Often we have little idea of the challenges others are facing in their lives. We may see the same people day after day but never realize that a marriage is on the verge of breaking up, or that they are trying to keep their children from dropping out of school, or that their parents need care.
The other day a friend of mine, a woman who runs a day-care center, was asked if she knew of an effective program that would help in dealing with intense stress. This question came from a parent of one of the children in day care.
My friend was surprised; this mother herself had always been a calming influence on others. She was unusually generous, active in her church, and always willing to help out, even though she had seven children under the age of twelve. But it turned out that her husband had recently lost his job. She could work only part time and was afraid about the future. She was also unhappy because she couldn't afford many of the things she felt were important for her family.
It might be instructive to look at that term stress management, and to consider its implications -- it's one thing to learn to manage stress, but it's quite another to begin learning how to live free of stress. For many people, managing stress means turning to drugs. Hyperactive children, people suffering from high blood pressure, and insomniacs often find themselves tied to daily medication. Others manage stress through herbal remedies, various relaxation techniques, even hypnotism. It doesn't take a lot of insight to see that, while these all attempt to cope with the symptoms, they don't do anything to eliminate the beliefs that cause stress, nor do they offer immunity from it. When was the last time you read an article in a popular magazine about immunity from stress? Some people would find that more unbelievable than alien kidnappings!
But turning to the Bible to the life of Christ Jesus, you will discover a man who was immune from stress. Despite many demands upon him, insistent crowds seeking his help, widespread misapprehension of his message, and aggressive, organized opposition to his work, there is no indication that Jesus was ever "stressed out." We find no hint of the physical or psychological troubles that have become so common today. Actually, this would involve a contradiction, for Jesus' whole life illustrated grace -- the grace of God. Apparently, Jesus never succumbed to stress because God's grace immunized him against it. And as the Christian's Exemplar, Jesus has set a standard that anyone can expect to follow.
The Gospel of John declares, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (1:17). Jesus maintained a sense of calm power and authority, which he received from God, his Father. Stress is what occurs when we forget that God's presence is constant and that His care is certain.
The acknowledgement and understanding of God's powerful presence can bring a deep, spiritual grace into your life. It enables you to see evidence of divine order. It awakens a conviction of spiritual security. It reminds you of God's constant help and care.
The demand here is to remember that God, divine Love, is in our midst. This is much more effective than taking a drug because it eliminates the causes of stress. You can replace a harried sense of being with a spiritual sense of being. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote, "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 209). Christian Science-the knowledge of what Jesus taught-reveals this inherent capacity. You have the God-given ability to eliminate stress and to feel the deep spiritual peace and assurance that come from an understanding of God.
Spiritual sense reveals the solutions to problems. It enabled Jesus to heal the sick and suffering. It will meet our needs, whatever they are, today, including the need for calm. No, managing stress is not enough. But expressing the grace of God is more than enough.