Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

4 Biblical Steps to Turn a Stressful Day Around

It was a draining day; the kind when you have something looming over you, just waiting for you to get home. My stressful day almost ruined an incredible opportunity. Almost.

Photo Credit: Gudbjörn Valgeirsson

Photo Credit: Gudbjörn Valgeirsson

In this case, it was an evening phone conference, and I was a presenter. Let me tell you two things about myself:

  1. I hate phone calls
  2. Public speaking = adrenaline

To make it worse, my wife woke up sick, I took her car in for all-day maintenance, and I didn’t get a ton of work done. By all accounts, this was not my best day ever.

Coming home from work, I decided to pray. A friend on Facebook offered free prayers, so I accepted. My wife volunteered to pray for me. Finally, I got on my knees and talked with God about the stressful day.

Before getting on the phone conference, I picked up my wife’s car. I went in expecting bad news, but God had something else in mind.

The manager at the counter asked me how my day was, which led to me sharing about where I work and what I do.

The conversation turned, and suddenly we were talking about knowing Jesus and the Gospel. What’s more, I discovered this manager was a missionary kid, and we both talked about Jesus to his employee-in-training for a solid 15 minutes.

From that point on, my anxiety was gone. I was so excited to talk on the phone about God because I had tangibly seen Him work that night.

How to Turn Your Stressful Day Around

As a speaker at my college chapel once said, “If this message today doesn’t apply to you, tuck it away, because someday soon it will!”

When (not if) you face terrible days, I recognize four steps I took to turn it all around.

1. I acknowledged my stress.

There’s a freedom in honestly admitting our heart has a problem. It’s sort of like exposing a wound—because it’s hard to treat a covered wound.

2. I asked for help and received help.

Pride and fear keep us from asking for help. Excuses divert; asking directs. I reached out to a friend via Facebook, and I received my wife’s prayers for me. If you’re too prideful to ask or receive help, then go back to step 1.

3. I took the time to get right with God.

Stress problems are usually heart problems. In my case, I held onto fear and the illusion of control. What I needed—even more than support from others—was to get my heart right with God.

I prayed through Philippians 4:6-7,

  1. Don’t be anxious about anything.
  2. By prayer and supplication,
  3. With thanksgiving,
  4. Let your requests be made known to God.
  5. His peace will rule in your life.

This passage isn’t a formula—but it is a promise. When I confessed, prayed, and gave thanks, suddenly my prayer requests didn’t seem big. Why? Because God seemed bigger.

4. I saw present opportunity.

A friend once told me, “Don’t let past failures distract you from present opportunities from God.” We can get so caught up in our past failures that we miss the opportunities God puts in our paths.

Just to be clear, I didn’t bust through the doors of the auto shop preaching the Gospel—I also didn’t come in with stress on my back. I came in burden-free, and I left filled with joy.

So what about you? When you encounter stressful situations, how to you restore your spiritual equilibrium? What else keeps us from finding resolution, and how can we overcome? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

  • Chris Hanson

    Thank you for this reminder. I will keep this in the back of my mind. I agree, God gives a promise in that part of Philippians.
    When I have terrible days, I tend to do two things: first, I seek time with close friends who will listen to me vent. I know I can rely on them to point out the fear and lack of trust underlying my stress and anxiety. Second, I do my best to make time for a creative outlet, even if it is only fifteen minutes. I play my guitar, write in my journal, draw, go for a run… anything which will help me remember my life is more than the stress I feel. This helps me give up control: I spend time doing something other than trying to alleviate the stress, which reminds me God is big enough to handle the load I am carrying.
    I love that surrounding Philippians 4:6-7 is an entire letter about joy. What a great reminder for us to see God as powerful and loving in the midst of stressful days.
    Again, thank you for this post.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Chris. I appreciate it.

      Both of your points are great ways to refocus our minds. And there I think is the key—refocusing our attention from our problems to see the big picture. Friends help with that, and I know personally for me that writing is a huge outlet for sorting out my thoughts. As Paul writes, giving thanks is a simple but profound way to see God’s goodness in the middle of our stress.

  • We are all fragile aren’t we! Feeling somewhat jaded today so your advice is timely Camden. One other thing that can help me is …. just slow it down. I find I am occupied every waking minute and tat cant be healthy. Thanks!

    • Good word, Chris. Taking a break from whatever is stressing us usually helps to separate us from the problem. I find this really helpful if I’m thinking about how to reply to criticism or have a hard conversation.