Hardships and Trials, Resting in Christ, surrender

Peace in the Stress

I’m stressed—and I mean capital-S stressed. Do you feel me? Have you been there, too?

My to-do list overflows beyond anything I can comprehend. The days are blurring one into the next. I’m so frazzled. I can’t even remember what I need at the grocery store, let alone whether that event with my daughter is tonight or tomorrow (and I’ve checked my calendar four times today).

It’s enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. (Oh, wait—maybe that’s what this is!) Kidding. Sort of.

I started out this year with one word in my heart: Peace. We’re not even halfway through February and I feel like a hypocrite. Who carries on about peace in one’s heart when they’re so stressed and busy they don’t even know what day of the week it is?

Is it even possible to have peace when we are stressed out?

Good news: we can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad.

How? Because of Jesus.

We can have peace in the stress, in the crazy-busy, and even in the downright bad. How? Because of Jesus. Click To Tweet

This isn’t a platitude; it’s a perspective switch. I used to think I could weather storms by hanging on and “being strong.” Now I know there’s only one way I can make it through—by clinging to Jesus, who gives me true peace.

Every day we have a choice as to how we look at the world. Sometimes our view is near-sighted—all we can see are the details, the to-do list, the piddly (and not-so-piddly) concerns. Other times, we get a glimpse of the big picture, a “God’s eye” view. And that’s the key.

Even when we are caught up in the difficult daily details, such as a sick child or a looming deadline or a catastrophic phone call, Christians can trust there is a bigger plan at work—far bigger than what we are going through.

While my life might be out of control and stressful today, I choose to rest in an important truth: I am God’s daughter. I follow Jesus and have the Holy Spirit in my heart. That means His plan is my ultimate plan—even when I can’t see His plan.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV).

And in the Gospel of John, He says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. God’s master plan.

My daily life might be hard right now. But at the end of it all, it’s just a piece of God’s grand jigsaw puzzle. Click To Tweet

I can have peace even in the stress by reminding myself I am His. I serve a mighty, mighty God of heaven and earth and everything else in the universe. His way is the priority. When I can step outside myself and allow myself to know and trust this, I have true rest.

When I can step outside myself and trust I belong to Jesus, I have true rest. Click To Tweet

Do you have trouble coping with stress? How do you handle this?

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An Untapped Way to Worship

I’m convinced exercise is the most underrated way we can tap into worshipping God.

woman's feet, walking
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Some of you just decided to quit reading but hear me out.

Have you seen superstar country singer Carrie Underwood’s latest commercial for her athletic clothing brand, Calia? In it, she talks about putting herself first when it comes to exercise then feeling guilty when she takes the time to get a workout in but also when she doesn’t train. Though, ultimately, she’s decided to stay committed to her fitness journey. (Search #StaythePath and #FindYourPath to see this campaign.)

Now, trust me, I look nothing like Mrs. Underwood, but her sentiments resonate because I am also an avid exerciser. My workouts have changed over the years in accordance to body limitations, injuries, and time, but the constant is that I always follow some form of exercise routine five to six days a week. And honestly, I’m as addicted to it as I am Oreos which is saying a lot (and yet another reason I exercise).

Why has it developed into something I will not sacrifice in my schedule?

Because it’s become mine and God’s time.Why has it developed into something I will not sacrifice in my schedule? Because it’s become mine and God’s time. Click To Tweet Going for a run excites me because it’s such a valuable period of prayer and worship. I’m able to retreat to nature with my favorite worship music and draw close to Him in a way I can’t as easily at home when the chores beg to be done, or my computer calls me to write just a few more pages. The days I go to the gym are different but still worship as I better my body and mind in a Pilates class or pray while on the stationary bike.

In fact, I’m confident I’d be a monster without two things on a daily repeat. Connecting with God and exercise. Really! No one would want to be around me because my stress and anxiety levels would be astronomical, and I’d become a complainer and naysayer. I also know my personality leans toward irritation and impatience but with time have seen the discipline of exercise helps to alleviate impulsive reactions when I come up against things that annoy me.

So, not only can exercise provide stress relief and precious moments spent with God, it also helps us better our physical health.Not only can exercise relieve stress and become precious time spent with God, it also helps us better care for our bodies. Click To Tweet 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The benefits of regular exercise outweigh the pain. And once your routine becomes a habit, it may become a healthy addiction. With that, you may find yourself pushing through the uncomfortable just to get the workout in.

You were bought at a price

So where can you start? I’m convinced anyone going from no exercise to simply walking (as fast as you can) or riding a stationary bike at least thirty minutes a day five times a week will see their health improve. Start there. Get outside to check out His beautiful nature if possible. But do something. Use it as a prayer time. Sing along to gospel music. Listen to a podcast from your favorite pastor, presenter, or Bible teacher. Just take time to honor God in mind, body, and spirit.

A lady, easily in her eighties, runs in my neighborhood. Whenever I pass her, I can’t help but think, “Go girl!” I want to be just like her—maybe not running at that age—but getting outside hiking, walking, or working my garden. Getting my heart rate up, challenging my muscles and expanding my lungs, all the while tapping into the worship that can happen while doing it. Imagine me rooting you on, saying, “Go girl!”

Let’s talk about this! Where can you start in using exercise as a time of reverence for God? Do you already? If so, what are some tricks you’ve used to keep it up?

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Also, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, available for free on the YouVersion Bible Reading App:

Grace Reading Plan ImageChrist’s grace has the power to change everything. We don’t have to strive, to compete, or compare, or question whether or not we measure up. We’re enough because Christ in us is enough. The cross of Christ sets us free.

Find it HERE.