IDOK DEVOTION FOR FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2008
In a time when life is constantly rushed and details demand more attention than any one person can spare, stress has become the common denominator among us. With busy schedules, it can sometimes seem difficult to cope with the problems the world relentlessly throws our way.
Through research, scientists are discovering just how detrimental stress can be. As your brain processes a perpetual stream of stressful information – expectations, successes, failures, disappointments and goals – it sets off physical and chemical responses within the body. It’s a scientific fact: When you do not train your brain how to react positively to stress, your health will suffer.
You may already be familiar with some of the negative effects – headaches and tense muscles – but unfortunately, the hazards of stress do not stop with symptoms that can be treated with aspirin. Negative thoughts created by stress release negative chemicals into your body. As these negative chemicals course through your body, they make their mark on the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems, to name a few. Over time, when enough negative chemicals are released, damage takes place on the cellular level, triggering sickness and disease.
While your body is strong and tenacious, it also relies on delicate systems of biochemical feedback loops. Maintaining homeostasis (balance or equilibrium) within the body is vital to your overall health. Stress disrupts homeostasis on various levels, and over time, as the chemical and metabolic balance is disturbed, stress will cause irreversible structural damage.
Eventually, your organs will grow weary of operating on heightened alert. Physically, your health will spiral as your body enters utter exhaustion.
I paint a grim picture, but please know that my intention is not to exaggerate. Stress is dangerous and unhealthy. When your brain is forced to process a barrage of demands, expectations, deadlines and difficulties, it responds accordingly. The negative chemicals it releases hold the real threat, and years of these chemicals could be deadly. The good news is anxiety is a learned life pattern that can be unlearned. It can be replaced with a more positive, healthy lifestyle.
De-stress Your Schedule
In this culture of rush, rush, rush, time is precious and should be spent wisely. Because your mind can keep your body healthy or sick, investing your time into the health of your mind and body is vital to both the longevity and quality of your life. When making your schedule, make a conscious decision to focus on those things that are good for you: exercise, relaxation, healthy diet, love and kindness.
If you look at your schedule and just don’t see any way to cut out the stress, I challenge you to consider this: If you only had six months to live, what things would you insist on doing to be happy and content?
More with Dr. Leaf next time but before I leave you for today, a Word from The Word.
Hebrews 13: 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say “ The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Timothy 6: 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
One more word from me re this: Because your mind can keep your body healthy or sick, — I don’t believe Dr. Leaf is telling us that if we have cancer or other life-threatening diseases it is because we did not think ourselves healthy; and I am CERTAINLY not telling you that by offering you this Food for Thought. I do hope, though, we can gather useful information from the article. See you Monday. Have a ‘healthy thinking weekend’. Our love to you.
Father, again we are thankful and again we are reminded that our battles with our own flesh and with the Evil One are won or lost in our ‘minds’. Help us be willing to yield to the Mind of Christ Jesus. Thank You for the mercy, grace and peace You have given us today and thank You for the promises of forever. Cause these listed here to rely upon You for their strength and comfort and every need in their lives today. Please continue to protect our IDOK Troops, we are depending upon You to do all things well for them. We are looking to You for grace and mercy for America; we are looking to You for grace and space to repent for the peoples of America; we are looking to You for the motivation for we Your Children to live holy lives so that others will believe Your Gospel. Thank You for the abundance You have given us; help us use Your Gifts and Provisions wisely and Lord, curtail the corruption and the greed of powerful people and industry that is causing exorbitant fuel and food costs. Thank You that You will continue to provide for us and we will by Your Grace learn contentment. And all this we ask based solely on the merits and righteousness of Jesus our Savior and Lord.
As I post this it is 68°F and overcast in Balad, IQ & the time there is 6:38 AM AST – on May 9, 2008
De-stress Your Emotions
You may be surprised to learn that there are only two types of emotions we experience – fear-based emotion and faith-based emotion. Stress is a direct result of the fear-based emotion. And while we cannot control the fact that fear pops up unexpectedly in life, as Christians, we have a unique opportunity to respond to it – with faith.
The Bible says, …perfect love drives out fear…(I John 4:18). God’s love is powerful enough to rescue us from our fears and anxieties so that they do not become dangerous stressors coursing through our bodies.
De-stress Your Mind
Perhaps the most powerful tool we have to de-stress our lives is that of consciously controlling our thoughts. Most of the time, thoughts form, take root and trigger responses before we even consciously recognize their existence. Research shows that 90% of what goes on in the mind is metacognitive. That means, we are generally only aware of 10% of what our brain is doing.
However, if thoughts are powerful enough to make us sick, they are also powerful enough to make us well. Since negative hormones and chemicals are released when negative thoughts creep in, we must learn how to recognize those negative thoughts, refuse to admit them into our minds unchecked and actually change them into positive thoughts so that the chemical reaction in the body is healthy.
Second Corinthians 10:5 says, …we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Here, the Bible has given us a valuable command that will reduce the stress in our lives and make us healthier people. Jesus told us to love Him, trust Him and obey Him. That is where our thoughts and reactions should lean. Maybe we are so stressed out because we are trusting ourselves too much, demanding too much of ourselves and others and attempting to perfect our lives by our own strength. Such thoughts and actions are not in line with Christ.
Through the course of your life, you have trained your brain. If you have taught it to operate and function in a constantly stressed state, there is still hope. Fear and stress should not control you, and they certainly shouldn’t make you sick. You still have time to re-train your brain. Teaching it how to process negative input in positive ways, you can wield its God-ordained power for a healthier future.
Enjoy your God, your families and friends this weekend. We must believe – ALL is Well because our Father and our God is on His Throne and He loves us more ‘Dan breafin’ (than breathing).
Kathie Whitestone Thompson
Follower of Christ. Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother. Some call me a teacher. Some say I'm a prayer warrior. A few accredit me with some writing skills. Me? I say I'm a work in slow progress, looking for perfection in eternity and until then having all the holy fun I know how.