I know. You’re tired and stressed. We’re in the middle of a long, multifaceted crisis. It’s not just COVID and health. It is a crisis of convergence – medical, societal, racial, economic, and political. Any one of these would be a burden to carry. All together, they feel like an elephant on your shoulders. Here are seven pieces of godly wisdom for living faithfully under stress. (Some of these arose from a Zoom call with Rick Warren. A story for another day . . .)
Show grace to yourself and others. (I Cor. 1:8-10; Matt. 11:28-30)
Stress reveals our limits. Exhaustion is a normal response to crisis. In our limits we realize that we are weak . . . but God is strong. We are empty, God alone is our fullness. God shows us grace. Show grace to yourself, and to others. Rest in God, and be patient with others.
Set a predictable routine. (Eph. 5:15-16)
Crisis makes chaos of our schedules and causes stress. Predictability creates stability. Routine creates resilience. Structure gives strength. Set healthy routines. (Check out The Daily Pattern as a daily devotional routine.)
Monitor your media intake. (Matt. 6:22-23; Ps. 119:37)
There’s the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” What I see is what I become. What I absorb has the power to shape me. Stop watching an excess of news or mindless media. Set limits.
Build others up. (I Thess. 5:11)
Martin Luther said, “It is dangerous to be alone.” We need each other more than ever. Schedule daily conversations with someone you love, friend, neighbors. Develop a “ministry of calling” or note writing. Make it a goal to reach out to one person a day.
Share your feelings instead of stuffing them. (Psalm 39:12)
The Psalms give us a template of honest emotional expression. Grief, despair, anger. Feelings are meant to be felt. We are made in God’s image, so we feel as God feels – love, joy, anger. Unexpressed emotion festers. Find a healthy outlet.
Seek advice before making a major decision. (Prov. 11:14)
When you’re under stress, your capacity for decision making is diminished. Fear and anxiety are not good advisors. Create a personal “board of advisors.” Consult godly people you trust.
Focus on people in pain. (John 9:3)
Pain is a place for God’s healing. Suffering is the soil for God’s glory. Who does Jesus go to in the gospels? People in pain. The blind, lame, sick, oppressed, and demon possessed. Serve someone suffering more than you. In this moment, God is calling us to remarkable service, generosity, and witness. Jesus is the Remedy. You get to be a part of administering the sweet salve of the gospel.
You are loved. You are sent.