I was going to start today’s article with the statement, We live in a world today unequaled in stress, however I’m not sure that’s true. It’s true that people today have plenty of stress in their lives, but so did every previous generation. My parent’s childhood was defined by the great depression when people stood in soup lines and many families didn’t know where their next meal would come from. As a little boy my father would sneak into the barn and eat out of the bag of dried milk because his family couldn’t afford real milk and it was the only way he could stop his hunger pangs. Talk about stress. As adults they were the generation who fought WWII. Again, my father served in the Pacific theater, leaving behind a wife and three small children to fight half a world away for their freedom. Talk about stress. I’m not minimizing anyone’s stress today because we have it. But it’s also true that we are neither the first nor the only people who have had to deal with it. Our stress today is just different from that of our parent’s generation.
So, how do you handle your stress? As a Christian the Bible gives us several strategies for handling stress. One is prayer. Philippians 4:6 says Be anxious (IE stressed out) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God (the cure for stress) which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Another strategy is faith. 1 Peter 5:7 says Casting all your care on Him, because He cares for you. That takes an active faith.
I want to focus in on a third strategy because it is one that many Christians overlook, but it is so important, and that is encouragement. We need the encouragement of other Christians and they need our encouragement. This was driven home to me recently as I read over my Facebook page (by the way, I’m finally coming into the technology age – I now have a cell phone, a Facebook page and just recently a GPS!! What’s next?!). The majority of my friends on Facebook are Christians and they very often post things that are spiritually encouraging, like Bible verses, prayers, quotes from Christian writers, answers to prayer, words of Christian songs, Christian videos, testimonies etc. Sometimes the postings are meant for a specific person but I find that even those normally encourage me. It’s often that I’m encouraged by one simple, short posting that brings my thoughts to thoughts of God.
Of course you don’t need to be on Facebook to encourage another believer – that’s not the point. The point is that however you do it, you need to look for ways to encourage other believers in ways that will lighten their burden (stress) and build them in their walk with God. It doesn’t have to be anything great or profound, a simple word or gesture will go a long way. People just like to know that someone cares about them and is thinking about them.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says Therefore comfort (IE encourage) each other and edify (build up) one another. See also Ephesians 5:19, Hebrews 3:13, 10:24, 25. That is our job, but even more importantly it is our privilege. It is more than probable that this week God will put someone into your life who needs to be encouraged. Be ready!
Stay in the Word