In our fast-paced culture, stress is seen as the norm. It’s losing its negative connotations and has instead become associated with hard work, ambition, and success.
We assume successful people are stressed people, so we strive harder. And a lack of stress can make us feel lazy or unmotivated.
The result? We’re constantly trying to do more and be more, which brings—you guessed it—more stress. We’re overcommitted because we can’t say no; we’re settling for superficial connections online instead of carving time for meaningful conversation; and we’re building stress into our identities.
But stressed-out, maxed-out lives are not what God had in mind for us. Jesus said that our enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That seems extreme, but stress can steal from us. It steals sleep. It steals happiness. It steals our mental capacity. And all the busyness that fuels our stress could leave us so distracted by the small stuff in life that we miss out on the big plans God has for us.
In contrast, Jesus said He came to bring us life and life to the full. Jesus came bringing peace and abundance, which is the opposite of a stressed (or drawn tight) kind of life.
So it’s time to reevaluate our stress. Let’s stop giving stress power. Let’s stop using it as a bragging right. Instead, let’s use a lack of stress as an opportunity to stand out, to be different, and to share our faith.
At the same time, I would like to point out a vital difference between the world's understanding of stress and the Biblical understanding of stress.
This graph below shows the concept of stress from a purely psychological view.
I believe that we are called to live in a relationship of Shalom with God, where we experience optimum and abundant life by being connected to the source of all life, wisdom and power.
The other extreme is to try to withdraw into oneself, like an ascetic, not thinking or feeling anything, which the graph here tries to portray as no stress, but in actual fact is equally as bad as high stress in terms of quality of life.
Depression is real, and is definitely not a low stress situation. It is a hidden stress that is very high.
We are aware of the flaws with the above graph and how it does not reflect reality.
So we at Shalom Lifecare have developed a new way to represent Stress and Performance.
When we live in the optimum Shalom of a living and dynamic relationship with God, we experience the highest performance humanly possible. By being as close to the centre of this graph, is what we mean by Shalom.
Christianity does not talk about escapism, or meditating to empty our minds, nor does it endorse performance of acts of piety or self mutilation as a way to reduce stress.
Christianity is filling our minds with the Word of God, and our hearts with the Spirit of God, and love ruling our hearnt and minds at all times.
The essence of this begins in a born again life, as a new creation.
When the world around us is drowning in stress, we will choose to stay calm, be still, and remember that God is God. When others constantly compete and compare with one another, we’re going to celebrate and cheer for one another. When other people are overwhelmed and hopeless, we will be people who carry such hope that unbelievers look on and ask us why we have the hope that we have.
We can find freedom from our stress when we stop giving it power and start turning toward the source of all power—our God. So let’s stop living in stress and instead take Jesus at His Word and live full lives.
Talk It Over
What would you say are some of the root causes behind your stress?
What do you think your life would look like if you eliminated your stress?
How can you stop giving stress power over your life?