Stress is a common concern; it can be detrimental to one's health, mental state and spiritual life, yet stress can also have positive results, such as pushing you forward to complete a job.
Stress can be managed whether you are a Christian or not. Stress management classes, both Christian and non-Christian, will have several similarities, but I believe the Christian has resources available to them that non-Christians do not. Note the following stress reducers:
Any routine gives predictability. You get up in the morning, use the bathroom, dress, eat, and go to work. Not exciting, but you know what to expect. Any stable routine reduces stress. Yet there are other acts within a Christian routine that multiples the effectiveness of the routine. Add a prayer, a morning devotion with others or just by yourself, and affirm your baptism. Make God part of that predictable routine.
If we have control over our environment we can predict events and decrease stress. Driving on dry well-maintained roads gives us control and reduces stress. Loss of control makes us vulnerable and on edge. Scripture speaks of having self-control through the aid of the Spirit. As the Spirit aids in taking control of our lives, we find calm.
If I am rappelling off a cliff, my stress is reduced if I can trust my equipment and my training. If I don't trust those things, I will never step off or I'll panic. As we go through life and death in this world, God's promises are there, and we can trust them. Even in death, God is still in control and we need not fear.
Positive relationships reduce stress. Isolation or hostility from others increases stress. Prisoners of war are often told that their country abandoned them, and their families think they're dead. The enemy attempts to destroy the relationships the POWs have with those they trust. In the Christian faith we have a communion of believers, relationships build on the Rock that is Christ. We live in one faith, one hope, and one baptism.
To have purpose in the mist of sufferings and challenges is powerful. The more noble the purpose and committed to that purpose, then the greater the strength one has in adversities. Every Christian has purpose given to him or her at their baptism, that as His priest we love God and our fellow man. Your vocation as a father, mother, farmer, or law enforcement officer shows your purpose to God and community. We don't need to save the world; that's God's job.
The last is stewardship of body, time, and God's gifts to you. As you maintain good health, don't bite off more than you can chew, and see God's blessings daily; stress is reduced.
Stress will stay with us as long as we live, but we can be the victor in the battle, for God stands with us in every challenge and in every day.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.