Stressed Out? Give Thanks.

stressed-out-woman_2There is no doubt we live in a stress-filled society. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association showed 77% of the people surveyed regularly experienced physical symptoms caused by stress, 73% regularly experienced psychological symptoms caused by stress and 48% feel their stress has increased over the past five years. Annual costs to employers in stress related health care and missed work is $300 billion.

Clearly, we have a problem. But can something as simple as practicing gratitude be the answer to our worry and stress? Here’s what Stacey shared with our class last night:

I think this week’s video is so pivotal. Why are we counting gifts? Why are we purposing to be thankful people? Because when we are thankful, we are saying to God, “You are good. What you do for us and what you give us are good. But more than that, YOU are good.”

Why is it important for us to say this over and over? Because we forget. The Israelites told their children the stories of God’s faithfulness over and over, so when times of trouble came, they knew they could trust God.

As I was searching through scripture this week, trying to find a place that exemplifies this concept of Thanksgiving-Remembering-Trust, I came across Psalm 77.

I can remember a time in my own life when I could have written the first part of this psalm out of my own story. My husband and I were both 25 and we had just had our first baby. We were clueless. We had no idea what we were doing in terms of parenting.

Then, the day after Austin was born the doctor came in and told us that our son had Down syndrome. That diagnosis was 18 years ago and still to this day when I think about that moment I can feel the overwhelming, crushing fear that I felt in that moment.

When the psalmist cries out in his anguish “I have considered the days of old, the years of long ago” (verse 5) he is saying, wait! Wait! I want things back the way they used to be. This isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t the way I had planned it.

In the following verses, the psalmist goes into questioning God. I can honestly say I spent the first year of Austin’s life doing the same thing. I had some pretty dark thoughts, some pretty intense moments of despair. But I look at those questions the psalmist asked God and can apply them to my situation.

  1. Has God rejected me? No.
  2. Will he ever show favor to me again? Yes.
  3. Has his love vanished forever? No.
  4. Have his promises failed? No.
  5. Has he forgotten to be gracious? No.
  6. Is he so angry with me his compassion has dried up? No.

Nothing else in my life up to this point has propelled me toward God and his goodness more than the birth of my handicapped son. I could spend hours telling you how God’s goodness and faithfulness and protection and love have been demonstrated to me through the life of my son. But you know what? It’s still a hard thing. There are still moments when I need to learn to trust God again and again.

Trust isn’t a lesson learned once and kept. That’s why God keeps telling us to give thanks . . . remember . . . trust.

The bridge to trusting God with tomorrow and whatever it may bring is to remember what he’s done in the past.

In the video portion of last night’s class, Ann made this statement: “If authentic, saving belief is the act of trusting, then to choose stress is an act of disbelief—atheism. Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism.”

Do you agree? If so, what steps will you take this week when faced with stress and worry?

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