I returned from a lifetime-high weekend at She Speaks to find my van won’t start, my oldest got the stomach flu, and my cat pooped on the bathroom rug.
Ever been there?
Nobody likes stress. We run from it, try to avoid it, and do everything we can to make it go away. We see it as a nuisance, and a roadblock en route to living our strengths and dreams.
But did you know that we actually need stress?
Stress Allows Growth
Without stress, we don’t develop the muscles to live long and accomplish life. Here are a few examples in nature to demonstrate:
- Trees – in greenhouses, botanists discovered that trees facing no pressure from wind and elements wouldn’t grow beyond the height of a bush.
- Baby chicks – need to peck their way out of the egg; if someone opens it for them, they won’t be strong enough to survive life outside the egg.
- The birth process – during birth a child is forced through the birth canal under extreme pressure, deprived of oxygen. Compounds flood their system at higher levels than any time in life, opening the child’s lungs, drying bronchi, and allowing them to switch to an air environment. Cesarean-birthed babies tend to have respiratory problems because they don’t go through this stressful process.
- Zoo animals – without being placed close to a predator’s enclosure, animals such as gazelle and oxen don’t behave as they do in the wild, and they can’t reproduce normally.
Stress Reveals Victory
Balance is woven through life. Light and dark. Good and evil. Work and rest. Without the darker things in life, light’s brightness loses meaning. You’ve probably heard this idea before: “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Most people think this is about when you experience discreet challenges in life – job loss, relationship problems, car accidents, etc.
What it really says is we’re wearing trouble all the time. That’s the meaning of the original language for the idea “you will have trouble.” It means we’re never separated from it…. this squeezing, pressing, stress we face.
And that’s a good thing. We need it to live, to grow, to get stronger. But here’s the even better news:
When God says, “I have overcome the world,” the original language means He carried it off in victory – that in the stress we face, we are not alone. That He helps us wear our stress and brings light into the dark areas that press us.
It has always been that way, we simply need to receive His help.
So go ahead, embrace the stress. Let it be a part of your life. Notice it and see it as part of who you are. Allow it to press you into Him who strengthens you. It’s not a roadblock, but rather, a gift. It’s the darkness that reveals light in your life, and the gym where your natural talents become your strengths.