Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! (New Living Translation)
The body knows the truth of what is happening in the spirit. Our physical selves carry the weight of our mental thoughts and emotional feelings.
Our bodies have their way of making sounds of protest and pain if our spirits are silent. For example, physical weariness and tiredness can be a lighthouse, alerting us to pay attention to our inner suffering.
In other words, stated positively, pain and stress are a gift.
What is stress?
Stress is any type of change that causes physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual strain. Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures. However, stress can become unhealthy when it upsets our daily functioning and ability to live well. Stress itself is neither good nor bad. The issue is the appropriate amount of tension we need to live a healthy life.
Where do you typically carry stress in your body?
Whenever we are under a great deal of stress – and are having difficulty either recognizing it or managing it – the body gives us clues about how to pay attention to that stress. Our mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual issues usually show up in the body as physical problems.
Why do individuals handle stress differently?
The combination of past trauma, abuse, and neglect within families and communities is unique to the individual – as well as variations in personality traits and inherited genetics. In other words, how we deal with stress is a result of both nature and nurture.
What are some common connections between stress and the body?
- Shoulders: Feeling overwhelmed through carrying the weight of the world’s problems.
- Gut (stomach and intestines): Feeling anxious for not letting go of a problem.
- Vomiting or diarrhea: Feeling emotionally sick about a situation and wanting to be rid of it once and for all.
- Hemorrhoids or constipation: Straining or working very hard to make something happen in your life and it doesn’t come to pass.
- Headache: Feeling afraid through overthinking that something bad will happen.
- Chest/heart: Feeling angry or sad through either trauma or secondary trauma.
- Lungs: Feeling suffocated, like you cannot breathe, because of difficult circumstances, e.g. asthma
- Spine/knees/hips: Feeling discouraged and wanting to give up because you cannot take one more step.
How can I deal with my stress in a healthy way?
- Let go. Ask for help. Talk to God, as well as a friend, faith leader, or other about why you are stressed.
- Reach out. Connect with family members. Get involved in a faith community. Volunteer in an organization you care about.
- Eat well. Make healthy choices about food. Find someone or a group of people who share your nutrition goals.
- Meditate. Focus on the present moment because there is only now. Read Scripture. Pray.
- Walk. Take daily strolls through nature. Walk the dog. Walk with a friend. Walk with the Lord.
- Read. Read or listen to a good book. Do it with a cup of coffee or tea.
“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”Andrew Bernstein
The psalmist went on to release his silence and give voice to his spiritual stress and emotional pain, thus finding relief.
Who is the stress reliever?
God. The Lord is akin to a mother hen who protects her chicks.
My youngest daughter once had a pet chicken named “Gina” (I have no idea why she named the chicken this). Gina would lay an egg or two and keep them warm and nestled underneath herself. Indeed, the eggs were in a special hiding place, protected from outside forces.
My daughter also sang to Gina (which helped her to lay more eggs) and made sure she had plenty of space to find grubs, worms, shrews, and other delectables from the ground. Gina wasn’t the only pet chicken; there were others, too. Chickens are very social and require other chickens to be happy; a solitary hen is likely to not lay any eggs, at all.
Whenever we are “chicken” and run about with anxiety and fear, God gathers us together with other believers, protects us from trouble, surrounds us with songs of deliverance, and makes sure we have everything we need for life and godliness in this present age.
The Lord will take care of us – no matter the situation, the stress, or the pain it produces.
Blessed heavenly Father and Mother Hen, your Divine presence, power, provision, and protection gives us grace and truth. May this season of Lent – a time of repentance and faith – bring us the blessing of your forgiveness and the joy of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.