Are you stressed? Do you feel pressure? Everyone feels the pressures of life that causes stress. What we do with these pressures determines our health and the extent that we honor Christ with our lives. There are both good and bad stresses.
Good stress occurs when we exercise or challenge ourselves mentally or emotionally. Rising to the occasion to make a difference in someone else’s life brings stress. Take for instance the paramedic who arrives on the scene of an accident to administer CPR just in time to save a life, the soldier who puts himself in harm’s way to protect the freedom we enjoy, or the counselor who says just the right thing, at just the right time, that helps someone deal with life’s pressure. I am thankful for those who intentionally put themselves under pressure for others. This is the good side of stress. What are other examples of good stress?
Most of the time when we mention stress we are describing negative stress and its effects. Bad stress occurs when the pressures of this life lead to a helplessness and depression. Job related pressure, financial stress, and relational stress are all examples of negative stress we all experience. Since we all deal with the stresses of this life, good stress or bad stress, we must develop strategies to cope with stress that both honor Christ and lead to a healthy life. Every stressful situation we encounter is an opportunity to place our faith in God.
In 1 Peter 2: 18-20, Peter describes two situations a believer can get into that cause pressure: Stress in the workplace and stress in walking in the steps of Christ. This passage occurs as Peter is writing about the need for submission in the believer’s life.
Stress in the Workplace 1 Peter 2:18-20
Peter is writing in a day where slavery was common. His instruction is focused on slaves responding to their masters. Since we live in a society where slavery is illegal, we can apply the principles found in this passage to employees responding to their bosses. Peter instructs the reader to “Submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” The principle of submission, although not popular, is the key ingredient to the employee / employer relationship. This submission is to take place with employers who are good and those who are difficult. It is easy to submit to an employer when we agree with them. Submission is tested when we don’t agree with the boss or feel their course of action is unfair. In this passage, Peter calls the believers in Christ to submit to and honor their employer.
In our working situations and in life, living a life that honors God and doing good will cause stress and suffering. When you think about it, if we are living as aliens and strangers in this world as 1 Peter 2:11 describes, it makes sense that there will be stress because of the uniqueness of our lives. The second stressor that Peter mentions in this passage is the stress that we encounter when we walk as Jesus walked.
1 Peter 2:21-25 shows that Jesus is our Example and that we must follow in His Steps. Peter paints three pictures of Jesus Christ that will help us understand how we should respond to stress and suffering.
He is our Example 1 Peter 2:21-23
Jesus suffered for us when He died on the cross for our sins. How he handled the lies, false accusations and shame of the cross set us a supreme example of how we should endure the suffering of this life. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” This is the key! When stress and suffering comes, we have an opportunity to trust God with the circumstances. We will find that He is faithful. It is during these times that our faith will grow beyond the place it can during peaceful times. Jesus endured the cross because it was the will of God and because of His great love for us. God’s will and our love for Him will motivate us too.
He is our Substitute 1 Peter 2:24
Jesus’ death on the cross provided a way that we can be saved. We can die to the old way of life and live lives of righteousness. His wounds healed us! If you have a relationship with God, never forget that Jesus has the power to heal our wounds.
He is our Shepherd and Overseer of our soul 1 Peter 2:25
Peter concludes this passage by comparing us to sheep. Sheep are defenseless, hopeless, and completely dependent on the shepherd for their well being. John 10:1-14 and Psalm 23 are great examples of our need for a Shepherd. He is the Shepherd of our souls who will never fail.
What stress or struggle in your life do you need to give to Jesus?
Remember our Savior, who is our ultimate Example.