In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
How do you deal with the unavoidable stress of life? Spend some time every day doing something you enjoy. If you want to get through a stressful day, make sure you have programmed into your day some time to do something you enjoy doing. Everybody needs something to look forward to. Just knowing that you are going to get to spend a few minutes doing something you want to do–a hobby, a sport, reading a book, watching a television program–can help relieve the stress of the day. There needs to be that time every day in your schedule–it might be seven o’clock at night, or it might be later–that is a finish time, when you say, “Maybe I haven’t washed every dish, I haven’t cleaned every garment, and I haven’t made every phone call or written every email that needs to be written, but I’ve hit the finish line for today, and I am going to pick it up tomorrow. Now I am going to do something I enjoy.” In Ecclesiastes 2:24, Solomon said, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink [or for me, to treat myself to a bowl of popcorn and a Diet Coke] and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.” God wants us to enjoy the life that He has given us.
Most importantly, how do you choose relaxation over stress? Spend time with God each day. I have discovered that how I begin my day and how I end my day governs my stress level throughout the day. For example, I woke up this morning and thought, “There’s something I need to talk to God about.” So I made myself stay in bed until I talked with the Lord about that. And just doing that energized the rest of my day. How you start and end your day determines the stress you feel. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” I think this was Jesus’s primary secret for dealing with the stress He felt with the assignment He had to be the Savior of the world. How did Jesus deal with His disciples who didn’t always do what they were supposed to do? How did He deal with His enemies? I think the secret was He stayed connected to His heavenly Father. One of the most fascinating verses about Jesus’s life comes from Mark 1:35: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Now, this was the day after the single busiest recorded day in Jesus’s entire ministry. He had started early teaching and healing people and gone late into night, but then the next morning when He certainly had every excuse for sleeping in, the Bible says He got up, He went to a lonely place while it was still dark, and He prayed. You see, for Jesus, time spent with God was not some legalistic spiritual requirement to be checked off. To Jesus, time spent with God was the secret of His strength, the source of His peace, and He offers us the same strength, the same peace if we’ll spend time with Him. That’s the foundation for choosing 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.