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Circumstances for Clapping Hands is a blog about reasons to give praise to God, despite my circumstances. As Henry David Thoreau once addressed, “There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” The challenges: 1) Find value in everything you do and 2) Find joy in doing it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Christian's Perspective on Stress

Stress is a disease.  It infects the mind, deteriorates the body, and harms the soul.  It’s an instigator of worry that forces one to ask “What if?” with a dreadful tone, rather than “What’s next?” with pure joy.  Stress is a preventer and a manipulator.  Its presence has left wounds unhealed and noticeable scars on all of us.  Stress dictates many of our actions and thoughts.  Stress is a poison, with fear as its primary ingredient. 

Everyone has struggled with stress.  Few have gone as far to take their own lives.  Most have settled for a worry-filled existence, refusing to reach their full potential, afraid of what could happen.  We’ve granted stress the ultimate authority.

Undoubtedly, stress is a daily hazard that we all face.  No matter the size or the direction from which it comes, stress consistently rears its ugly face into our lives.  It bombards us with worry after worry and even when we think it can’t get worse; our stress multiplies.  Truth is, stress, as a by-product of sin will forever be a part of this fallen world, however its hold over us does not have to continue.  What if we had the power to control our stress?  Even better, what if we had the ability to hand our stress off to another to shoulder?

For those who face stress repeatedly, let’s examine together the greatest example of stress control, Jesus Christ.  Remember, Jesus himself endured stress at a magnified level.

Having been fully aware of His purpose as a man, Jesus endured more than any other could bear and yet He still served.  Jesus was tempted not once, nor twice, but in all, three times by the greatest tempter (Satan) and He still served.  Knowing full well that He would be betrayed by one of His closest friends, Jesus still served.  Understanding that He would be brutalized, mocked and left to die, Jesus still served.

In light of these stressful situations, the point remains clear in that Jesus served.  And herein lies an important lesson I would ask you to consider.  What if we took on Jesus’ example of servanthood?  Now before you ignore this idea, let me be the first to say that as a Christian, I’m well aware that the discussion of service has become cliché.  From Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, we are constantly reminded of his service.  We’ve heard repeated sermons on his ministry and how we should serve others.  From his feeding of the 5000, to speaking with the women at the well, it is abundantly clear that Jesus remained focused on others.  But if you can, stop and think about what I’m saying.  He did all of these in the face of stress.

Jesus endured, in human form, what we do everyday (Hebrews 4:15).  The negative influence of others, selfishness, arrogance, frustrations, isolationism, ridicule, suffering, threats, persecution and high expectations were all a part of his life.  Yet even with these nagging strains, Jesus persevered.

Noting Francis Chan, one of the great speakers of this generation, I have come to realize there’s more to this life than what we deem worthy of worry.  I’m reminded of one specific point Chan shares in his book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.”

Think about this:  How great would life be if lived unafraid of anything?  Seriously, can you begin to imagine a life without worry, fear, and stress?  Is this even possible?  Shouldn’t we at least investigate the possibility? 

I believe Hebrews 13:6 says it best:  “So we can confidently say,  “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

I think it would do the world a great service if we each asked ourselves the following:  How often do I actually take into account what Jesus says?  How often do I truthfully seek his guidance?  How adamant am I in my belief of this verse?  Do I really need God’s help?  After all, he is here to do just that.  Unfortunately, I believe you and I, as Christians, are more like the world than we care to believe, choosing to be sincere towards God’s plan only when it is in unison with our will and desires.

With this realization I’ve come to understand that trust in its purest form is the hardest thing for mankind to develop.  We don’t want to give up our control.  Our sinful nature, pride, and arrogance lead us to believe that we can handle anything.  Over time, we have allowed ourselves to believe that stress is inevitable.  Something that we need to accept.  But that’s just it!  We don’t have to.  We’ve needlessly worried, cried, kicked, scream, and yelled (among other things) all due to our inability to accept someone else’s help. 

Recently I’ve come to understand that even Christians forget this point.  Regardless of the numerous Bible studies we’ve participated in or the endless reminders we’ve been given, we still lose sight of our designed purpose.  We instead replace those ideals with idols and begin to grow ever frustrated and worried about things Jesus has already promised to take care of.

So, what if we changed our perspective?  What if our focus fell more inline with God’s?  What if we lived as we should, and did what we were designed to do? (Matthew 20:16)  What if we did our jobs and did them well? (Parable of the Talents-Matthew 25:14-30)  What if we cared for others as we care for ourselves? (Parable of the Good Samaritan-Luke 10:25-37)  What if we searched out community in place of isolation? (1 Peter 4:9)  What, if in the face of stress, we still served others? (Christ’s Crucifixion)  What if we gave our stresses over to Jesus? (1 Peter 5:7)

By changing our mindset, I believe we can change our perspective.  I know stress will always be present in our lives, but we don’t have to carry it alone or keep us from reaching the potential God has designed for us in advance.


  1. In reflecting on the stress Christ endured in His life on Earth, my worries and stresses seem so small and trivial. Who am I to question the ability of God to be my guide in this life?When in fact it is I, the follower, that am always lacking and bring myself stress and worry.

  2. Thanks Jon. This post actually really inspired andrew and I. We are very stressed as we wait for a court date, and we decided last minute to go to our favorite orphanage in Mexico this Saturday with donations that had been piling up. I think it's meant to be.