Stress is so common in our world, it is very normal to meet people feeling stressed-out everyday. For some feeling stress is so normal they really don’t know what it is like to not have stress. “Life is stressful” is a very common belief.
So why are so many people stressed? What causes the stress. Here is a story that I hope is helpful. Imagine that a person is asked to answer 20 math problems in 5 minutes, or else they would have to pay $10,000. If you were in that situation for real, do you think you might feel some stress? Most people say that would be stressful. But now imagine that you are handed a worksheet with 20 math problems, and you see they are all single digit, simple math problems. Like: 1+1, 2+1, 2+2, 5+3, 4+2, etc. Now what happens to your stress level when you see these simple math problems? Most people tell me the stress goes away. So, what caused the stress, and why did it go away?
Most people are stressed because they fear a negative outcome. Often there is a fear of failure in some way. It could be fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt, fear of not getting everything done, fear of being alone, financial fears, etc. It is the fear of the negative outcomes that causes the stress.
Now let’s be realistic, there are days with bad news. There are times when we fail, experience rejection, run out of money, etc. So, since bad things do happen sometimes, how can we let go of fear and stress? There is a secondary fear that is the most stressful. Often when we are faced with a challenge, or something bad might happen or has happened, we are afraid that says some truth about us. We fear that it means deep-down there is something wrong with us, that somehow we are inferior beings. We fear the deepest truth about us is something ugly.
But that is not God’s truth. When something bad happens it doesn’t mean we are inferior beings, it means we are going adversity and an opportunity to learn. We don’t need to fear the challenges of life, the days with bad news. They are going to come, but you are going to be OK. In fact all the challenges giving you stress are meant to help you improve, to develop more Christ-like character. You can use the adversity to learn and grow and progress. God would not allow adversity into your life that couldn’t be used for good. In fact the reason God allows adversity on our planet in the first place was to give us experience and help us improve. So there is nothing to fear, even though life is uncertain and hurtful things happen.
So the next time you are stressed, remember that no matter what happens next, if it is the worst news possible, you are going to be OK. With God’s help you are going to get through this and somehow be better off for the experience. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. God allows us to be stretched to the limits of our capacity so we can increase our capacity. Being stretched like that has never been easy for me, but always good for me.
Change your forecast. What most people don’t realize is the forecast they have when they are stressed. What they are thinking is something like this, “If this doesn’t happen the way I want it to, then this bad thing will happen, and that is going to be hurtful or really hard, and somehow I’m not going to make it. I can’t see another solution, things are going to be beyond hope.” So, change that forecast and say, “Even though things are really hard, and there could be more bad news on the way, and failure is a possibility here, I am going to be OK! I am going to learn from this experience and use this to be better than I ever have been. This challenge is perfect for my learning, growth, and progression. Thank you God for this opportunity even though it is hard/hurtful!”
It is not always easy to remember the positive forecast, but when you do, it helps to dispel fear and stress. Hope enters the picture. A person can be at peace even in great difficulty. There is nothing to fear!
If you have any thoughts to add, please comment below!