For most of us, we are going though one of most, if not the most, crazy, disruptive times of our entire lives. Our jobs, homes, schools and families are hanging in limbo, suspended in uncertainty. What are we to do?
Have you lost sleep worrying about what could happen? Has worrying and stress about these uncertain times interrupted your life? Your day? Your family? Your mood?
If you answered “yes”, rest assured you’re not alone.
Worry and stress happen to all of us, particularly when it comes to events, people, and things that are important to us. The trouble with worry is it is a complete waste of our valuable time and energy. We all know that… yet we still worry.
“Worry is the advanced interest we pay on troubles that seldom come.”
Worry and stress are huge risks we face. And they’re not healthy. The list of damage that worry can do, because of the biology of stress, is long and scary.
Worry (feeling threatened to any degree) is stress. It sets off a fight or flight survival response, which triggers all sorts of physiological changes in our bodies. The systems more important for immediate survival, like blood pressure and heart rate to circulate more energy throughout the body, get turned up, and the ones not so important for immediate survival, like our immune system or digestion, get turned down.
- Persistently elevated blood pressure and heart rate raises your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- A depressed immune system makes it harder for your body to fight off all sorts of diseases, or battle them once you do get sick.
- Stress reduces the protective fluids in the lining of the digestive system exacerbating the risk and severity of ulcers and other digestive disorders.
- Stress changes blood chemistry, and if persistent, those changes raise your risk of diabetes.
- Those chemistry changes are also why chronic stress is associated with greater likelihood of clinical depression.
- Chronic stress impairs the formation of new fast-growing cells, like bone, and hair.
- Chronic stress reduces your ability to form some new memories, and recall others.
Consider the following words from the apostle Paul, who was writing under very difficult circumstances. He was under house arrest. There was the possibility that he might be acquitted, or he might be beheaded. He didn’t know what his future held. Yet he gave us some of the most inspiring words found in scripture: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:4-6).
Paul wasn’t sitting in some plush resort, writing motivational texts. He was not lounging on some beach, sampling delicious foods and wines. This was a man who was incarcerated, waiting on a verdict that could literally mean life or death. Yet he was somehow able to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”
“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
Many of us have been experiencing some pretty significant physical, emotional and spiritual challenges the past few weeks.
In Psalm 23, David speaks of how God is with us, even when we go through trials or valleys in our lives: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.
Like Paul, David was no stranger to calamity and hardship. This was a man who knew what it was like to suffer. He knew what it was like to face difficulties. He had been hunted like a wild animal by King Saul, even after being anointed as the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel.
When David brings us this and other psalms, he candidly speaks of his own shortcomings, weaknesses, and questions he faced in life. Psalm 23 came from a man who knew what it was like to need God’s help.
We all go through those valleys in life, those hard times. Whatever valley it is, remember this: You are not alone. That is God’s great promise to the believer.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
The next time you are gripped by fear and worry, the next time you start thinking, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” turn it into a prayer. Look to Jesus and trust Him give you His peace.