Coping with stress

1 Samuel 22:2 says, "And everyone that was in distress and everyone that was in debt and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men."

2 Samuel 23:8 says, "These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time."

While David was fleeing from Saul (1 Samuel 22), the people that followed him were stressed having a difficult time with issues that they were facing. However, David turned these men into "mighty men" of valor (2 Samuel 23:8).

Increased stress in our lives can adversely affect us in two ways.

4Emotionally, we are unable to deal with our past and the future seems hopeless.

4Physically our bodies will emit increased amounts of stress hormones that can negatively affect our health.

How can we cope with stress? Before I begin, let me give you some things that can cause problems.

4The things we can't change. If I focus on this, my stress level will increase. There are some problems in life that may never improve reality.

Please note: No one ever reaches perfection in this life and what does perfectionism breed? Self-criticalness which produces self-hate, negativity, insecurity and defensiveness (This is what produces a critical spirit.)

4The things we can change but don't. People for the most part fear change; we are folks of habit and tradition. Consequently when change is needed, we avoid the issue and our stress levels increase.

How did David deal with stress and encourage others?

4He placed God first in his life. 2 Samuel 22:2 says, "And he said, the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer." Where is God in your life?

4He kept the ways of the Lord. 2 Samuel 22:22 says, "For I have kept the ways of the Lord." When stressed, keep the ways of God.

4He ran. 2 Samuel 22:30 says, "For by thee I have run" David did not lose his momentum, but did his best at all times.

4He pursued his enemies. 2 Samuel says, "I have pursued my enemies" Instead of blaming attack your problem that is causing you defeat. (Fight sin, not people)

Why do people turn to inappropriate behaviors when stressed? I believe it is for security. David had to teach his men new ways to cope with their stress; otherwise, they would have repeated the same improper behavior they experienced or witnessed.

Why do folks yell and scream in the home? They are following the example that dad and mom set while they were growing up; and therefore, an improper way to handle stress was ingrained in their minds.

4He gave thanks and praised the Lord. 2 Samuel 22:50 says, "Therefore, I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen and I will sing praises unto thy name." What's the opposite of giving thanks? Someone that is critical and constantly complaining.

Let me give you some additional thoughts on how to overcome stress.

4Start your day off right. Begin your day with prayer and Bible reading. Research shows that people who apply this philosophy to their lives have a better day.

4Have a bending personality. Have convictions but when it comes to preferences, be flexible.

4Learn to laugh. The Bible says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Studies show that one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes of exercise.

4Listen to good Christian music. Monash University found that music can affect stress levels.

4Use stress as a change agent. In John 4, the Bible says Jesus rested because he was weary. Do you need a break? Then let the stress in your life cause you to adapt, switch gears, and be more productive for God.

Are you stressed beyond normal limits? It takes on an average a person three years to realize that he has increased stress. If we wait that long before any intervention is made who will suffer? Our loved ones, usually.

The Bible says David had some mighty men of valor with him before his death, but where did they come from? The same men who were distressed in 2 Samuel 22:2

Some things may never change: an illness, marital problems, a relationship, financial difficulties or some other personal issue. However, God can help us minimize our stress levels.

(Rob Hranicky is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church of Sligo.)