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Published June 2021
By Rev Dr Don Moore

Life is stressful enough without the added layers of stress due to the current pandemic! Stress has taken on a whole new meaning over this past 15 months. Never before have we had to respond to so much stress on so many unpredictable fronts. It never seems to let up for you to “catch your breath” as a leader.

Many leaders in God’s Word experienced unrelenting stress from which we can learn. Recall the extreme stresses that Elijah face from Queen Jezebel or remember David who faced daily with the threats from King Saul. Lessons are to be learned from each.

Let’s take a few moments to consider the Apostle Paul who was under constant harassment and powerful opposition not to mention his countless near-death experiences. Writing from his prison cell, Paul wrote Philippians 4:4-8 in which he shared 3 important responses to stress. Let’s take a look at each:

1. Stress: Reality Check
When stressed out it’s easy to find yourself all alone while your myriad of thoughts ricochet off the walls of your mind. This is when, Paul challenges us with a reality check. He says,
“Rejoice in the Lord always . . . let your gentleness be evident to all.”
Philippians 4:4-5

How on earth does he expect you to do that when overwhelmed stress? The key is in the next 4 words: “the Lord is near.” This suddenly provides for a seismic shift in your perspective! What a great reality check!

The almighty God of the universe who carefully crafted you cares and is present and available. As Peter stated,
When stressed out it’s easy to find yourself all alone while your myriad of thoughts ricochet off the walls of your mind. This is when, Paul challenges us with a reality check. He says,
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

What means can you devise to remind yourself to
do a reality check when you’re swamped with stress?

2. Stress: Reaction
With that reality check in mind, Paul goes on to give you some very practical instruction on how to react to stress. Since you know that God is near then,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6

In every stressful situation, your reaction is, in a spirit of thanksgiving, to pray, petition, and present your needs to God. He’s ready to not only listen but as James said,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
James 1:5

Notice that “thanksgiving” is nestled in the middle of Paul’s instruction. Thanksgiving demonstrates your faith in His presence and His readiness to answer your prayers even before you express them.

Presenting your needs to God will result in an amazing experience of His peace as He promises,

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

In stress-filled times do find yourself turning
to Him first for wisdom or as a last resort?

3. Stress: Refocused
Paul reminds us that once you’ve committed your needs to God, then leave them with Him and take time to refocus your attention on more important things,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:8

Afterall, since God is in charge, and you’ve committed matters to Him then don’t let yourself get distracted with the negativities of stress! Rather turn your attention to what is excellent and praiseworthy. You’ll gain an entirely new perspective.

What do you use to take your mind off
of the distresses of your day?

When stress overwhelms you like a flood, take a reality check for “The Lord is near.”
React with prayer, petitions and needs with a spirit of thanksgiving. Then refocus your attention on experiencing His peace as you think on all the positive things with which He has blessed you.

Don Moore
Executive Director Canadian Christian Business Federation

Don strongly believes that people are our nation’s most valuable asset. His Listen-Learn-Lead” approach to leadership has made him highly effective in executive roles in a variety of organizations with local, regional, national, and international reach. An entrepreneurial thinker and strategist, Don built a grassroots movement of denominational and ministry leaders committed to evangelism with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and led a National Consultation in Ottawa.