Did the build-up and first few weeks of the newest COVID school year give you chest pains? Me too, Friend. Between house projects, yard projects, my husband’s job stress, losing internet for several days, school preparations, beginning vision therapy and a new reading program for my dyslexic daughter, foster child discipline issues, challenges with the kid’s soccer team, frustrations at using the public library amid COVID, upcoming medical procedures, and more, I felt stress overload! I seriously wanted to run away or go hideout for a couple weeks (or year). But just like with every other school year, things WILL improve. The preparation and first month of a school year is always stressful. But then we get back into the rhythm, and our days stabilize. We may ask God why He allows us to go through so many trials. Let’s open our Bibles and read 5 reasons behind the stress. Remember – God loves us and has a plan!
Five Promises to Remember
1. Trials Refine Us
Webster defines refinement as “the process of removing impurities or unwanted elements from a substance.”
What impure or unwanted elements are in us or our lives? Personally, I can say plenty! I struggle with impatience, pride, self-control, negativity, and the list goes on! What are you struggling with? Our trials, though painful, often reveal our true natures. And our true nature is filled with both strengths and weaknesses. But through the refinement process, we become stronger. Purer. Holier. More like Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)
10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Lately, I had been begging God to quit His refinement process – I argued that it was going to kill me! But God in His great wisdom may be using our trials to test us – are we up for the challenge?
God allowed Job to go through terrible trials (Job 1 – 42). But during the process, Job demonstrated a person of extraordinary faith, and greatly glorified God in the process. Oh Lord, please forgive my grumblings and help me to better glorify You during my trials!
2. We Will Gain Perseverance, Maturity and Completeness
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Experiencing trials can produce perseverance and eventually maturity and completeness. The journey to spiritual maturity is not pretty, but is so beneficial! Like with any endurance athlete, the work up to a long race can take several months or even years. So much necessary growth is gained during this training: discipline, endurance, work ethic, commitment, good health, confidence, learning about the sport and making friends in the community. Huddle together with those going through similar trials and cheer each other on to the finish line!
3. We Will Gain Eternal Life
Luke 21:16-19 (NIV)
16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Not everyone likes Jesus or His followers. And for that, God tells us we will be persecuted. But when we stand with Jesus, we gain eternal life with Jesus! As John 3:16 promises, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Bible also tells us about Jonah, who was tasked with the the job of telling the large city of Ninevah about God and warning them that if they did not repent soon, God would destroy their city (Jonah 1 – 4). Jonah did not think they deserved salvation, but through various miracles, God made it clear to Jonah that He greatly loved all of Ninevah’s 120,000 people and their animals, no matter their sins. What trials is God allowing you to go through so that more people in your circle would know Jesus? Oh Lord, may I count it all joy if it would bring more people to You!
4. Give your Stress to God!
Have stress? God’s burden is light (Matthew 11:30) – he tells us to let Him carry it! He also admonishes us for worrying – because it does nothing to solve our problems. It only hurts our health, relationships, and more! When I find myself anxious, I try to remind myself of these truths and just give them to the Lord. And when I do that, God fills me with peace! Only He can control and know the outcomes. After we have given our best, we have to hand the rest over to Jesus!
5. God Is on Our Side!
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
It may not always feel like it, but God is on your side! He loves you (John 3:16) and wants what’s best for you. I heard a great illustration given by Marci Seither on a Focus on the Family broadcast. There was a beautiful tree that the owners wanted to cut down and use to make an addition to their house. On the outside, it was large, beautiful, lush, and perfect. But when it was chopped down, it quickly became evident that the tree was not good for anything but firewood. This was because the tree had never had to struggle; there were no nearby trees to compete with, it had all the sun and water that it needed; the tree rings grew very far apart and made weak wood.
Our trials make us strong for the work God has called us to do. Each of us has callings, and they will all require hard things like sacrifice, dedication, and work ethic. Count it all joy that he is strengthening us so that we may fulfill our specific plans! We will face attacks by the evil one. Satan wants us all separated from God. Satan does not care for any one of us – he only wants to hurt God. So keep yourself armed with the full armor of God.
I know Satan does not want us to fulfill our purposes, like telling others about Jesus, or for us to foster children. During our weaker moments, he will convince us that some things are too hard. That some people are beyond forgiveness or love. Or maybe that we are beyond forgiveness and love. But the evil one is a great liar and deceiver! When we put on God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-18), we are fitted with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, the belt of truth, and our feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
With God at our side, we will persevere! God has given us a job to do – and with His love and patience we will not give up…one day at a time!
Six Practical Stress Busters
Here are some quick, effective ways to reduce your stress.
- Listen to peaceful music
- A quick YouTube search will give lots of options!
- Recruit a family member to give you a head rub, foot rub, or back rub!
- Find a quiet, dark spot, take deep breaths, and PRAY.
- This cannot be emphasized enough on how good prayer is to alleviate stress. Give it to the Lord. Pray without ceasing. He never tires hearing from you. We can do so little, while HE can do everything. Go to Him with your worries and watch Him replace it with peace. God is good and can be trusted!
- Go for a walk
- Reduce your workload
- Look for areas of your life that you can shed. A way for me is to do this is consider my clear callings from God. Then I start evaluating my calendar and commitments. Do I really need to attend 3 bible studies every month? Do I really need to help with everything at church or my homeschool group? Do I have to deep clean my house every week? Do I have to train for a race next month? Do my kids have to attend every activity? Does everything have to be made from scratch? Seek God and ask His direction in your life. When we over-commit ourselves, everything and everyone in our life pays the penalty.
- Are your kids and spouse doing everything they could be doing? If they are old enough, consider where they could pick up the slack. Perhaps they are old enough to help with more chores. Wash, fold, and put away laundry. Babysitting younger siblings. Bringing in groceries. Mowing the lawn. Taking out the trash. Cleaning after meals.
- You make the call on your spouse. If they are a spouse that already takes on a lot, praise the Lord! If they have room to grow, go to God in prayer on how to approach your spouse for help with the kids, house and any other responsibilities. I remember as a newlyweds, I assumed as the female I was supposed to do everything. Cook, clean, pay bills, wash laundry, as well as finish college and work at an internship. Needless to say, that didn’t last long before I had to talk it over with Sam and delegate some of the chores and responsibilities.
- If you have other family, friends, or neighbors offering to help, let them! Something I learned early on as a new Christian was the importance of allowing others to serve you. When a close friend would offer to help someone and the recipient would start to decline, our friend would say, “Don’t steal my joy!” If they truly want to help, consider their offer. Don’t let pride to get in the way!
When you feel stress, cling to God’s biblical promises. Go to Him in PRAYER! He loves us and has a plan. His trials are to refine us and make us more like Him. It gives us perseverance and maturity. Standing with Him gives us eternal life in Heaven. And he doesn’t ask you to do hard things alone! He wants to carry our burdens for us. Not only that, he will fight for you and equip you to stand firm against the evil one. With God, all things are possible! Despite the COVID mess, we CAN have a great school year. Let’s give it over to God and see the Way Maker do what He does best – perform miracles under any circumstance.
Edited by Allie Anson