Triumphant Life Ministries Newsletter              Vol. 6, No. 1                    May, 1990

 

OVERCOMING THE STRESS OF WORRY

Many people who become clinically depressed by stress practiced chronic worry before the stress occurred.  The worry made them more vulnerable to depression and less able to face stress without losing their health.

The apostles were very familiar with dangerous stresses.  From the scriptural accounts of their ministries, they were apparently able to withstand such stresses without becoming mentally ill.  Peter and the apostles had been imprisoned by the high priest for evangelizing and healing, and were freed by an angel of the Lord.  They then began teaching the people in the temple (Acts chapter 5).  Soon afterward, they were brought before the Sanhedrin, where members plotted to kill them.  Gamaliel, the great theologian who had taught Paul stood up and said to them (Acts 5:38-39, NASV):  ďAnd now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing, 39but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow itólest you even be found to fight against God.Ē  Though they were beaten, the apostles were released and continued their very successful ministry.

A common type of stress is anxiety or fear that a desired situation or objective will not occur or be accomplished.  Many live in fear of failure, which is so intense that they avoid trying things which they possess the ability to do.  Worries about the future rob people of peace and cause chronic anxiety.  Fear or anxiety can usually be traced to some attitude, which is a statement made to oneself.  Failure to acknowledge and trust Godís power and control of the future commonly causes anxiety.  Worry can be considered a magical attempt to mentally control the future.

The wise words of Gamaliel can be very useful today in reducing this kind of stress.  Gamalielís statement could be summarized thus:  Whenever you are tempted with worry or fear of the future, remember that God is in control.  Merely do what is reasonable on your part.  If God has ordained that you are to be successful in a certain area, no one can stop you.  If he has ordained that you will not accomplish the objective you have chosen, He will soon make that clear and lead you to a new direction which He knows would be better for you.

This approach to the stress of worry is an example of the power of attitudes to affect health.  The Bible teaches that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)!  Decide daily to completely trust God, His power, love, and concern for your future.  This can decisively destroy fear, anxiety, and depression.  This practical application of the Christian life provides a mental distraction from negative attitudes.  Negative mental habits are most effectively overcome by replacing them with positive, realistic attitudes such as those recommended by the Bible.  Your ability to tolerate stress can thus be greatly increased.

 

 Joseph Luke Palotta, M.D.

Christian Psychiatrist

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