School has always been a very big part of my life. I have always been at the top of the class, always well prepared, always pushing myself to be better than anyone; However, going to University was a whole different ball game for me. Most the time I felt inferior in all my classes, the workload was completely impossible to keep up
with, and then all of a sudden I had to live by myself. For the first time in my life, I was actually facing “real-life stress” as my friends and I would call it. Stress that was a day-to-day, like “I should probably eat” or “maybe I should try to keep healthy”. Mixed with the “I forgot I have a midterm tomorrow” and “that chapter is actually 57 pages long” school stress. Stress was a very very common word in our lives as students, and as it is in all adults life.
As Christians, we are often encouraged to put away our stress, and instead to trust. Stress is a natural part of our lives, but the way we handle it can bring us either much closer or much further away from God. One day when I was encountering some really bad stress, God brought me to Psalm 43 and taught me six very important lessons.
1Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
1) It is okay to tell God your problems, and ask for His help.
David is addressing God in complete turmoil right now, and crying out for His help. God is the great comforter. He does not just listen, but wants to hear about your problems. It is okay to give God your uncensored self. We serve a God who has broad shoulders, He can take it. This is not a “hall pass” to challenge God, but is more of an invitation to be completely real with Him.
In my situation, this was just telling God about how in over my head I was in school and trying to live without my family.
2) It is okay to ask God where He is in your situation.
There are times in our lives stress can choke out the feeling of God’s presence, but never God himself. Verse 2 shows us that we can come humbly before our Father and ask Him to explain what is happening, because sometimes we won’t understand His ways.
I was having a hard time connecting with God, because my “to do” list would always weigh on me when trying to spend time with Him. I had to be real with God and ask Him where He was and for Help to make our relationship better, because I honestly didn’t want to make time for Him.
3) Though stress, we must seek God’s will and word to overcome our situations.
David asks God to lead him through his challenges. Now, this sounds nice, it sounds like the good Christian thing to do… but this is offering ourselves to God in total surrender despite what may come. This part is very hard and very scary to me. This is where we trust God with whatever His plan may be, not our own.
My sin laid in pushing God aside when I was stressed. To try and correct this I had to place him completely in the middle, put him first in my life, and seek His will. This was incredibly hard for me because I had to try and lay down the idol of good grades, and striving for perfection.
4) Find joy in the stress.
We can reflect on all the times in our past to where God has lead us through trials. Be glad that your good Father has total control over your situation. Have an attitude of gratitude.
For me this was being grateful that as a woman, I was able to attend school, a privilege very few woman over the course of history and the present day can say.
5) Preach to your soul.
In stress, I often read my Bible, prayed, and did all the things I should have done. Yet sometimes it just didn’t cut it! David actually “preaches” to his soul in this Psalm. Sometimes you just need to sit yourself down and declare that things will be okay because God is above it all! Sometimes you just need to tell yourself that God has got this, He is faithful, and He is good.
Stress is a lot to carry on our shoulders. But God allows us to have stress, so that we may “take it off” and lay it at the bottom of the cross. We need to be able to find rest in His grace, love, truth, and mercy. It is essential to rest your mind, body, and soul, and the only way that I know that this is possible is if we rest in Him.
Stress can arise not out of a lack of faith, but as a test of faith.