One of my favorite books of which I still have on my bookshelf is titled, “Too Blessed to Be Stressed,” written by Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook in 1998. After reading her book many years ago, I seized the title as my personal slogan when I felt something, or someone was pushing my stress button… to recite, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” By one definition stress is, “a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.” We are undeniably living in stressful times: pandemic, racial turmoil, school closings, presidential election, and the death of a love one or acquaintances, just to name a few.
I am not a mental health professional and therefore, I will not suggest any methods one can use when dealing with stress. I will, however, suggest how Christians might consider ways to cope with stress - the Bible.
The Word of God makes several references to stress and anxiety, giving us the answer on how to overcome this toxic emotion. One of my favorite bible verses on how to overcome stress can be found in Philippians 4:6-9. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us not to be anxious about tomorrow because tomorrow is not yet here. To paraphrase, our only concern should be what is going on today. The old gospel song, “One Day at A time, Sweet Jesus” is asking Jesus to help us be concerned with only today. Amen!
However, sometimes after reading a particular scripture or scriptures, you may not find any relief and remain stressed. What do you do? Where do you go? Who do you know? Well, allow me this opportunity as one Christian to another and suggest Jesus. There is no one in the bible who carried more stress in life than Jesus. Not only did Jesus carry the weight of being the Savior of the world on His shoulders, but there were constant demands on His life. Yet, when we consider Jesus life, He does not seem to be worried by it. He handled all the pressures with peace. In fact, we never see Jesus in a hurry, even though He had the most important assignment in life. No matter what the world threw at Jesus, He handled it with grace.
So how did Jesus deal with stress? According to our focal text Mark 1:35 , He had the best stress reliever which we need to follow as a model. Mark tells us that Jesus woke up very early in the morning to spend some quiet time with His Father. If your alarm clock is set to wake you up at 6 a.m., to prepare for work or whatever, be intentional and set it for 5:30 a.m. Those extra minutes of quiet time before you begin your day will help you reflect, renew, and recharge. Most importantly, we need this quiet time to commune with Jesus, read scriptures, study or meditate. The scripture says that when Jesus was in His place of solitude and alone, He prayed. Prayer is powerful and prayer changes things.
Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” When we read God’s word and pray to Him - at the throne of mercy and grace, it can lighten the stress that is weighing down our hearts and mind. My prayer for you can be found in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.”
-Min. Ruby Brown