How to Relieve Stress in 3 Steps
Are you anxious and angry or rejoicing and at peace? Either way, here are some tips for Christlike living that work every time!
Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the last four years, you probably know 2020 is an important presidential election year in the United States. Most Americans, whether Democrat or Republican, are feeling stressed and angry, according to two polls conducted last year.
The first, by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, found 70 percent of Americans felt angry as the new year loomed, and 56 percent felt anxious.1 The second, by USA Today/Suffolk, found Americans are facing the upcoming election with one feeling in particular: dread.2
Bible-believing Christians are not immune to such feelings. I know because I often meet folks who feel this way; and from time to time, I feel this way myself. Yet I know Scripture commands us, “Be anxious for nothing,” and tells us to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). The Lord Jesus Himself told His followers not to worry about their daily needs or even their lives (Mt. 6:25).
Yet it’s easy to understand the apprehension. We’re in the midst of a cultural war for the very soul of America. Each of the key issues—immigration, religious liberty, healthcare, the right to bear arms, the national debt, abortion, gender-related rights, climate change, education—all push emotional buttons and create a “them vs. us” mentality.
For years, social media and news outlets have fueled both sides. For example, when it became apparent Donald Trump won the 2016 election, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow declared, “You’re awake. . . . You’re not having a terrible, terrible dream. Also, you’re not dead, and you haven’t gone to hell. This is your life now.”3
Fast-forward to March 2019. Conservative radio personality Glenn Beck appeared on FOX News and said, “We are officially at the end of the country as we know it” if the Republican Party loses the 2020 election.4
So, to those of you who are feeling anxious, stressed, pessimistic, or angry about this election—and you know as a believer you should not be—here’s what you can do.
Step One: Find a Dudley
Find people who have victory over these feelings. Watch them, and learn from them. See how they navigate life’s uncertainties; and notice their peace, calm, and joy. After all, as believers, we should evidence a sense of stability and hope, whatever our political persuasion.
Let me introduce you to two men I’ve learned from. Both are with the Lord now, but they were shining examples of how to handle the world around them and the political climate of their day.
I met the first man shortly after moving to Chicago in 1979. America was extremely stressed. Iran was holding 52 Americans hostage for what would stretch to 444 days.
Add to that problem the fact that interest rates had soared to 17 percent. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) slowed oil production in 1973, and the resulting shortages were making life difficult for many Americans.
But Dudley had known worse. Born in 1916, he survived the Depression and two world wars. He had seen plenty. Yet his face was never without a smile put there by Jesus. As a student of the Word, Dudley believed each new day was the day Jesus would rapture him home. He was ready every day, and he talked about it constantly.
He often attended a Bible study I taught. Dudley would make sure all the unbelievers there knew Jesus was coming again. He’d say things like, “I just can’t wait to see Him!” “Jesus is coming, and it might be today! Aren’t you excited?”
Dudley definitely was heavenly minded. He was “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). His joy made an impression on many people, one of them a young Jewish store owner who was amazed at Dudley’s simple yet profound faith. Eventually, the store owner and his wife came to know their Messiah because of Dudley’s testimony.
Dudley’s Christ-focused mindset never prevented him from enjoying a long career in sales, a wife, children, and grandchildren. If Dudley were here today, he’d be abreast of the latest news; but he wouldn’t stress about it. In fact, he would be excited to be living in these last days.
Step Two: Read the Right Books
I met the second man, Arno Gaebelein (1861–1945), through his writings. A self-taught scholar who even mastered Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, Gaebelein was a great Bible teacher, preacher, and writer. He was part of the team that produced the Scofield Reference Bible.
Like many of his generation, he faced difficult challenges and lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, and the rise of Communism. Yet, like few in any generation, his passion for Christ and Scripture drove him to focus on biblical studies.
At the core of his belief was the literal interpretation of God’s Word, which pointed him to the any-moment coming of Christ. Gaebelein also believed in a future for Israel, though he never saw it. In 1894, two years before Theodor Herzl produced his book The Jewish State, Gaebelein published a journal called Our Hope. Much like The Friends of Israel’s magazine, Israel My Glory, Gaebelein’s Our Hope concentrated on Christian Zionism, Jewish affairs, and prophecy.
In 1939 Hitler attacked Poland, setting World War II in motion. Gaebelein provided a heavenly perspective:
We look at the approaching storm precipitating all into an abyss of hopelessness. We look again and see a marvelous sunrise. The Morningstar appears, the herald of the Day and the Sun in all His glory. Even so Come, Thou Hope of the hopeless, Thou Hope of Israel, Thou Hope of the World, all Nations and Creation. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.5
Gaebelein viewed the world soberly, but his writing and preaching uplifted and encouraged. For him, every day was the day Christ might return; and he waited joyously.
If you’re anxious, read works by authors who know God’s Word, who know God’s power, and who know how to encourage their brethren in Christ to focus on God.
Step Three: Rejoice in God’s Sovereignty
God is in control. Hallelujah! He is the one who establishes leaders and removes them: “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1). The results of the election in November will not surprise God. He is sovereign.
God is the one who declares the end from the beginning:
. . . and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,” calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it (Isa. 46:10–11).
How can we not trust a God like that?
We also do well to remember that our inheritance is not on Earth but in heaven, “incorruptible and undefiled and . . .does not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:4).
I will vote in November, as I always do on Election Day. But I’ll be remembering the words to Norman J. Clayton’s wonderful hymn, “My Hope Is in the Lord.” I hope yours is in the Lord, as well.
- Kenneth T. Walsh, “Americans Angry and Anxious as 2020 Looms,” usnews.com, August 26, 2019 [tinyurl.com/y59m5vxt].
- Susan Page, Jason Lalljee, and Jeanine Santucci, “USA TODAY/Suffolk poll: Americans dread the 2020 election; Biden maintains his lead,” usatoday.com, August 28, 2019 [tinyurl.com/y49z63aj].
- Julia Glum, “The Moment Liberals Knew Trump Won,” newsweek.com, November 8, 2017 [tinyurl.com/yyaojqba].
- Joshua Caplan, “Glenn Beck: ‘We Are Officially at the End of the Country’ if Trump Loses 2020,” breitbart.com, March 19, 2019 [tinyurl.com/y2tvtytc].
- Timothy Demy, “The Brethren Writers Hall of Fame: A.C. Gaebelein” [newble.co.uk/writers/Gaebelein/biography.html].