The last few weeks have been unusually busy for me. Excessive busyness produces stress. We all have twenty-four hours in a day in which to accomplish all our tasks, enjoy relationships, and catch a little sleep. Sometimes life demands too much of our time and energy. So, I was glad for a reminder of God’s plan for stress management. An incident in King David’s life shows how he was able to avoid stress using one simple, easy to follow, technique that you can do in your own home (as they say in the best advertisements).
Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. Then David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me like the breakthrough of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim. They abandoned their idols there, so David and his men carried them away. (2 Sam. 5:18-21)
Faced with a Philistine invasion, David could have done any one of several things. One option was retreat, but that would have been out of character for David. Another was to muster his troops and surge out against the Philistine army, giving everything he had to the battle. David was no coward, and he was used to hard-won victories. My gut response to an overloaded work schedule is the equivalent of all-out war. I cancel superfluous activities and knuckle down to long days of wrestling my “to do” list back to normal size. It eventually works, but it leaves me stressed and grumpy.
That’s not what King David did, though. David asked God whether his gut instinct was correct—should he counter-attack, and would God help him?
God’s plan for stress management in our lives requires us to submit our agendas and schedules to Him. Apart from keeping us from bad decisions, asking God is an act of humility. God smiles on humility. Skipping a simple prayer for guidance because we think we are too busy to pray boils down to pride. We assume our quick thinking and hard work are effective on their own and that prayer is a waste of time.
But prayer is conversation with God. In prayer, He shows us what not to do, as well as what to do. Listening to Him helps us avoid taking on tasks that He does not intend us to do, tasks that will overload us. On the other hand, when God calls us to do something or confirms our own plans, He guides us in the best way to do it. We are less likely to become stressed because He equips and empowers us. After the battle, David said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies.” Victory did not depend on David’s strength; the Lord accomplished the victory.
Some of us prefer getting the credit for our accomplishments and we think that involving God somehow disqualifies us from that reward. How silly, isn’t living life effectively in relationship with God an accomplishment in its own right? I don’t know about you but I plan on using God’s stress management technique.
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