I’ve just returned from a personal retreat in Wales two weeks ago and it’s been a life-changing and mountain-top experience for me. As Singaporeans, our quality of life has never been better, yet stress has never been more epidemic.
When I refer to stress here, I’m talking about “bad stress”. Bad stress can also be termed as distress, and manifests itself in chronic or ongoing distress that begins to hinder your everyday life and stops you from completing tasks that you need to undertake. This particular type of stress, if not relieved, can be extremely detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Man was simply not fashioned to carry pressures, stress, anxieties, and worries; which is why the body breaks down when it undergoes these negative influences for too long. We may be able to manage it for a while, but eventually the physical body and mind will begin to collapse under this type of perpetual pressure. In fact, the medical world has confirmed that the major cause of sickness in the Western Hemisphere is stress and pressure. The World Health Organization calculates that depression is on the way to becoming the world’s second-most disabling disease in the next decade.
As sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father gives us this assuring promise in 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP), “Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” The word “casting” used in 1 Peter 5:7 was the Greek word “epiripto”, a compound of the words “epi” and “ripto”. The word “epi” means “upon, as on top of something.” The word “ripto” means “to hurl, to throw, or to cast, and it often means to violently throw or to fling something with great force.” Because of the Greek words used in 1 Peter 5:7, this verse carries the following idea:
“Take that heavy burden, difficulty, or challenge you’re carrying – the one that has arisen due to circumstances that have created hardship and struggles in your life – and fling those worries and anxieties over onto the back of the Lord! Let Him carry them for you. The Lord is extremely interested in every facet of your life and is genuinely concerned about your welfare.” – Rick Renner, “Sparkling Gems from the Greek”
Finally, I want to present you with a few practical solutions in overcoming stress, taken from the book “The Virgin Eye: Towards a Contemplative View of Life” written by Robin Daniels. This book was given to me as a gift by Pastor Roy Godwin, during my visit to Ffald y Brenin. I can’t put the book down, even as I’m fighting to maintain the rhythm of prayer and peace of mind back in Singapore. Hope these keys will help and bless you too. Take a deep breath as you read this slowly:
What will fundamentally ease the strain of all this restlessness? No cure for a stressful and hectic lifestyle is more efficacious than prayer. Ring-fence time for yourself every day to retire within.
The second antidote to stress is the healing effect of nature. Closeness to nature can profoundly affect our pace, our view of time, our expectations, and even our endurance of pain or difficulty. Are we listening to her personal messages? Love of nature and respect for the environment gives us a sense of belonging.
3. Finding Your Vocation
The third solution (which flows from prayer) is to find your vocation. The true bottom line is not how much I earn, but the quality and range of my life – inner and outer. No sum of money can compensate, no level of prestige can ever begin to satisfy, if you’re not doing your life’s creative fulfilling wish: not what the marketplace necessarily prizes, but what’s authentically yours, true to your own voice and vision. Be mindful of God’s hope in you. Yours is a corner of His Kingdom which can be filled only by you.
To find our destined direction (at least for this stage of our life), we need to listen deeply to every prompting from our psyche, and read (using our peripheral vision) the symbols – of dreams and our surroundings – that keep speaking to us. When you’re faithful to your God-givenness; when you think, work, speak, behave and love, with and from your integrity, then every project and relationship is infused with power, drive and stamina far stronger than your own. Service and vocational work are His holy love made visible and tangible.
What or who do you ache for? Do you dare to seek what your heart longs for?