Handling Stress without Falling Apart
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. - Psalm 119:143 NLT
A couples’ conference I once attended emphasized that situations don’t cause emotions. And at first, many in attendance resisted that teaching. I’m sure we were all calculating the number of times stressful circumstances had definitely brought negative emotions to the surface. Illness, financial crunches, weather disasters, parenting challenges, job loss or changes—all suggested stress that often produced anger, disappointment, fear, depression, or confusion in our lives.
Most couples don’t exactly paste on an automatic smile when attacked by a life-changing situation. Marriage itself is stressful, according to the apostle Paul: “when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time” (1 Corinthians 7:28 TLB). Adding in other ingredients, like life, can result in a flurry of hurtful emotions.
So how do you explain that statement, that the pressures of life don’t cause emotions? Losing your job or dealing with a rebellious child can result in anger or even depression. Certainly, things like chemical imbalances, etc. can affect our emotional stability. But in most cases, it isn’t the stressful situation that causes or produces those feelings. What you believe about the circumstance is the culprit.
The psalmist’s response to trouble, pressure, and stress in Psalm 119 is not anger or despair. “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Even as he is experiencing those things, he reaches deep and discovers joy. The word “commands,” most likely indicates “instructions.” Who gives him help and instructions for such life stresses? God, the Author and Finisher of our faith—the One who is our Refuge and Strength, the One who knows and loves us with an everlasting love.
Because the psalmist knows the reputation of the One who gives him instructions for life, he can safely trust Him. He has tried and tested God’s premises and promises. He believes in the faithfulness of God and His Word. I think he’s probably learned the secret found in 1 Peter 1:7 (TLB): Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.
That probably also explains why in difficult circumstances one spouse can respond positively, and the other reacts negatively. It’s why one couple can face a major setback without allowing it to destroy them, while another folds when dealing with similar issues. Check out their belief systems.
Is God a good, good Father, or is He a God out to get us? Does He passionately pursue us? Or does He leave us out in the cold to fend for ourselves? Can we find joy in trusting Him no matter what happens, believing that He is in control? Or will we blame our spouse or God when things turn sour? What do you truly believe?
While most of us may experience temporary, undesirable emotions during stressful times, a couple’s belief system that is based on a together faith and assurance in a God who works all things out for our good, will sustain them and keep them secure. Deepening our trust in God and casting all our worries and stresses on the One Who loves us with a passionate, forever love will keep us from parking on negative emotions or destructive beliefs.
What a blessing it is to discover joy in the middle of all the stresses that bear down on us!
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and day-voted follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. After five decades of marriage, she and her husband are more passionate about marriage and family than ever. Rebecca has authored and contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. She is a regular Crosswalk contributor whose daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is also available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can sign up for Rebecca’s free ebook and find out more about her and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
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