship with God. Trust in HIM and keep believing that he has our best interest in mind. He’s got our back!
  2. While preparing a place for us, Jesus is also preparing us for that place. John 14:2-4 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place or you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Perhaps like me, you’ve also doubted that you really know where Jesus is – is there really this place we call “heaven.” To that, Jesus responds (John 14:6-7) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” In Raleigh, we’re starting to see billboards sponsored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. And while I do not support this organization, Jesus didn’t really like religion either. Let’s not forget…Jesus was not a Christian. He does not care if we’re Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, whatever. Again, it goes back to the first point, a personal faith…a personal God…a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will bring relief.
  3. God is working in your life. This principle really builds off of the previous one…God is doing work in us and through us. Sometimes that includes pain and suffering…even hard work. If you’ve made a personal commitment to Jesus, you certainly know this to be true. Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He’s not going to forget us and he’s not going to leave us hanging…and regardless of the pain we may be feeling right at this very moment, he promises us that if we just trust in him that we’ll come out on the other side in better condition that he originally found us.  Granted, I am far from perfect (HE is definitely still doing work in me and through me), but I am a much better person today than I was without HIM in my life.
  4. John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Although this piece of scripture is often misquoted and misinterpreted, we should be thankful for all the times that God does not give us what we asked for. I think we sometimes like to think of God like a genie in a bottle…that if we just ask for it, he’ll deliver. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), that’s not how it works. Would it be too cliche to queue the music: Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers anyone? However, if we pray for the Father to be glorified…anything is possible. 
  5. You are not alone – you have a helper! John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” For many of us, one of the biggest stresses in our lives is the idea (or even the reality) of feeling alone with no one to help you…in fact, it’s the quickest trip to depression (I’ve been there – I know). But, we are never alone, wherever we are…we have a counselor/helper along the ride to comfort and help us along. 
  6. Our lives our inseperately linked to Jesus. John 14: 19-20 “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Once we make a commitment to Jesus, God will protect us…he’s not going to let anything outside of his plan for us to happen…he will protect us.

With all of that said, how do we apply these principles? 
  1. When we begin to apply what we know, our stress and anxiety will be relieved. It’s not enough to just read the bible or even just making a commitment (remember the days of alter calls where new Christians were born each Sunday?) – we have to practice the Word. We have to live our lives in the way Jesus has taught us. 
  2. Obedience to Jesus is the greatest stress reliever of all. John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:23-24 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Again, Jesus doesn’t really care what denomination you are, but obedience – a willingness to carry out the will of the father, that does matter. 
How does your life really measure up to what HE has called you to do? When we’re obedient, that’s when we experience a life of joy, peace, happiness and free of stress. But, we’ll never experience this until we commit to trust, follow and obey.
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Disclosure: the above message was adapted from my church’s sermon this  weekend. To listen to the original message, click HERE. 

This is my SOOC shot. I made a quick adjustment in Adobe Camera Raw, applied Nice and Easy followed by the Daybook action Shannon created, and then layered a couple of textures by Kim Klassen. Have an incredible, blessed and stress-free Tuesday!
PS: I know I tucked it into the text, but if you have a moment, listen to “Only You” by David Crowder Band…so many songs I wanted to include, but this one touches my heart. I’ll have to start including at least one song in these posts.