Psychologists tell us that stress can be either bad (distress) or good (eustress). How do I determine whether my stress is good or bad?
Christians can relate to the stress described by the apostle Paul: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15 KJV). He’s describing a battle that most people assume can never be won, not in this life.
Jesus makes an interesting statement when he talks about the violence that had always been characteristic of possessing the Kingdom (Matthew 11:12). I believe he was saying it would be different in the future. Why? The message we find in the life of Christ is one of victory by surrender, turning the other cheek, doing good that isn’t required, acting only according to the direction of the Holy Spirit.
If I didn’t care about winning, surrender would be easy, so that’s where I must look for the solution (1 Peter 5:7).
Paul shows us the path to victory with this statement: “If you listen to God’s Spirit within, you will seek to please him and to benefit others, not to satisfy your selfish desires” (Galatians 5:16 paraphrase). He says we should put the “old man” to death, a picture of unconditional surrender that ends the stress of the battle (Romans 6:6).
When our concerns reach beyond what we can control, we avoid stress by surrendering control to God.