We all encounter difficulties that cause stress. Jesus even promised it (John 16:33). Stress can come through difficult people, circumstances, and changes in this world. Even good things can create stress.

Stress can lead us down two paths: one of painful unrest or one of peace. Our response to stress determines our destination.

For many, stress leads to painful unrest. This creates a loop of anxiety, fear, depression, physical sickness, obsessive thoughts, and straight-up panic. It’s a helpless and hopeless place to be.

Some of us have operated in that realm of toxic chronic stress for so long we aren’t even aware of it. It’s all we’ve known. Others recognize the stress but have no idea what to do about it, so they continue in it and just become more stressed about the stress.

For the first 37 years of my life, before I met Jesus, I lived in a state of toxic chronic stress. I sought ways to manage the difficulties I faced and the emotional pain I felt but failed to find any healthy solutions. The unhealthy, worldly solutions I did come up with only brought more stress and damage to me and those I loved.

I became bitter, not better.

Stress impacted every area of my life—spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, financial, and relational. Because of the way I handled it, I ended up alone, broken, and desperate in a pit of incarceration and addiction.

Jesus redeemed me from that pit, but staying out of it has required me to learn new ways to manage life’s stressors.

Learning to properly manage stress is the key to staying out of life’s pits. Satan wants us to be overcome by stress, but the Lord wants us to overcome it with His rest. Whew, that’s a mouthful! Read that truth again.

God cares deeply about what stresses us. He knows that anxiety and unrest can imprison His children if we ignore them. Satan knows it, too, and he takes advantage of it every chance he can. Satan knows that if we don’t properly manage stress, we lose sight of God and His promises. We take matters into our own hands and become defeated, discouraged, anxious, fearful, and bitter.

Stress disrupts the shalom of God. Shalom is a peaceful resting in Him, His promises, and His ways. God has good plans and purposes for all His children (Jeremiah 29:11), but to experience them, we must learn to manage stress.

To do that, we must first identify our triggers—the situations, people, places, and things that lead us into a state of unrest. These are different for everyone. Haggai 1:5 says, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you!” (NLT).

We can prepare for and cope with stressful encounters only when we know our triggers. That takes intentional monitoring of our thoughts, emotions, and reactions.

Upon examination, we might identify a particular situation or person that causes us to worry or become obsessively concerned about things outside our control. Maybe we get defensive when someone says something to us, and we immediately argue or fight instead of considering their words.

Maybe we run away instead of facing the thing or person that’s bothering us. For me, I know that in uncomfortable situations, I freeze and am unable to respond appropriately.

Once we identify our stressors, then we determine the underlying reasons for them. This will take some soul searching with God (Psalm 139:23–24). There’s always a deep-rooted reason for a reaction. Sometimes professional counseling is needed to work through this—and that is perfectly okay.

Once we know our triggers, then we can identify a better way to react to them that will promote the peaceful rest, healing, and wholeness God desires (Psalm 37:8).

Since we will never eliminate every stressor, learning to cope with them is a must. It’s best to seek a holistic plan that provides care for the whole being—body, mind, and spirit. God created humans as three-part beings (1 Thessalonians 5:23). If any part of our being is out of balance, it will impact the others.

Taking intentional care of our whole being is God’s will for our lives; He desires every part of us to be healthy (3 John 1:2). Our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19–20). Think about that—if you are a believer, God lives in you! Knowing this should cause us to treat ourselves well. Making self-care a priority is not selfish but sacred.

We care for our bodies by eating healthy, getting adequate sleep each night, avoiding harmful substances, and exercising regularly as we are able. We care for our minds by monitoring our thoughts and identifying the negative  ones.

I know that my mind is a scary place when left wild and untamed. Negative thoughts create crippling unrest and impact both my soul and body. That’s Satan’s plan (John 10:10). Only by changing the way I think can my unrest be transformed into rest (Romans 12:2).

I like to use relaxation techniques like deep breathing and taking a time out when I’m stressed. It’s difficult to make good decisions when my mind is running in circles. I must calm and quiet myself (Psalm 131:2). Learning to avoid those impulsive reactions isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

My relationship with God is a lifestyle, not a diet. It is a personal and ongoing journey. It involves intentional choices and a commitment to nurturing spiritual well-being amid life’s challenges and joys. My relationship with God is, in fact, my personal life support system.

Meditating on God’s Word comforts me and helps me find a fresh perspective. God and His Word are my source of life (John 14:6) and hope (Romans 15:13). He is my ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

The chart below contains 12 biblical truths I lean on when I’m stressed.

  1. God is with me and will not abandon me in my stress. Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5
  2. God sees and understands my stress. Genesis 16:13; Psalm 10:14; Psalm 33:18
  3. God wants to give me peace when my heart is troubled. Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27
  4. God wants to carry my burden and give me rest. Psalm 4:8; Hebrews 4:9–11
  5. God wants to guide me when I am too stressed to make decisions. Psalm 32:8
  6. God wants to strengthen me when I am weak and weary. Isaiah 40:29; Matthew 11:28
  7. God wants to deliver me from my stress. Psalm 24:4–5; 107:6; Isaiah 41:10
  8. God wants to comfort me in times of stress. Isaiah 51:12; 1 Peter 5:6–7
  9. God wants to use my stress to increase my dependence on Him. 2 Corinthians 1:8–9
  10. God wants me to talk to Him about my stress. Psalm 118:5; Philippians 4:6–7
  11. God wants me to trust Him to be my refuge in times of stress. Psalm 32:7; 62:8
  12. God wants me to worship Him and acknowledge His constant presence even in times of stress. Genesis 35:3; Acts 16:25–26

Stress does not have to have the final word in our lives. Jesus has promised we can have His peace and presence (John 16:33). We can come to Him and find rest for our weary souls (Matthew 11:29).

Surrender your stress to God and invite Him to help and give you the hope you need. He will provide you with courage, endurance, and perseverance for this journey to experience the Prince of Peace, His rest, resilience, and well-being.


SHERIDAN CORREA is a Trauma-Informed Biblical Counselor. She’s a wife, mother of two teenage boys, singer, and avid runner who has been radically changed by Jesus. She is VL’s director of content development.