How To Not Let Anxiety and Stress Get You Down

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged (brought me relief) me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
— Psalm 4:1

There have been many times in my life in the ministry and after that I looked okay on the outside but on the inside I was screaming and flailing about. I was always good at hiding the stress that often plagued me while pastoring. 

Not only in the ministry but after the accident that left my wife and I crippled, there were times I was stressed, anxious, worried and overwhelmed. I felt like something was pressing in on me, pushing me down emotionally and preventing me from escaping my situation. The more these feelings built up, the more I wanted to lash out, strike out, or push back against my burdens. Outside I looked fine; inside I was a mess. The accident that left my wife and I crippled up just added to those feelings.

Do you ever feel this way? Stress comes at all of us every day, in a thousand different ways. Kid stress, job stress, money stress, house stress, and medical stress, relationship stress — the list goes on and on. Try as we might, we can't escape it in this broken world. We feel trapped and imprisoned by these things we cannot change, and they weigh heavily on us.

When I read Psalms 4:1, one word stood out, enlargement, it literally means, "Make room for me in tight places." Wow. I can totally identify with that idea!

I know what it feels like to want someone to come along and make room for me in my tight places. To remove the boundaries and burdens which threaten to smother me with their nearness.

My stress level mounts, my blood pumps in my ears, and my hope takes flight. Whether it was the little irritations in life like someone spreading lies about me, or the big burdens of worrying about the finances, someone getting mad and leaving the church and the future of our church, I know those tight places all too intimately. We all do.

I love that Psalm 4:1 reminds us there is someone who can come and offer relief. So many times, we try to make our own space in our tight places — handling things independently and attempting to solve problems without ever calling on the One who best knows how to make room for us.

God is faithful to give us emotional elbow room, easing our burdens and offering us His wisdom. He shows us mercy when we call on Him, hearing our prayers and rescuing us from tight places.

The next time you feel stressed, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, call out to God, and let Him find you in your tight place, making room where you thought there was none. God Bless!