These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world- John 16:33
We live in challenging times. War in the Middle East, Russia and Ukraine, Ebola epidemic, Syria, Iraq, persecution of Christians, airplanes disappearing or getting shot out of the sky, the rise of militant Islam, terrorism…the headlines are continual reminders that we are living in a world spinning out of control. Add to this the dynamics of life; raising children, paying bills, pressures at work, keeping harmony in your marriage, rising prices, and spiritual ups and downs, and we have a toxic brew for stress and anxiety.
The scriptures speak of a time when men’s heart will “fail them for fear” as they behold the things that are coming on the world scene (Luke 21:26). Jesus said that we shall experience tribulation or “pressure” in the world 1. Another word for tribulation is to be in “straits” or in a “tight place” causing distress due to limitations we are experiencing in the demands of life. Your stomach feels sick, your blood pressure rises, your thoughts spin out of control and you lose that sense of peace that tells you that everything is going to be ok.
Even though Jesus said that we shall experience stressful times He also said that we can still dwell in the world with His peace and face life with courage and hope…”be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.
When we practice what the bible teaches about managing the things that stress us out We will sleep better, think better, act better, feel better, live better, and be better, in every season of life.
Mark 4:35-40 contains some key truths about what to do when we are faced with life’s challenges
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake”. So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (NLT)2.
The King James Version says that Jesus arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm
Jesus said “Let’s cross to the other side” and then went and took a nap. Meanwhile his disciples were faced with a difficult situation as a storm developed and they were attempting to navigate the dangerous waters. The waves crashed against their boat, the wind howled and they were tossed in the tempest…soon they were filled with fear as they realized that they were out of control in the situation and the boat might sink. So they gave Jesus a shake and told him to wake up. They said, “…don’t you care”? I believe this is one of the strategies of darkness while we are dealing with the pressures of life…doubting the love, care, and protection of God. Paul, in writing to the Philippians, reveals a strategy to keep stress and anxiety from overtaking them. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God , which passeth all understanding , shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” 3.
Strategies for Success in Stress
- Know that you are passing through to the other side!
- Jesus was very clear in what he said…”Let us go over to the other side”….then they got into the boat. When God speaks to us concerning his plans for our lives and we begin the journey we must keep our eyes on the other side. The storms may come, stressful situations may arise, doubts may try to fill our hearts but we MUST keep our eyes on the other side. How do we do this? We say what Jesus said…”We are going to the other side! It really does help to SAY IT. Jesus didn’t just think it. He said it. Are you in a storm? …go ahead and say it…”I am going to the other side”. “No weapon formed against me shall prevail”. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. “With God all things are possible”. “I am strong in the Lord and in the power of his might”. “God is FOR me and not against me”.
“…whosoever shall SAY unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart. But shall believe that those things which he SAITH shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he SAITH” Mark 11:23
- Write the Vision and read it often
- When Jesus got into the boat he did not plan of just drifting to wherever the breeze and the waters took him; He had a destination in mind. This is called “vision”. Many today are overcome by stressful situations because they are seeing the storm but have lost sight of their destination. The key to being successful in stress is to keep your destination and goals in mind…always look on where you are going…this is most important and will build faith and confidence , even while the waves are crashing against you
“Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it” Hab 2:2
“The just shall live by his faith” Hab 2:4
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18
- Bring your cares to Jesus
- God is with you every moment on your journey. His presence is always there yet we must draw close to Him. The disciples were right to go to Jesus and their success in stress came from Christ. Rather than allowing their hearts to be filled with fear and care, they could have come sooner and may have been commended for their faith rather than rebuked for their doubt.
- The moment you discern you are in a storm go to Jesus quickly. The pride of man says “I got this” but God says “trust in the LORD with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding”. Fear and anxiety turns little ripples into raging waves. Go quickly…draw nigh unto him and he will draw nigh unto you. Prayer will turn your stormy sea into a peaceful pond.
Phil 4:6- Be careful [anxious] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God , which passes all understanding , shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus
- Think good thoughts
- When God created our brain He gave us SOMETHING MORE POWERFUL than the most advanced computer. With over 100 billion brain cells packed into 3 pounds of matter the brain handles our vital life functions such as speech, thought, taste, movement, swallowing, breathing, smell, heart rate, emotions, perceptions, memory, etc. The bible teaches that our minds are amazingly powerful and need to be managed with care and diligence to ensure a good and prosperous journey in life
- We must be transformed in our thought life. Jesus was a SUPERNATURAL THINKER
- He poured in water and out came wine!
- WE either sink or swim in water…Jesus walked on it
- We hunker down in the storm…Jesus spoke to it!
- We cope with the incurable…Jesus heals it!
- We tolerate the demonic…Jesus cast the devils out
- We experience lack…Jesus experienced SUPPLY
- The thoughts of Jesus were always on the Father and the Kingdom and His mission!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just , whatsoever things are just , whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK on these things Philippians 4:8
Jesus is our peace and our relationship with him will keep us in perfect peace as our minds are stayed upon him. In all seasons of life, even when things seems out of control, you can be encouraged and have a hope filled heart because Jesus is on the journey with you. He said you are going to the other side. As you write and review your vision you will always have the destination in mind. Prayer and thinking good thoughts will fill you with all you need to navigate the sea of life and to be successful in stressful times.
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible- Tribulation = 2347= thlipsis = a pressing, pressing together, pressure, straits. Speaks of affliction, anguish, being burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble
- The New Living Translation
- Philippians 4:6-7- King James Version