What’s Your Focus?
I will not let the stress of ________ overtake my life. All of us have a “blank” that we stress about. We all stress. It’s a part of life. Stress consumes us. But how do we really change it? How do we let go and begin to live in the present?
First, let’s define stress. Dictionary.com says stress is “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”. Strain is defined as “to stretch beyond the proper point or limit.” So that means stress is when physical, mental or emotional things stretch us beyond our limits. It becomes too much for us to bear.
What happens when things become too much for us to bear? Our attitudes, words, thoughts and actions begin to change. We begin to impose our feelings and stress on those around us. They in turn become stressed, too.
This can not be the way to handle life when things become difficult.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 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 1:2-5
We see here that it’s a given that we will face trials, not an “if”, but a “when”, meaning we would all deal with them. But James says here that it would help build up perseverance. It would help us get through things in our life in order to grow and strengthen us.
So I believe God gives us wisdom on how to persevere through trials or stressors. But first, what is the opposite of stress or trials? I believe that’s peace. What does He say about peace?
A heart at peace gives life to the body ...
– Proverbs 14:30
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27
If a heart at peace gives life to our body, what do you think stress and discord do to our bodies? I would imagine that a lack of peace could be the reason for some of the challenges in our bodies. I don’t know about you, but I want life for my body.
According to this passage in John Jesus left us His peace and we have access to it.
Philippians 4:6-7 says.com:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It’s saying here that when we bring things to God in prayer that He gives us a peace that doesn’t make sense. Meaning that this kind of peace is not recognizable as something we would expect or understand. It’s time to start bringing our stress, strain or turmoil to God and see what He does with it.
It goes on to say in verse 8:
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.
So when the enemy tries to bring that stressful thing to your mind, you’re being told right here to do with it. You take that thought and you compare it to this checklist:
Is it true?
Is it right?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it admirable?
Is it praiseworthy?
If your answer is no, then drop that thing like it’s hot and you can’t hold it! And then pray, “God, I’m feeling this stress come in right now about ______. Stress is not from you and this thing is not true, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy. So I’m bringing my stress to you and asking you to trade it in for your peace. Help me change my focus to you, and not this thing.”
Time to change your focus from stress to peace, and trust God to be God in this situation and every other one.