New Year’s Resolution: Less Stress in 2018

By Dan Jackson, Atherton Resident since 2016

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall make your paths straight.

Questions for reflection and application:

  • How much stress do I feel as I face the year ahead?
  • Are there areas in my life where stress has replaced trust?

Thought for today:

We have just come through what for many is the most stressful season of the year. In fact, for some it expands to cover the last days of an old year and the beginning of a new one. The review of the old year may hold many regrets, and the challenge of setting goals for a new year can be distressing. Sometimes I feel like I’m “all stressed up with no place to go.” We all get stressed out from time to time. But help is available! Look at the verbs in Proverbs 3:5-6. They teach us how to stifle stress. The first three are commands. The last verb is a promise telling us what God will do as we do the first three.

First, we must trust in the Lord. If a stranger asks me to do something for him, I would ask, “What is it you want me to do?” If my wife, Nelda, asks me to do something for her, my response is more likely to be, “Sure, honey, what is it?” I know her very well and know she would never ask me to do anything to harm or embarrass me. I trust her totally. If you sense a need to trust more fully, get to know Jesus better. You get to know him just as you get to know anyone—by spending time with him. When we trust the Lord, he promises, “Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1). Stress levels may indicate how well we know-the Lord. Stress is like the red warning lights on the dash of a car. They come on because something is wrong! When we are all stressed-out, something is wrong and we have stopped trusting him. Stifling stress requires we trust in the Lord.

Second, we must lean not on our own understanding. This means we are not to rely on ourselves without including God. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” This warns against pride. Pride leaves God out of our decisions and lives. “Ego” is an acronym for “edging God out.” Stifling stress requires we trust in the Lord, not counting on ourselves alone.

Third, we must acknowledge the Lord. We should recognize or remember God in every path we take. We acknowledge him when discouraged, hurt, depressed, or disappointed. It means we can experience the Lord’s strength. Proverbs 18:10 tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.”

Fourth, he directs our paths. Life has its switchbacks, rocky roads, and deep potholes. When we rely on the Lord, he guides us to avoid many of the obstacles and to have smooth travel. This doesn’t mean life will be easy, but that we will have everything we need along the way. God leads through many ways, and as we follow, we can be confident that our stress is washed away by His care and abiding presence.