Rocks on the path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Can you remember?

How do you handle stress? Stress is something everyone will eventually experience, and that’s probably a good thing. There can be good stress. Good stress is the stress that urges you to do better, to improve yourself, to keep growing. And that kind of stress helps you become a better employee, a better friend, a better person.

But bad stress seems more prevalent in everyone’s lives, at least it screams the loudest. So you’d think we’d want to manage good stress and avoid bad stress in our lives, right? Well, ideally, that would work, but this is real life. And stress is everywhere. Yes, it’s a choice for us to let it control our lives, but most of the time it will come upon us before we even realize it has us.

You can’t avoid stress. But you can change the way you react to it.

Rocks on the path at Glen Eyrie - Colorado Springs, CO

Rocks on the path at Glen Eyrie – Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s passage is Isaiah 43:1-7 (the Message):

But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
    I’ll round up all your scattered children,
    pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
    ‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
    my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
    every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
    yes, personally formed and made each one.’”

I don’t usually post only from the Message version, but this passage just has such wonderful ways of talking about difficult issues in life. Reading over it again, there isn’t any practical application for how to deal with stress, but there is a very important point:

Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

Do you get that? Sometimes I forget. It’s so easy for me to get overwhelmed with everything I have to do in my life, especially this time of year. And when I get overwhelmed with life, I forget who I belong to. God paid a price for me. In accepting the salvation He offers (to everyone), I have freely chosen to give my life to Him. So it doesn’t belong to me anymore.

I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

For Him to say this? I’m not worth that much. Just think about what God paid to have a relationship with you. It’s amazing. And I struggle with buying birthday gifts for people I love? Look at what God has done. Look at what He gave just to be able to have a conversation with me.

He’s God. And He loves us. How can we understand that? I’m not sure we can. Because you can say “I love you” over and over and over again and not really mean it, not really think about what it means, not really understand the weight of it. But when you back it up with action, when you show love, that’s different.

So I suppose the question isn’t how you deal with stress. It’s can you remember how much God loves you? And can you remember what He’s promised to do for you when you’re struggling with life?

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.

Only God can make a promise like that. So if you’re in over your head today, remember you’re not alone. If you’re struggling to stay afloat in the circumstances life has thrown at you, remember that God won’t let you sink. And if you’ve finally reached the place where you can’t fall any farther, you still have somewhere to go. If you believe in Christ, God won’t ever give up on you, and He won’t ever let you go.

Maybe there’s a practical application to deal with stress, but the first step is remembering what God has promised you. The rest will fall into place.

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