The Bible is full of help for the stressed out. But it's not a handbook that prescribes medical cures for the illnesses caused by stress. It’s far from a typical self-help book. It’s the Word of God, showing us the way to life, including relief from guilt over unforgiven sin, wisdom for making decisions, and help for responding to stressful circumstances with trust in God.
Scripture shows us how to live in step with God's design and avoid much of what ails us, including ill effects of stress. The Bible talks about the root cause of illness: the curse of sin (Gen 3, Romans 6). Then it helps us understand what to do about it.
We should seek Him in the midst of stress. Paul urged Christians to "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2, emphasis). Your mind-set has a lot to do with how stressed out you feel.
There is a better way.
Responding to Stress-Related Illnesses
The first best thing to do when you feel anxious, fearful, and stressed is to pray. Jesus gave us the model for praying (Matthew 9:6-13) and we see a variety of things we should pray for throughout Scripture. We should ask God for:
Wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5).
Help. "Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!" (Psalm 109:26).
Strength. "My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!" (Psalm 119:28).
God is always at work in the world to accomplish His purposes, and that includes using the hard things to mature His people. He wants us to grow in godliness, to become more like Jesus. He often uses the suffering of stressful circumstances to do it (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
He has also promised to use our stressful circumstances for our good. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
God has not promised to take us out of the world, or our stressful circumstances. The night before He died Jesus prayed, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one" (John 17:15-26). Jesus was asking God to protect His followers from the devil, who would try to steal their faith. He prayed this so that by remaining here and living in His strength, we would be His witnesses (23), the world would believe in Him and see the Father's love (21), we would grow in our experience of that love (26), and we would be changed over time to look more and more like Jesus (19).
1 Peter 5:7 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7).
A person who recognizes her inability to handle life's pressures is a person humble enough to cast her cares on another. This isn't a hand-off, but rather dependence on the Mighty God. Not only does God tell us to give our anxieties to Him, He says do it because He cares for us.
If you are a stressed-out Christian, this invitation is for you. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (NASB). It sounds like Jesus’ call, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mathew 11:28) Come to Him in faith and find strength and help and freedom. Come to Him in faith and be transformed, shining as a light in this stressed-out world (Philippians 2:15).