Life can be very stressful. Everyone faces, at one time or another, something that knocks them down or shakes them up. There seems to be 5 categories of stressors, I call them the 5 D’s…
- DEATH – when someone close to us dies.
- DISEASE – when we get sick or hurt and it changes how we live.
- DIVORCE – when issues in marriage come up (not just a divorce itself).
- DILEMMA – when non-health related issues arise, like loss of a job.
- DEPENDENTS – when issues affecting our children.
This is not an exhaustive list, but most difficulties fall within one of these 5 categories. How do we handle it when we get bad news increasing our stress levels?
For a lot of folks, they run away or try to avoid the problem. Here are a few other negative coping mechanisms…
- Acting out – not coping, but giving in to misbehave
- Denial – refusing to acknowledge the problem
- Distancing – moving away from the problem
- Emotionality – outbursts and extreme emotion
- Passive Aggression – avoiding refusal by passive avoidance
- Provocation – getting others to react so you can retaliate
- Somatization – psychological problems turned into physical symptoms
A clear example of this are those in Acts 7 who had become completely enraged when confronted with the reality they had killed The Messiah.
“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” [Acts 7:54-58]
In another place, when Nehemiah learned of the distress of his people, he wept. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted,” [Neh 1:4]
Stress is unavoidable, coping with it in a godly way is a choice and a blessing from God. How can we handle stress in a godly way? One of the ways is prayer.
In the Acts 7 passage, when Stephen was under attack, he prayed… “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60]
What did Nehemiah do in his stressful situation? He prayed. “and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned..” [Neh 2:4-6]
It doesn’t take much time, it can be done in a moment. When asked about his sorrow by the king… “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” [Neh 2:4]
What is your first response to stress? Is it to run away? Is it to lash out at the one you perceive is the cause? Is it denial? None of these will be of any help in your time of need.
God’s people have the avenue of prayer, let that be our first response.
“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” [James 5:13]