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Pressure!

By Maria Fontaine

Two time-tested steps for shedding stress

When it seems there is much more to be done than there is time to do it, it's easy to get under pressure. We think we're not getting enough done or are not getting it done quickly enough, so we push ourselves harder. But the fact of the matter is that when we do that, we usually wind up being less effective and getting even less done.

Stress hinders us in a number of ways: It puts extra strain on our nervous system, which diminishes our mental capacities. It causes us to try to go too fast, so we're not as careful and prayerful as we should be and are therefore more likely to make mistakes. It squelches inspiration. It makes us irritable and harder for others to work with. It can really take the joy out of life! Allowing ourselves to get under pressure is counterproductive in every way.

Pressure?--Or peace?

Learning to recognize when we're starting to get under pressure and then taking positive steps to counter that feeling is probably one of the most important work habits we could build--and the very best way to do that is to ask the Lord for help.

First, we need to ask Jesus to help us see the early warning signs, and second, we need to learn to give our worries and cares to Him and trust Him to do the work through us, His way and in His time.

It is possible to be very busy and have a whole lot to do without feeling under pressure; the secret is to cast our cares on the Lord. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

How is this done? The Bible explains: "Don't worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB).

First things first

Pressure is the enemy! That's especially true for Christians, because when we feel under pressure, the first thing to get crowded out of our schedule is often the very thing we need most--our time with the Lord.

You could be the most organized person in the world, but if you neglect your time with the Lord, your spirit will suffer. To get the Lord's perfect peace, you have to take time with the Lord. To take time with Him, you have to trust that whatever urgent work you have is in His hands and under His control. To trust Him, you have to understand and embrace the wonderful truth that He loves you so much He wants to help you with every aspect of your life.

He is concerned about you and your happiness. He wants to be involved. He wants to help you with your workload, and He will help you as much as you let Him. He will lighten your load incredibly if you'll just ask Him.

So when you begin to feel under pressure, the smartest thing you can do is stop and ask the Lord for help. He wants you to bring your problems to Him, and if you will, He will soothe your ruffled nerves, calm your mind, and show you what to do.

Taking that time to pray and commit your work to the Lord is the best way in the world to alleviate pressure. It's like opening the pressure valve of your spirit. If you don't take that time with Him, the pressure continues to mount.

Jesus has all the answers!

Of course, it's also important to pray and ask the Lord to help you organize your work. As you take time with the Lord, He can inspire you with ideas that will make your way clear and simple so you don't get under such pressure in the first place.

Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). The Bible also promises that, "You [God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).