Power to Cope
In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15 (KJV)
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
Psalm 56:3, 4 (KJV)
The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Four part guide for handling stress, using Biblical principles
Part IV - Making It Through
We're still living in a world of stress. Let us hope that we're able to take long walks each day while deliberately concentrating on thoughts of thankfulness. As we do this, we sense a power beyond ourselves strengthening us.
We know there is a supernatural battle going on for the control of our minds, but again we are deliberately choosing to let our God, who released us from the guilt of the past, drive back the satanic forces.
But, knowing all this for ourselves, how do we relate to the injustices going on around us? The stress comes pretty close when people at home, at work, or at school seem oblivious to our needs; when they seem to be unaware that their lives are causing nearly unbearable pressure on us. They may even be deliberately causing our stress!
Can God give us enough power through His promises to help us deal with situations that seem so unfair, that stir up all sorts of resentment and retaliation? Shouidn't there be some way to "get even"? And while we dwell on these thoughts, there goes our peace of mind! How do we get it back again?
We Need Love
First, it is perfectly natural to want appreciation and love. God placed that need within us. He, as the highest authority in the universe, looks at us right now and sees that need. He sees us as individuals - extremely valuable, lovable, and with tremendous potential for good. He Himself is prepared to fill that need with His love, and there is nothing that can separate us from this.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword ? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither feelings of angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39
Second, God is in charge of the universe. Nothing happens of which He is unaware. So come these questions: If He is so powerful, why does He allow injustice to go on? Where is fairness? When will people get what they really deserve? It' s stressful just thinking about it. Here is His answer:
No Need to Fret
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. . . . Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil. . . . But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. . . . But all sinners will be destroyed. . . . The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. Psalm 37:1, 2, 7, 8, 11, 38, 39
Third, God will not allow evil and injustice to continue forever. God is sovereign. People will bring punishment upon themselves in God's own timetable. He would prefer that everyone accept His mercy, but He will not force that choice.
We see evidence that His justice is blended with love and mercy: Look at the way He forgave you! Remember when you bowed before Him and let Him cover the record of your own "badness" - your guilt - with the covering of Christ's life and death on the cross? In comparison to His death, how relatively easy it was for you to confess the sins and mistakes of your past and thank Him for freedom from that guilt. His justice demanded the death penalty because you had broken His law of life. But in His mercy, He took the punishment in your place. When you realized this and accepted it, His forgiveness flowed over you, and you received His peace.
But other people are continually causing problems that affect you or those you love. You're not finding the capacity to forgive them or to deal with it, so peace of mind always seems elusive.
You Can Return
God has power for you to cope with your reactions to those around you. He knows you don't want those resentful feelings; they poison the spirit of thankfulness. So He invites you to do just what you did with your other problems: Come to Him as often as you need to for release, asking Him to give you forgiveness, strength and a right spirit.
David expressed his need this way:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10-12
God answered his prayer, as He will answer ours as often as we return to Him. (See 1 John 1:8, 9.) Daily, maybe hourly, invite God's Spirit to possess your mind, to give you Christ's forgiveness toward other people who are causing you stress. Only His Spirit in you can keep you from fretting over the injustices of others. His Spirit will give you power to forgive those who don't ask or deserve your forgiveness, because that is how God has loved and forgiven you.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
Free to Forgive
God loves and forgives us even when we don't love Him, and His Spirit in us frees us to give that same love and forgiveness to the mean and the unlovable around us. Only God can give the capacity to respond this way in a deeply stressful situation, even the one you may be in right now. God is in charge of the universe. The execution of justice is in His hands. He knows the peace we will find when we realize that it is not up to us to "get even" or administer punishment. He knows the joy to be found in appreciating the good qualities even in those who may at times be cruel. He not only loved and died for us, but He sent us His Holy Spirit so we could know this and cope with the world we live in now. Otherwise, the situation would be impossible and hopeless.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5
Here is the key: The power of the Holy Spirit causes us to love others as God has loved us; to suffer, knowing that good will come from it in some way, because God is in control. The Holy Spirit draws our minds to think of Jesus and His tremendous love for us; then we are able to trust Him:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28
Only those who have accepted forgiveness themselves are truly able to see that they are free by God's Spirit to forgive others. By the transforming power of God's Spirit a person is free to respect and appreciate the good in those who are causing stress while not in any way condoning the "bad" they do.
At the same time, the Bible tells us that people who resist God's love are cutting themselves off from life and bringing on their own eventual punishment. Rather than wanting to hurry up their punishment, we will feel sorry for their spiritual blindness because of God' s power working in us. God will use us to help them be drawn to Him. Can you imagine that happening? God can. He sees in us great potential as instruments of blessing to other people.
Power to Change
God's power to cope can actually change our very nature:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him. . . . He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:3, 4
As we unite with God and see His love meeting our own needs, we will be more aware of the needs of others.
Instead of being under the stress of trying to punish others, which is not our job, we are free to share God's power which relieves that stress. We can share the assurance that God is in control, and that no matter what the circumstance is, He can bring good from it when we allow His Spirit to rule our lives. As we do this, we will find that our own capacity to cope increases.
The Apostle Paul had a very stressful battle with a physical problem and shared these thoughts, which God gave him:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
When Strength Is Released
When we realize that we ourselves have no power to cope, we are much more inclined to ask for help, and it is then that God is able to release His help to us. Our acknowledgement that we are weak is an opening for God to give us His strength.
Paul chose God's strength, and we too have a choice to make. We can try to handle life's problems by ourselves, or we can accept the authority of a sovereign God who wants us to call Him Father, who wants to give us the gift of power to cope via His Holy Spirit. Our choice is to ask for it and thank Him for it:
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:13
No Disgrace to Ask
Those who would cope are in continual need of a power outside of, and beyond themselves. That's us. When we choose to yield to the complete control of the Holy Spirit, we will give our best affections to God and will be rewarded with more than enough enlightenment, strength and power. Enough to cope. Enough to share.
The choice is ours to make.
How do you choose?
Powerful Promises for a Free Spirit