Meeting Stress – God’s way

We all deal with stress that comes from a thousand different directions.
What does my boss want from me?
Could anything else possibly go wrong ?
Will I ever feel whole and healthy again?
Is it even possible to overcome that addiction?
What is happening to the world I live in?  

These are familiar questions that come to people of all ages. We respond to the stress they bring in very different ways depending on our understanding, our personality, how we were taught to see life, our experience, and our faith.  Some people can’t deal with a bad haircut. It ruins their attitude for days. Others appear to sail serenely through a cancer diagnosis, full of hope. There is one key factor for managing stress in God’s way.

God’s wisdom for bearing up under life’s stresses teaches us to create and maintain strong relationships.The inspired Word says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-13, NIV)  Studies reveal that adding a close friend to a stressful situation will reduce the stress response in a person by half.  Yes, it true! Just having a trusted friend present lowers stress significantly.

Good spiritual and emotional health includes having genuine friendships. Stress that pushes us into isolation, that makes us feel all alone, creates a fertile field for the growth of addictions, compulsions, self-defeating thoughts, and sin.

Remember the story of Elijah after his greatest victory? He saw God’s power revealed before the nation, the destruction of the idol worship in Israel, and the miraculous rain that broke a famine in the land. But, when threatened by Queen Jezebel, he ran off by himself, hid out in the desert, and eventually asked God to just let him die!  Exhausted, he made a critical mistake. He left friend and support behind, trying to go it alone.

Have you made building solid friendships and close relationships a priority in life?  We need more than those people that we go out to dinner with occasionally to share a few laughs. We need more than those people who sit in the same church only known by name. We need people who know us, inside out, who will encourage us with the truth, who will go the distance with us, who won’t walk out on us.  

Maybe you are reading that and thinking how few, if any, people like that you have in your life. Lacking solid, life-long friends is not uncommon today in our nation. Our American ideal of privacy, our loss of community and neighborhood, and our churches which turned into gathering places for one hour every other week have left us impoverished when it comes to forming those close relationships that keep us when we are stressed by life.

Making and keeping friends is something of a lost art for many of us.  How do we do it? That could take a book to answer but here are a few thoughts.

  1. See friendship as a true value worthy of investment of your time.
  2. Be the friend you want. One-sided, needy relationships are toxic.
  3. Forgive. Nobody’s friends are flawless.
  4. Adjust to changes in situations. Friendship that survive are not static.
  5. Realize that social media cannot replace ‘in person’ contact for true friends.
  6. Keep Christ at the center. A shared walk with the Lord is a powerful bond.
  7. Invest time. Not every encounter will sparkle with excitement.
  8. Stay committed.

In my worst crisis of life, when I knew that Bev, my late wife, was terminally ill with cancer, it was not just faith that kept me whole. My kids, who made loving their parents a priority in spite of busy lives and living far away, and my friends who hung in through up’s and down’s, who shared tears, sent notes, prayed with me and for me became my shelter in the storm. It is beyond my imagination to think of going through those 20 months of the awfulness of cancer’s slow death without all those people who were willing to walk the road with me.

Storms will come to us all, more than the gusts of inconvenience, but real hurricanes that threaten to destroy the life we cherish! Even now so many of us are stressed by a world in chaos, by the threat of pandemic illness, by multiple unknowns in our future. Let’s be the Body of Christ. Let’s learn to love beyond words and in this to reveal the goodness of the Lord to the world in which we live.

Here is the word from the Word. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NIV)  Be a friend. Find a friend. Keep those friends close.


What A Friend We Have In Jesus

(not the hymn you expect 😊 )

Everybody has trials and temptations
Everybody knows heart break isolation
But we can lay our burdens down
Lay our burdens down

What a friend we have in Jesus
East to west my sins are gone
I see grace on every horizon
And forever and ever His heart is my home

Everybody has fears everybody got worries
Everybody knows sorrow devastation
But we can lay our burdens down
Lay our burdens down

No more betrayal for He is faithful
He fills me up and my cup runneth over
No more betrayal for He is faithful
How He has proven it over and over (over and oh)

Abbie Parker | Adam Palmer | Matt Maher | Matthew Hein
© All Essential Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)
Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)
I Am “They” Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)
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