Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.
Some stress is unavoidable and has to be dealt with. How do you keep stress from paralyzing you? Here are some biblical keys for choosing relaxation over stress.
First, gain God’s perspective on problems. When problems come, stress says you should panic, but relaxation responds to problems with expectation. In James 1:2, James said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” That word “encounter” is a Greek word that literally means “to ambush.” Have you ever had a day when all of a sudden you run into a problem that comes out of nowhere? Then another problem comes, and then another problem. I’ve found problems usually don’t travel alone; they come in groups. That is what James was talking about here. Many times, we are ambushed by various trials. How are we to respond? He said not with panic; consider it joy. Now, he’s not saying we should think, for example, “Yippee, I have a flat tire! Thank you, Lord, for this.” That’s unrealistic. Joy is not giddiness; it’s the calm assurance that God is in control of your circumstance. To choose relaxation over stress means to understand that God is in control, and He can use this for some positive benefit in your life.
Second, live life in the present tense. When we spend our time dwelling on mistakes from the past that we cannot change or anticipating problems in the future which we can’t foresee, we are going to have a stress-filled life. God never intended for us to live in the past or to live in the future, but to live in the present tense. I think it’s significant that when God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14, God called Himself, “I AM WHO I AM.” Yahweh, I AM, was the most sacred name of God. Now, God is not bound by time, but we are. That’s why when we try to live in the past when we can’t change it, or we try to anticipate the future when we can’t foresee it, we are bound to a stress-filled life. Relaxation means living life in the present tense.
Third, take a day off every week. Do you know which of the Ten Commandments has the most space devoted to it? It’s not “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not lie,” or “Thou shalt not murder.” The commandment that receives the most space in Exodus 20 is about taking a day off every week. Look at verses 9-11: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” God said one day a week you need to cease your regular activity and reenergize yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us. He designed us in such a way that we can’t work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We need a day of rest. A Sabbath day allows us to regain our perspective of what’s really important. Taking a day off every week is vital to experiencing relaxation over stress.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Relaxation over Stress” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.