I’m trying to break myself of a bad habit I picked up as the current economic malaise came calling upon our company.   In response to the proverbial, “how are you?” greeting, I’ve taken to answering, “stressed but blessed”.  Sort of like positive self talk with a spiritual twist, I suppose.  Sounds better than, “it’s tough, but I’m gonna make it”, don’t you think?  Well, I thought so too until I read this from a book recently given to me by a thoughtful friend:

“God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in you so you could rely on Him.  He loves to impress this stressed-out world by moving one of His children into and a through stress-filled environment with perfect peace.  That’s His way.”  (The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life by Charles Stanley, p. 149)

Perfect peace?  Stressed but blessed?  As I read the above passage, it became clear that it had to be one or the other.  It couldn’t be both.  I realized that at its core, stress is nothing more or less than lack of faith.  Ouch!  Thank you, Lord, I needed that.

Contrast this to the Zimbabwean pastor I met on my mission trip to Africa last summer.  When asked how he was doing, Tatenda would always respond, “strong and blessed”.  The difference is quite convicting.  As I sit here comfortably ensconced in “Carmel by the Retention Pond”, Tatenda is fighting for the life of his family and the hundreds of AIDS orphans that he and his wife care for.  He’s strong…I’m stressed…thank God we’re both blessed.

Feeling more stressed than blessed this holiday season?  More than any other, the following Bible passage has helped me get through stressful times.  I hope it is a blessing to you as well:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

Have a blessed Christmas and a strong New Year!