By Chip Brogden
We live in a stressful world. All of us have difficulties, problems, challenges, and needs.
In spite of this, I have seen people overcome incredible odds and rise up over seemingly insurmountable challenges: the death of a loved one, or the loss of a business, or the failure of a marriage or a decline in health. They somehow get through it, pick up the pieces, and inspire others with their joy and determination.
I have seen other people have a complete breakdown over the very same things.
So I have come to realize that life is only 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you choose to respond to what happens. One man’s circumstances cause him to bless God, while another man’s identical circumstances cause him to curse God. One man loses his job and goes into depression; another man loses his job and starts his own business. Stress affects different people in different ways. But why is this?
Studies have shown the emotional and physical symptoms of stress are not caused by the event itself, but by how we perceive the event. Your perception of things becomes your reality. So if you “think” something is bad, you’ll react badly. If you “think” something is only a temporary challenge to overcome, then you will find a way to overcome it. Stress can be a negative or a positive force, depending on how we choose to interpret life. Apparently, things have no meaning until we attach a meaning to them. Once we decide what something means we give it the power to make us either bitter, or better.
I’m not suggesting that you can just trick your mind into thinking that bad things are really good, or that you can turn your life around with a little positive thinking. It’s not that simple. But Christians do have a very good reason to think about life challenges in a different way than the word does.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
Jesus knows the world is not conducive to peacefulness or stress-free living. There is a certain amount of difficulty we can expect simply because we live in a dangerous world with 6 billion other people.
The Bible does not promise anyone a world free from difficulties, challenges, trials and tribulations. At the same time, Jesus does not want His followers to be overwhelmed or stressed-out. I think this is an important thing to notice because it tells us something of God’s care and concern for us. He is concerned for our mental and emotional health, just as He is concerned for our spiritual and physical health. In addition to eternal life, He offers us peace of mind.
How then can we move toward stress-free living in a crazy world? We must accept the fact that life is difficult, and we must realize that in spite of these difficulties, Jesus offers us peace. Your circumstances will leave you either CHEER-full or FEAR-full. Ultimately, it all depends on how you choose to respond to God — and to life.