Stress Management

By on December 21, 2011

By Karen Jordan –

Stressed out by all of the holiday activities?

The day after Thanksgiving, I found myself overwhelmed by the approaching holiday season. I avoided Black Friday sales, but I didn’t escape the Monday morning blues. I wondered how I could have gone from blessed to stressed in just a few days.

How can we get a grip on our stress, so we can focus on our blessings? Lamentations (3:28-29 MSG) gives us a clear word on how to deal with stress. “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear”

But what does that advice look like in the real world?

1. “Go off by yourself.” Jesus knew the importance of spending time alone with His Father. When He needed to hear from Him, He would get away from everyone else. We read in Matthew 14 that after Jesus fed the 5,000, “… he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. (23)

Sometimes solitude seems impossible! My son Adam still jokes about the many times I locked myself in the bathroom for a good cry. Now that my kids have homes of their own, I still retreat to my prayer “closet” at times. But since I have more space at home now, I can usually find a more comfortable place of solitude than my bathroom.

2. “Enter the silence.” In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we find Hannah, crying out to the Lord. Hanna’s husband had two wives. [That’s enough to cry about right there.] But the second wife taunted year after year, accusing God for Hannah’s inability to conceive children. “Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried-inconsolably … praying in her heart, silently” (10-13)

Solitude doesn’t guarantee silence. But I find that I must choose to tune out the distractions at times. Whether someone else has provoked me (like Hannah’s husband’s other wife), or I’m tormented by negative thoughts, it takes effort, planning, and God’s grace to embrace silence.

3. “Bow in prayer.” Prayer can become natural as talking to good friend on the phone. Or it can be as intimate as a secret whisper. It can happen any time of day, no matter where you are or what you are doing. God promises that if we just call His Name, He’ll listen. 1 John 5:14 says, “… if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us …”

Philippians 4: 23 urges us not to “… fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”

And “… (if) we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans” (Romans 8:26).

4. “Don’t ask questions (?)” I had a little bit of trouble with this point at first. So, I searched God’s Word for some examples. I noticed when Jesus taught His parables to His disciples, He asked them on several occasions, “Are you listening to this? Really listening?” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9; Mark 4:9; Mark 4:23)

My questions often get in the way of my communication with God—I’m talking, instead of listening. But I’m so grateful that God is not impatient with me, like I am with my loved ones at times. In fact, I’ve learned a lot about parenting as I search God’s Word. Not only does He promise to provide whatever I need, according to what’s best for me, He’s not surprised by my child-like questions.

5. “Wait for hope to appear.” I’ve spent a lot of times in waiting rooms during my adult life, especially during this past decade. And I don’t really like to wait. In fact, I’m very impatient at times. But waiting does not need to be boring or hopeless. We can have hope when we know that God hears us, and He will answer our cries for help. The psalmist speaks of “waiting” in Psalm 40, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry … Blessed are those who make the Lord their trust …” (1-4 TNIV)

Blessed. As you face the stressful holidays again, I hope that you will take some time to “…  go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear” (MSG).

 

Karen Jordan is best known for telling the stories that matter most. Karen’s writing workshops have been popular in multiple venues, and she has written for several publications and book compilations. As a CLASSeminars certified speaker, Karen is available to address topics about faith, family, and writing. Website: http://www.karenjordan.net

About Karen Jordan

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Stress Management