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Victory Over Stress

Learn to live with a quiet heart.


Victory Over Stress

by Elizabeth Hodges


Stress. Pressure. Frustration. Anger. Desperation.

All are part of the human experience in this sin-cursed world. If we do not guard our lives carefully, we can find ourselves on an endless roller coaster, a series of emotional ups and downs that ultimately lead to defeat. As believers, however, God has called us to rise above the chaos, to conquer the stress that would ruin our lives. In John 15:11, Jesus told his followers, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

Psalm 23 reminds us that God the Shepherd is always there to meet our needs in good times and bad, leading and guiding through difficulty and darkness. In Matthew 28:19, 20, Jesus promised to be with us always. Second Corinthians 12:9, 10, make it clear that God’s grace is sufficient, and His strength is perfected by our weakness. The Apostle Paul went on to declare, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.” God wants us to find victory over stress by depending on Him, His Word, and His strength.
In light of these truths, consider the following acronym.


S – Sit at Jesus’ Feet

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Do you find this difficult, at times seemingly impossible? Yet God commands us to be still, and we can be confident He wants us to obey.

When my three children were young, finding time for Bible study was an ongoing challenge. Samuel has always been an early riser (which now serves him well in the Marine Corps). When my feet hit the floor in the morning, he was awake and ready for the day. Then came Stephen and Sarah close behind. The three children refused to take naps at the same time, no matter how diligently I coordinated my efforts. So, I gave them notebooks, Bibles, pens, and highlighters like mine, and we all “studied” together at the kitchen table.


Victory Over Stress

I always chuckle to read about Susanna Wesley, mother of 17 children, including famous sons John and Charles. She would throw her apron over her head when she needed time with the Lord. The active children learned quickly not to disturb their mother at those moments.

Setting aside daily time before God is crucial—even when it is inconvenient. When Jesus visited sisters Mary and Martha (Luke 10), Mary sat quietly at His feet and listened, while Martha bustled around the house as a good hostess. Eventually, Jesus rebuked Martha for being “cumbered about with much serving.” How many of us ignore God because we are cumbered about with His work, His ministry? A friend once told me, “If I must be a Martha, give me a Mary’s heart.”

That is my prayer as well. I too am busy like Martha. I want to learn when to be quiet, to sit at my Savior’s feet, to know Him so I can be molded into His image. As the old hymn says, it takes time to be holy. We cannot know God if we have a “drive-thru mentality.” Spiritual food is not fast food.

Even Jesus drew apart to spend time with His Father during His earthly ministry. If He, being God, needed to be refreshed, how much more do we?

Thomas Manton, Puritan preacher and writer in the 1600s, once said, “What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation.” Meditation is to our souls what digestion is to our physical bodies.


T – Trust in the Lord

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path” (Proverbs 3:5, 6). “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). “In quietness and confidence [He] shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15c).

Have you heard the old saying, “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child”? How true! As John 16:33 reminds us, we will always have stress in our lives because we live on this earth; but we also know the One in charge. We should be like the bird tucked comfortably into her nest while a raging waterfall crashes around her. Do we rest in His care?

Often, we come boldly to the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16) with our problems only to pick them up and take them with us when we walk away. If God cares about the lilies, feeds the birds, and numbers every hair on our heads, is He not more concerned about these things that trouble us? He only asks that we seek Him and His will, and He will take care of the rest (Matthew 6:33).


R – Rest, Relax, and Recreate

Sleep is a gift from God. But how often do we thank Him for this priceless gift? Sleep does for our bodies what nothing else can do. It refreshes. It heals. It renews. But when we allow stress to rule our lives, we often fret more than we sleep. We toss and tumble as our restless minds review the problems of the previous day and rehearse our plans for the next. We must learn to leave our cares on the nightstand, or even better, in God’s capable hands. Amy Carmichael once said, “In acceptance lieth peace.”

Learn to relax. What brings you relief, enjoyment, and pleasure? From arts and crafts to painting, reading, golfing, or hiking, find a physical activity that reduces the effects of stress on your body. Recreation gives you time to “re-create” and change your routine. It doesn’t have to be expensive as long as it provides time to refocus priorities. The possibilities are endless: retreats, walks in the woods, visits with family or friends, traditions, sports or sporting events, sunrise or sunset from the porch, calling a friend.

The key is balance. Work hard when it is time to work, and then walk away. Don’t become a victim of false guilt because something remains undone. We will never get it all done, or we will be out of a job. We simply need to do our best.


E – Encourage

In Philemon 7, Paul praised Philemon for refreshing the saints—including Paul. In turn, Paul's letters ministered to believers for the rest of human history. Can anyone say that you have refreshed his or her spirit?

Second Samuel 9 records David’s kindness to Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth. Hebrews 10:24 challenges readers to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Romans 16:1, 2, commends Phoebe as a sister, servant, and helper.

Do others consider us helpful? Do we encourage them in tangible ways? Contrary to public opinion, it is always more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Our own problems pale as we focus on the concerns of others.


S – Strengthen

Philippians 4:8 challenges us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, 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.”

How much of our thought life do we invest in these categories? Refocusing our attention on the list above will provide us needed strength instead of worry and frustration. After all, worry rarely changes anything.

We must rest, knowing God is in control and does all things well. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” No matter how heavy our load, we can always find strength in the everlasting arms of God.
Lamentations 3:22-23 phrases it beautifully. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.”


S – Share

Share what God is teaching you with others. Like a lake without an outlet, knowledge grows stagnant when hoarded.
Make yourself available to others. Be approachable, vulnerable, confidential, and sacrificial. Be available, even when it is inconvenient. Learn to listen without forming a reply until the other person has finished talking. Focus on being a good friend.

At the same time, seek a friend. Find someone who will hold you accountable and allow you to share anything without fear of rejection or broken confidence. When you find such a friend, express your gratefulness—both to God and to that person. True friendship is rare, a treasure to be cultivate.

As you encounter stressful events in your life, be encouraged by God’s promise in Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” With confidence in His words, pursue and develop a quiet heart and find victory over the stress in your life.


About the Writer: Elizabeth Hodges is executive director of Women Nationally Active for Christ. She and her husband Eddie live in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where he pastors Hendersonville FWB Church.



©2011 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists