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Stress Free Living Book: Chapter 1

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A Stressful World

A recent Gallup poll found that more than a third of the world’s population experiences a lot of worry and stress. Stress is having such a negative effect in the U.S., where nearly half of Americans say they’re suffering from it, that it’s eating away at their overall well-being, according to the American Psychological Association.

In one way or another, all of us experience stress—regardless of our age, race, gender, social standing, or financial status.

We live in an agitated world, and many people find themselves constantly running against the clock, struggling to keep up with responsibilities and trying to make ends meet. Often, we find ourselves needing to make key decisions that affect our lives and those of our family members. All these factors can contribute to mental and emotional stress. In addition, on television and the Internet, we are bombarded by news about crises in our country and around the world: natural disasters, wars, hunger, misery, economic failures, political discord, crime, societal breakdown, environmental worries, and more.

Our world is full of stress. Our lives are full of stress. These are the times we’re living in.

Yet experiencing ongoing stress takes a tremendous toll. Many people deal with constant anxiety or fear. Others struggle with deeper issues of anguish and oppression. Depending on its degree, stress can be uncomfortable, life-disrupting—or life-threatening. According to the American Psychological Association, “Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”

Experiencing ongoing stress takes a tremendous toll on us.

What Is Stress?

You have probably picked up this book because you or a loved one is affected by some level of stress. I felt an urgency to write Stress-Free Living to help people address the destructive effects of stress—its causes and consequences physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I want to demonstrate that you can experience relief, hope, and joy, no matter what level of stress you are dealing with. Together, we will discover the underlying causes of stress, how to keep it from getting a grip on your life, and how to live free of stress.

Generally speaking, stress is a state of alertness, anxiety, or fear. However, the first thing we must understand is that stress itself is not always negative. In its basic form, it is a built-in physiological response that is triggered in emergency situations when we believe we are facing a threat or danger, whether real or perceived, or during times when we experience heightened expectations for performance regarding a particular task, whether the expectations are self-generated or come from an outside source.

How does the body react to stress? It releases hormones, such as adrenaline, as a “survival mechanism.” Adrenaline accelerates the heartbeat, raises blood pressure, tenses muscles, increases blood flow to the large muscles, produces sweat, reduces pain, and generates other effects. When we face danger, a short-term stress response can save our lives by enabling us to take immediate and effective action. However, if we remain in an ongoing state of stress, then physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual damage can occur. Our mind and body become overloaded, causing us to pay a high price, whether in the short run or the long run.

What this means is that, in a temporary form, in situations such as those described above, stress can help us to function quickly under pressure and motivate us to give the best of ourselves. But when such stress reaction is prolonged, it can be extremely harmful to us. Our body, mind, and emotions are not designed to live perpetually in an emergency state.

Whatever people constantly tolerate or consent to becomes their norm. That is why, if we give in to anxiety or fear in our lives, it will begin to define us. This is the point where stress is not just something we experience from time to time in certain circumstances, but has developed into something that has taken hold of us. When this occurs, we are dealing with spiritual factors as well as physical and emotional ones. Many people don’t recognize this spiritual element to their stress, and that is why they remain in its grip.

If you surrender continuously to stress, it will enslave you.

Two Types of Stress

For the purposes of this book, we will define stress in two ways: natural stress and spiritual stress.

Natural Stress

  • Natural stress remains largely in the physical, emotional, and mental spheres, although spiritual elements can influence it. There are various causes of stress, and we will cover a number of them in chapter 2. Natural stress can produce physical symptoms such as headaches, neck and shoulder tension, back pain, fatigue, stomach problems, sleeplessness, and severe skin irritation. It can also produce emotional and mental symptoms, such as anxiety, deep sadness, anger, impatience, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, trouble concentrating, a certain degree of memory loss, and negative thoughts. Although we might temporarily feel stress when we are placed in new situations or are challenged to meet high expectations, in many cases, stress manifests as a result of upsetting situations we are exposed to over time.

 

Spiritual Stress

  • When stress is in a natural stage, an individual has the ability to learn to manage and control it. However, when it has entered the spiritual stage, it cannot be controlled using natural methods, and therefore significant spiritual issues must be addressed.
  • With spiritual stress, there are several types of controlling “yokes” that can manifest, such as jealousy, fear, anger, and depression. For example, when a person crosses over from feeling under pressure regarding a situation to living in a state of depression, they become imprisoned in despair. The yoke of stress shapes or molds them into certain ways of thinking, which are reflected in their behavior. When someone falls into depression, their very countenance changes. Their features may droop or become hard. Some people move into a self-destructive mode as their depression dulls their ability to function normally. Among the symptoms of depression are deep and continuous sadness, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, pessimism, guilt, physical pain, digestive problems, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, abuse of alcohol or drugs, illicit sex, gambling, and thoughts of suicide.
  • When we live in depression, we have no expectation of anything good, and we cannot see a way out of our problems—even at times when a challenge may be relatively easy to overcome.

When stress enters the oppressive stage, it cannot be controlled through natural means; it must be addressed spiritually.

The Bible provides several examples of people who suffered from depression as a result of stress. I believe that the great leader and lawmaker Moses fell into depression, and it kept him from entering into the promised land even after he had freed God’s people from Egyptian slavery. It was what ultimately ended his leadership. For years, Moses had been accumulating all the burdens of his people in his heart, until he became exhausted and depressed. Because he was angry about the people’s continual rebellion, complaints, and disbelief, he disobeyed God in a major way. (See Numbers 20:8–13.) As expressed above, when we struggle with depression, we may behave in self-destructive ways—which we will later regret.

In another example, Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. In faith, he boldly defeated four hundred and fifty prophets of the false god Baal in the power of the living God. However, when he was threatened with death by Queen Jezebel, he became afraid and chose to flee. After a while, he lost all hope and fell into a state of depression; he was spiritually oppressed, to the point of wanting to die. But Elijah was ultimately restored by rest, nutrition, encouraging words from God, spiritual strengthening, and renewed faith. His story gives us a preview of how we, too, can overcome stress that comes from fear, fatigue, and lost hope. (See 1 Kings 18:20–40; 19:1–18.)

If we are in a state of advanced stress, but do not understand what has us bound, we will not recognize that we are being oppressed by an outside force and not just our own inward struggles. Only the power of God can free us from such a tyrannical influence. The Bible teaches us, “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 niv). When we allow the devil—the evil spiritual being that opposes God—to gain a foothold in our lives through a prolonged period of stress in which we hold on to fear, anxiety, anger, or hopelessness, we will become oppressed.

However, we can be assured that no matter what type of yoke comes upon us through stress, God has more than enough power to break it and remove every burden from us. We have this assurance from the Scriptures: “It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil” (Isaiah 10:27). Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has already defeated the devil. He wants to set us free, and we can learn to live continually in His victory.

God has more than enough power to break the tyranny of stress and remove every burden from us.

Managing and Defeating Stress

We must remember that when we encounter various stressful situations at home, at work, at school, and in other contexts, this is often just a natural part of living, and we can learn to manage our stress. In this book, I demonstrate how we handle these situations by looking to God’s peace and strength. Beyond that, there may be other times when we sense we are holding on to stress for extended periods of time or that stress seems to have a grip on us. It is not God’s will for us to live stressed, depressed, and on the verge of collapse. We need to be set free and begin to trust in the One who rules heaven and earth and can help us in our circumstances. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23), and “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If you recognize that you have some symptoms of oppressive stress, then you need the help of Jesus and the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Perhaps you don’t know how to pray and ask God for help. Before we move on to the next chapter, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me, knowing that if we declare it in faith, your stress can begin to change to peace, your sadness to joy, and your despair to hope. Pray believing in your heart that God will act in your life:

Lord Jesus, I recognize that there are situations beyond my control that have robbed me of peace, bound my emotions, and caused sickness in my body. Stress has progressed into spiritual oppression and taken over. I repent for the mistakes I have made, and I ask You to forgive me for allowing stress to invade my life. Today, I need Your help to be free. I accept the forgiveness You have provided for me by Your death on the cross, when You took my sins and failings on Yourself, and by Your resurrection from the dead. I receive You into my heart, and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring peace, faith, and freedom to my mind, soul, and body. Today, in Your name, I make the decision to let go of all anxiety, sadness, worry, and everything else that causes me stress and depression. I receive peace, healing, faith, and hope from You. Thank You, Lord Jesus! Amen.

 

If you want to learn more about breaking free from stress, you can be one of the first people to read Apostle Guillermo Maldonado’s latest book “Stress-Free Living”. This book will equip you with essential spiritual and natural tools for a stress-free life. Be empowered to break stress cycles and find true peace and healing! Pre-Order Here.

 

Want further training on how to walk in your purpose? Join us June 26 -28, in our Supernatural Ministry School. There you will be equipped and activated to destroy the attacks of the enemy and fully step into your call. For more information click HERE.

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