On the way to our church’s Ash Wednesday service, I was whinging about some issues and problems of the week that were stressing me out, when my friend humoursly said, ”So, are you giving up stress for Lent?” “Yes,” I flippantly remarked. And then, after a couple of seconds, I seriously responded, “Yes, I’m going to give up stress for Lent.”
At the Ash Wednesday service, when we sung one of my favourite hymns, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” this stanza struck me:
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.
Yep, I thought to myself, I’m giving up stress for Lent.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not sure how far I will get with this practice, but I will give it my best shot. I know God has been dealing with me for years about the way I handle stress. I know that stress is a part of life. Whether or not I’m living in Cape Town or Nashville, there will be elements of stress from time to time. Sometimes, there will be a lot of stress!
But I’m going to try to curb my stress load by practicing these steps when something is starting to cause stress in my life:
- Say a quick prayer: God help!
- Ask myself: What can I control about this situation? If nothing, I will pray for the strength and ability to hand over this situation to God. If there are areas of the situation I can control, I will start making a plan to control
them, starting with baby action steps.
- Pray, pray, pray—asking God for peace and guidance and wisdom, regardless of whether or not it is a situation I can control.
This may be a simplistic approach, but I’m going to try it. It’s a start. Lent is a time of growing closer to God, and often we give up something or take on a spiritual discipline in order to grow in our faith. I’m giving up the “strain and stress,” and I’m giving it to God so that my “ordered life” can confess and receive the “beauty of God’s peace.” God can sort out the stressors in my life, as he assures us in 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV), “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
You can listen to “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” at